Befriender '17

YOPEY Befriender

Young people supporting the elderly in care homes

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YOPEY Befriender enters its 4th year

YOPEY Befriender grew greatly in the autumn of 2016-17. We started new schemes in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk – see stories below – as well as recruiting new YOPEY Befrienders for our established schemes in Watford, Nottingham and Bury St Edmunds.

Major health care company Care UK commissioned YOPEY to start YOPEY Befriender schemes in two of its care homes, including in Poole, Dorset, where three schools are sending over 50 young people to The Potteries care home.

We also started a new scheme at Mildenhall in Suffolk with a grant from the local council. 

We also trialled a new style of YOPEY Befriender scheme for younger pupils with Year 10s from Watford Girls Grammar going into a care home for a half-day introduction to YOPEY Befriender in the hope that they will want to return regularly when they are sixth-formers.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing was so inspiring at the girls' assembly that over 90 out of 150 girls asked to take part in this scheme and YOPEY is organising five half-day visits to Runwood care home Greenbanks to accommodate so many volunteers.

We also did the same trial with 20 Year 10s from All Saints Catholic Academy in Mansfield, Notts, going into local Runwood care home Maun View. They enjoyed the visit so much that they have volunteered to go back and help with the care home's next party for the elderly residents.

Norfolk: another high tea with a different high sheriff

Photographs by Paul Sanwell

The High Sheriff of Norfolk has praised a dozen teenagers from Wymondham High School who give companionship to care home residents in their town.

Sixth-formers from the Folly Road school visit residents at Windmill House in Browick Road – where they spend an hour or so each week chatting to them, exchanging news and encouraging them to share their memories. Many of the residents have dementia but the young people are taught to see the person and not the disease, but also how to cope

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Little bit of fame for founder and his wife

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing was contacted by Bury Free Press feature writer Barbara Eeles in March 2017, who asked if she could write a feature about him. He replied: “Yes, as long as it also features my wife Jo.” As reported in the feature – which also appeared in the Suffolk Free Press, Newmarket Journal and Diss Express – Tony says: Jo “kicks me up the backside when I get demoralised, because sometimes it can be quite tough.” Read on for an insight in how YOPEY came to be founded…

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Befrienders, new and 'old', recommend YOPEY to council

Photographs • Chris Fell

A council officer visited the YOPEY Befriender scheme at St Peter's House in Bury St Edmunds to interview YOPEY Befrienders.

A few of the new YOPEY Befrienders from Year 10 at County Upper School were joined by two of the 'old' YOPEY Befrienders from last year's Year 10 at St Benedict's School. Or shall we say 'veteran'?

The students from the two Bury St Edmunds schools praised YOPEY Befriender to the officer, who represented the neighbouring district

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High Sheriff's awards for two YOPEY Befrienders

Two Bury St Edmunds schoolgirls, who volunteered over 50 hours each as YOPEY Befrienders, were finalists for the High Sheriff of Suffolk’s Young Volunteer of the Year.

Mary Whittingdale, 15, and Millie Eddy, 16, visited people with dementia at St Peter’s House, a care home where all 60 residents have dementia, for an hour a week for a year.

At the awards at the prestigious Snapes Maltings venue on the beautiful Suffolk coast, “they were pipped at the post by a girl who volunteers at a youth club,” said

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Over 70 teens take part in first introduction afternoons

Words: Daniel Hartropp • Photographs: John Flynn

On four Friday afternoons more than 70 enthusiastic 14-15 year-olds from Watford Grammar School for Girls visited Watford’s Greenbanks care home in Leadbetter Drive, to learn how to befriend elderly people living with dementia. This is the next step in the ‘YOPEY Befriender’ scheme which the charity YOPEY (Young People of the Year) has been trialling for four years.

YOPEY Befrienders are usually sixth-formers, aged 16-19, recruited to visit residents

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'Enlightening, eye-opening and emotional'

Reaction of Tej Raval, 15, to taking part in an introduction to YOPEY Befriender 

Enlightening, eye-opening and emotional. These are the sort of words and phrases I would use to describe our visit to Greenbanks Care Home when we took part in an Introduction to Yopey Befriender.  

I found out about this opportunity from seeing a poster near the care home and how lucky it was that I did. When we arrived we met other young people taking part from our sister school, Watford Girls’ Grammar.

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High Sheriff of Suffolk praises Sudbury scheme

Photographs by Chris Fell

The High Sheriff of Suffolk visited Catchpole Court care home in Sudbury to meet some of the local young people who are ‘YOPEY Befrienders’ there.

A YOPEY Befriender is a young person who has trained to relate to elderly people living in care homes, some of them with dementia.

The scheme was set up by Suffolk-based charity YOPEY, which stands for Young People of the Year, and has been running at Catchpole Court in Walnut Tree Lane for several months.

William Kendall,

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Relatives of people with dementia praise YOPEY Befrienders...

A scheme linking young people with care home residents is revolutionizing the way each generation sees the other.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society the UK now has 850,000 people with dementia, with numbers set to rise to over a million within 10 years.

The pioneering YOPEY charity recruits and trains young people to befriend elderly people with dementia and supports them in care homes to befriend lonely residents. Its YOPEY Befriender scheme, which has grown from two care homes and three schools to over 20 care

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