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Young Person of the Year charity brings back its Befriender Scheme which will see students from County Upper School visit Cornwallis Court in Bury St Edmunds




A befriending scheme which has seen teenagers go into Bury St Edmunds care homes to visit residents living with dementia has returned to the town after a two-year hiatus.

The Young People of the Year charity (YOPEY), based in Stradishall, has relaunched the scheme after training six sixth-form students from County Upper School to visit residents at Cornwallis Court in Hospital Road.

The scheme first came to being in 2015, when charity founder Tony Gearing trained 50 children from County Upper School and St Benedict’s Catholic School to visit St Peter’s House care home in Out Risbygate.

Charlie Gaskin, Joshua Murfitt, Lola Hopkins, Eleanor Heath, Hannah Rouhaud-Keutgen and Millie Ball are taking part in the Young Person of the Year's Befriending Scheme. (21559764)
Charlie Gaskin, Joshua Murfitt, Lola Hopkins, Eleanor Heath, Hannah Rouhaud-Keutgen and Millie Ball are taking part in the Young Person of the Year's Befriending Scheme. (21559764)

The new and improved scheme will now see the students undergo better training and support as well as the ability to record all their visits in a web app.

“This means they have a better record of their volunteering to show prospective universities and employers,” said Tony.

And it’s not just the students’ CVs which feel the benefits of the scheme, but also their personal development.

Paul Fisher, head of sixth form at County Upper, said: “We are always impressed when our students take on additional responsibilities and experiences beyond the immediate school environment.

“The YOPEY initiative has already opened their eyes to the importance of working closely with others in the community and how taking time out of their busy schedules can benefit them and the lives of others.”

Denise O’Brien, home manager at Cornwallis Court, added: “We are very grateful for this opportunity to introduce these young adults into the care environment and look forward to a long and productive partnership with YOPEY.”

Tony, who received an MBE in 2017 for his services to young people, has also set up similar scheme elsewhere in Suffolk, including in Mildenhall, Newmarket and Haverhill, as well as further afield in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

“I want to make the East of England a beacon for befriending and I want to make Suffolk the brightest beacon of all,” he said.

Other sixth-formers who attend St Benedict’s, King Edward VI School or Abbeygate Sixth Form and are interested in taking part can email Tony on hello@yopey.org


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