Stradishall-based charity helps Bury teens befriend the elderly

YOPEY volunteer  Imogen Tytle
Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151153001
YOPEY volunteer Imogen Tytle Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151153001
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Community-spirited sixth formers have given up their spare time to get to know elderly care home residents as part of a scheme to help bring generations closer together.

Year 12 and 13 students from County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, have been visiting the town’s North Court Care Home as part of the Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Befriender initiative.

Katie Schofield talking with a resident
Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151204001

Katie Schofield talking with a resident Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151204001

Organised by the Stradishall-based charity, the scheme links schools with care homes in an attempt to bring friendship to the residents, many of whom suffer dementia.

Founder Tony Gearing said: “YOPEY Befrienders are shown things they can do with elderly people with dementia. Many come up with their own ideas.”

Insurer Aviva has given a £25,000 grant to expand YOPEY Befriender in the East of England.

Toby Boston, 18, said: “At first it was a bit of a struggle to get used to dealing with the harsh reality that dementia patients display, but eventually I could look past that and see how lovely they all are.”

Hannah Crown, a befriending volunteer
Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151226001

Hannah Crown, a befriending volunteer Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151226001

Hannah Crown, 17, has spent about 15 hours at the home and said: “The thing I most enjoy is when you do something really small for them and they give you a hug or a big smile. It makes you feel really good.”

To find out more about YOPEY or the scheme, visit www.youngpeopleoftheyear.org

Yopey befriending volunteers and residents being filmed
Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151215001

Yopey befriending volunteers and residents being filmed Picture Paul Sanwell ANL-160731-151215001