Young People of the Year

Revealing, Recognising and Rewarding Positive Role Models

What is 'YOPEY Befriender'?

YOPEY Befriender is an offshoot of Young People of the Year where young people are offered the opportunity to join a scheme where they give to their local community.

In particular they are asked to befriend residents in care homes local to their school.

YOPEY Befriender was started in 2013 after YOPEY founder Tony Gearing became aware of surveys into the lonely elderly. It was found that more than one million people over the age of 65 considered themselves lonely most or all of the time. Some 400,000 considered a pet or the TV as their ‘best friend’.

Tony quickly calculated that there was one million sixth-formers in the UK and if these could be persuaded to identify who lived alone in their street and offer to visit them, this problem could soon be solved.

“My initial idea was that the sixth-formers would go along to the lonely person's home and offer to visit them once a week ” said Tony. “But I was advised this was too risky, putting vulnerable young people with vulnerable old people in an unsupervised environment.”

Not to be defeated, Tony wondered how he could come up with a scheme that achieved similar goals without compromising safety. He thought of care homes and contact Runwood Group, which has over 60 care homes and has been a regular Young People of the Year sponsor for several years.

Runwood embraced the YOPEY Befriender scheme and the rest, as they say, is history.

Introduction to YOPEY Befriender

Digital version of paper sheet given to all new YOPEY Befrienders. To download copy click here...
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How to befriend person with dementia?

For advice on befriending a person with dementia download our YOPEY Befriender tipsheet here...

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Rewards for YOPEY Befrienders

For notes on how you achieve certificates for your volunteering and can win free cinema tickets and other prizes download here

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Thinking of doing a Life Story?

Turn to the next page from the bottom of this page for methods and ideas...

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YOPEY Befriender on social media

YOPEY also gives ideas to its YOPEY Befrienders through social media. 

Send a Facebook friends request to 'YOPEY Tony'. This is where YOPEY founder Tony Gearing gives the latest news about the scheme.

On Pinteret there is a page full of ideas put up by 'Mrs YOPEY'. Click on https://uk.pinterest.com/jo_gross/ for lots of ideas for stuff to do with care home residents.

YOPEY Tony’s instagram site https://www.instagram.com/yopeytony/ is where we are starting

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Ideas for befriending care home residents

Scroll down this page for conversation starters, arts and crafts ideas and plenty of other stuff and how to do them.


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First film about YOPEY Befrienders

Watch the film immediately below about Year 10 and Year 12 pupils from two schools in Bury St Edmunds, and the elderly people they have befriended at two care homes in the Suffolk town...

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Talk Tony gives schools

This is a typical talk that YOPEY founder Tony Gearing gives to schools to recruit YOPEY Befrienders. About a third of the Year 10s at St Benedict's Catholic Secondary in Bury St Edmunds wanted to be YOPEY Befrienders after hearing this:

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Young given dementia training

YOPEY Befriender Tony Gearing soon realised there was a second element to the scheme – typically two-thirds of the residents in care homes have dementia and YOPEY had to ensure the young people were prepared for this.

YOPEY Befrienders are given training by dementia champions before they can start visiting care homes. Once they have been trained they are set the goal of visiting residents for an hour a week for a year.

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Registered with the Registrar of Companies for England and Wales as company number 7751145

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