West Suffolk charity aims to expand after £25k cash boost

Young trainees help the elderly on the YOPEY Befriending Scheme. ANL-150720-093101001

Young trainees help the elderly on the YOPEY Befriending Scheme. ANL-150720-093101001

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A small West Suffolk charity is planning to expand a scheme to help both elderly and young people across the county after winning £25,000 in a national funding competition.

YOPEY Befriending, based in Stradishall, came top out of more than 3,000 good causes in the Aviva Community Fund challenge, with judges scoring its entry highly against ‘some very strong competition’.

The charity plans to use its winnings to expand a trial scheme between care homes and schools, which aims to train young people to care for and support elderly people with dementia.

The trainees are expected to visit their local care home regularly and entertain residents, through general activities or particular friendships.

Tony Gearing, the charity’s founder, said: “We want to enable young people to cope better with dementia.

“This need is going to grow because, as we live longer, it is estimated that one in three of us will get dementia.”

The charity is looking for care homes and schools in Bury, Stowmarket, Thetford and the surrounding areas to take part in the scheme from September.

“We will be asking the care home to contribute and the schools to fund-raise for YOPEY Befriending, so when Aviva’s £25,000 runs out, we have the money to continue the project,” said Tony.

“We are also looking for active retired people to act as our volunteer liaison officers.”

Aviva’s £25,000 prize is the largest sum given to YOPEY in its 11 year history. The charity runs annual Young People of the Year campaigns, or YOPEYs, across the UK.

Any care homes, schools or volunteers interested in taking part in YOPEY Befriending are asked to call 01440 821654 or email tony@yopey.org.