Local Teenager Receives British Empire Medal

Nina who attends Latymer School awarded for work with the elderly

Nina Andersen - Latymer School

Nina Andersen, a Sixth Form student at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, is being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours. BEMs are awarded to people for a ‘hands-on’ service to the local community.

18-year-old Nina, who lives in Putney, is being recognised for her intergenerational initiative, Community Senior Letters, a non-profit community project, that matches students in schools with residents in care homes, so that they can write letters, providing the elderly with a form of human connection that helps to ease feelings of isolation and loneliness which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The idea of connecting primary and secondary school pupils with care homes was inspired by her visits to care home residents before COVID-19.

Nina set her project up just after the first lockdown started when she realised that she’d no longer be able to continue running Community Senior Music, her initiative to take musical entertainment into care homes. Nina is an accomplished violin player and would take her violin to care homes to entertain the residents with well-known classical pieces. When she saw the positive impact of bringing live music into the care homes, she arranged for friends and other music students, including musicians from the Royal College of Music, to play to care home residents across.

Nina felt that letters could really help to lift spirits and put a smile on the residents’ faces, while the students involved develop valuable skills - not just writing but also kindness and empathy.

She single-handedly linked almost 70,000 school children from primary schools in London, Edinburgh and Dublin as well as schools over 20 different countries internationally with care homes in their areas.

Over 250 care homes and more than 250 schools, both in the UK and internationally, have gotten involved, writing hundreds of thousands of letters. There have been letters sent from all corners of the globe - North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia - with coverage in various media outlets such as CBBC Newsround, Telegraph and Independent, as well as recognition for Nina including The Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award, Children and Young People Now: Children’s Achievement Award and Hammersmith & Fulham Covid-19 Champion Award.

Nina and her initiative also feature in ‘One Hundred Reasons to Hope’, the book that Captain Sir Tom Moore was working on before he died and Nina is now working with The Captain Tom Foundation to promote her new book, as they share a similar mission - reducing loneliness and bridging the gap between young and old people.

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December 30, 2021