Befriender '19

YOPEY Befriender

Young people supporting the elderly in care homes

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Stories about YOPEY Dementia Befriender (YDB) schemes in 2019

We started 2019 with YOPEY Dementia Befriender (YDB) schemes running in 13 places.

Among these are sixth-formers going in to care homes in Chelmsford, Norwich, Nottingham and Watford. We have started our first scheme in Bedfordshire in Leighton Buzzard, also using sixth-formers.

Younger secondary school pupils are going into other care homes Cambridge and Watford.

We have two schemes running in two semi-rural areas of Suffolk with several more planned as we endeavour to make YOPEY's home county the 'Beacon for Befriending'.

Cambidgeshire is also earmarked for major expansion.

We are also working for a second year with our first primary school, Burton End in Haverhill. You can see a film about our youngest volunteers on Youtube.

Our schemes in West Bridgford, Notts, and Wymondham, Norfolk, are in their fifth and third year respectively.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing MBE said: "In 2019 we are poised for our biggest expansion yet."

Resurrection 1 – Nottingham students have new home to visit

Photos by Andrew Wainwright and Malcolm Sales of Rushcliffe Photographic Society

A few months after YOPEY was axed from organising visits by sixth-formers to a care home in West Bridgford the charity has started a new befriending scheme with a different care home in the Nottingham suburb.

The YOPEY Dementia Befriender scheme which had been enriching the lives of lonely residents at Leawood Manor care home for five years finished in June.


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Resurrection 2 – Wymondham students have new home to visit

Photos by Martin Giddings of

Teenagers from Wymondham High Academy have been trained as ‘YOPEY Befrienders’ to make friends with elderly people living in a different Wymondham care home after a previous care home axed the befriending scheme despite it contributing to that home's success.

Twenty-one 16 to 17-year-olds were trained by the Suffolk charity YOPEY at Sutherlands in Norwich Road and will soon start visiting residents

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Norwich teens help make Norfolk 'Beacon for Befriending'

Photos by John Bulpitt

Teenagers from a Norwich sixth form are helping to make Norfolk a 'Beacon for Befriending'.

The 17-18 year-olds from Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form are the second highest 'YOPEY Befrienders' in the country. YOPEY Befrienders are older schoolchildren who visit care home residents, many of whom are lonely or have dementia or both.

Seven year 13s from the sixth form in the Old Fire Station, Bethel Street, have been visiting residents at St John's

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Ipswich teens help make Suffok 'Beacon for Befriending'

Photos by Paul Sanwell of OP Photography

Teenagers from an Ipswich school are helping to make Suffolk 'The Beacon for Befriending'.

The sixth-formers from Northgate High School are the leading 'YOPEY Befrienders' in the country. YOPEY Befrienders are older schoolchildren who visit care home residents, many of whom are lonely or have dementia or both.

Eleven year 13s from the Sidegate Lane West

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Haverhill befrienders enjoy visit to care home 'pub'

Four girls from Castle Manor Academy visit residents at The Meadows care home in their 'pub'.

The girls are part of a larger group of the secondary school's pupils who have been trained as befrienders by the Stradishall charity YOPEY.

Since their training in July, the group has made over 70 visits and given the residents – some of whom are lonely while others live with dementia – about 150 hours of their time.

Headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe said: "We are delighted that our young people...
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Ipswich YDB scheme goes from strength to strength

Photos by Paul Sanwell of OP Photography

Fewer than a dozen young people from Northgate High School in Ipswich have made more than 200 visits to residents of The Willows care home in the Suffolk town.

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Haverhill secondary joins Suffolk's quest to be #BeaconForBefriending

Photographs by Joanna Gearing

Teenagers from a Haverhill school have been trained as ‘YOPEY Befrienders’ to make friends with elderly people living with dementia.

Thirteen to 14-year-olds from Castle Manor Academy were recruited by the Stradishall charity YOPEY and trained by the charity at The Meadows care home in Haverhill

The 17 children, all girls, will go weekly from their school in Eastern Avenue to the care home in Brybank Road to visit the home’s residents. Some will

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Training photos of Castle Manor's YOPEY Befrienders

Photographs by Chris Fell

The girls from Castle Manor Academy were trained by YOPEY founder Tony Gearing or about two hours before they met residents at The Meadows care home in Haverhill for the first time. See story above.

The training included the 'Can I do this' exercise where the children are made to imagine they have dementia and asked a series of questions about what their character can and cannot do. If they think their character can do that thing they take a step forward.

For this training session we also

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High Sheriff recognises youngest befriending scheme

Photographs by Chris Fell

The High Sheriff of Suffolk presented children from a Haverhill school with a certificate for taking part in ‘YOPEY Dementia Befriender’ – the scheme run by a Stradishall charity between schools and care homes to bridge the generation gap between the young and the lonely elderly.

Rosalind Eminson, the High Sheriff, visited The Meadows care home in Brybank Road, Hanchett Village, and met children from Burton End Primary Academy, who had walked to the care home from their Burton End school.

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Queen's representative visits first YDB in Bedfordshire

Photos by John Flynn

The Queen’s top representative in Bedfordshire visited the first ‘YOPEY Dementia Befriender’ scheme in the county in June.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis CStJ, who is HM The Queen’s representative in the County of Bedfordshire, met young and old at Carrington House care home in Leighton Buzzard.
Teenage befrienders from Vandyke Upper School in Leighton Buzzard introduced Mrs Nellis to their elderly friends – some living with dementia –...
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