A Perthshire man has signed up more than 1,000 penpals from 97 countries.
Alex Bergin, a former Strathallan School pupil, came up with the idea for the International Youth Cooperative scheme to help young people across the globe to connect during the lockdown period.
He and three of his friends, based in Scotland, Italy and Canada, developed an algorithm to pair up respondents based on their interests and language skills.
Alex said: “We live in an increasingly interconnected world, and we didn’t want lockdown to put a halt to this.”
The team created an online sign-up form which guides participants through a series of questions on their interests and language skills, before matching them with another person with similar qualities.
The pair are then expected to correspond by email for a week, before being matched with new penpals.
Alex and friends hope the scheme will help young people to create new contacts worldwide, and get to know what life is like for people in different countries. They also hope it will help tackle isolation during the lockdown period.
Alex added: “The response has been incredible. We feel that is a testament to how this project can really help people – while we’re all stuck in lockdown, while we’re in quarantine – to just find somebody new to talk to.
“It could ease the pressures of isolation, help with loneliness, and if nothing else, who doesn’t want to make a new friend?”
Anyone interested in taking part in the project can register their interest online through the International Youth Group’s Google Form.