New pen pal project connects lonely youngsters in lockdown


A new programme that pairs children together to exchange letters by post is helping youngsters to make new friends safely during lockdown.

Sheffield-based charity Always An Alternative has set up The Pen Pal Project to connect children to write letters to on a regular basis. It is aimed at improving their handwriting skills, social skills and helps them make new friends in an environment where such opportunities are limited.

Always An Alternative is a non-profit organisation created with the ultimate aim of reducing serious youth violence, including knife crime, gun crime and gangs by “engaging the youthful minds of today”. Established in 2020,by Anthony Olasiende, 33, it seeks to provide ways to properly engage UK youths and steer them away from violent crime.

“Children rarely get letters”, said Mr Olasiende. “I just wanted to give them something to look forward to.”

The initiative currently has over 60 children taking part and is open to all schoolchildren in the UK.

Mr Olaseinde had difficult beginnings and went down the wrong path as a result of his circumstances and peer pressure. He was able to attend university and resolved to give back to the community when he could. Eventually, Always an Alternative was born.

The organisation engages youths using activities like American football and focused workshops and steer them towards more productive endeavours whilst the lockdown continues.

Always An Alternative also has a podcast called Always An Alternative: The Podcast on Anchor FM, Spotify and Pocket Casts where youth violence, gang crime and other important matters are discussed. The Knife Collection provides services to local communities in Sheffield by safely collecting and disposing of knives and other weapons in collaboration with the police. Mr Olaseinde’s upcoming book on people’s personal experiences with knife crime, is being sold to help fund the initiative alongside donations.

Always An Alternative serves to properly motivate youths also, particularly during this lockdown era and aims to help as many youths as possible until they either “do not need it” or go back to school in a normal environment.

To learn more about this organisation, donate or take part, visit or visit their Facebook and Twitter pages.






Written by Mmesoma Muogilim

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