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.

Let's win some top prizes!

Let’s change this ‘never the bride, always the bridesmaid’ run of luck

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing has nominated a handful of YOPEY Befrienders for prizes this year. Most have won something but not a top prize as yet.

Mary Whittingdale and Milly Eddy of St Benedict’s School in Bury St Edmunds were runners-up in the High Sheriff of Suffolk’s awards for volunteers, Tilly Watts of County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds was a runner-up in Suffolk’s Raising the Bar educational awards and Rebecca Meggs of Ormiston Sudbury

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Nomination for a YOPEY Befriender to win an award – this could be YOU!

Rebecca Meggs, from Sudbury, is the outstanding YOPEY Befriender nationwide in 2017. A YOPEY Befriender is a young person who volunteers to visit lonely residents in care homes. The scheme started in 2013 and so far more than 500 young people from Suffolk and four other counties have been involved.

About half the young people find befriending elderly people with dementia too difficult and leave the scheme. Rebecca spotted this and recruited others she thought more suitable – not just from her friendship group

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Wymondham befrienders recruit their successors

Photographs by John Bulpitt

As the first year of YOPEY Befrienders from Wymondham in mid Norfolk come to the end of their scheme at a local care home, their replacements were being trained at the same care home.

Moreoever the outgoing year 13s recruited their replacements from year 12 by giving an assembly and chatting to those interested.

Thirteen were chosen to fill their shoes at Windmill House, although some of the year 13s expect to continue

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Nearly 50 girls from Watford Grammar to visit care home

Photographs by John Flynn

The first 15 of nearly 50 teenagers from Watford Grammar School for Girls have visited a care home in the town, learned about dementia and chatted with elderly residents.

At the end of the visit to the 80-bed Greenbanks – which also included learning about the role of care homes in the community – the 14-15 year-olds were given YOPEY Befriender badges by Marion Brown MBE JP DL, who represented the Hertfordshire Lieutenancy which in turns represents

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Second group of Watford Grammar girls visit care home

Photographs by John Flynn

A second group of 16 teenagers from Watford Grammar School for Girls have visited a care home in the town, learned about dementia and chatted with elderly residents.

At the end of the visit to the 80-bed Greenbanks – which also included learning about the role of care homes in the community – the 14-15 year-olds were given YOPEY Befriender badges by Marion Brown MBE JP DL, who represented the Hertfordshire Lieutenancy which in turns represents the Queen.

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My time as a YOPEY Befriender

Majella O'Riordan is coming to the end of her year during which she has clocked up a magnificient 110 hours, earning our top Platinum award. She has also been awarded our Special award. When you read her account of how close and how helpful she has become to residents you will know why.

At the start of my volunteering at the care home, I went round with a senior carer who empowered me to engage in conversation and or hand-holding to reassure the elderly residents. This also made me feel safe and that I could give back to

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Over 50 teens become YOPEY Befrienders at Poole care home

Photographs by Tony Gearing

These photos are from the first visit by more than 50 sixth-formers from three schools in Poole, Dorset, to local Care UK care home The Potteries.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing MBE and care home manager Zita Turner led three training sessions for eight boys from Poole Grammar, 27 girls from Parkstone Grammar and 22 girls from Corfe Hills School.

If any of the newly trained YOPEY Befrienders would like to write about their visit YOPEY will add their words here and give them a 'byline'

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Dunmow school and care home join YOPEY Befriender

Photographs by Paul Sanwell

Teenagers from an Essex secondary school have been trained to make friends with elderly people living with dementia.

The sixth-formers from Helena Romanes School in Great Dunmow were recruited by the charity YOPEY and trained at the Redbond Lodge care home in the town.

Once they have passed DBS checks, the aim is that once a week the 11 young people will walk from their school in Parsonage Downs to the care home in Cheques Lane and visit the home’s 83 residents, some of whom do not get...
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Leading boy is given an award

One of the YOPEY Befrienders from Rushcliffe School in West Bridgford was invited to an awards ceremony by the Colonel David Sneath, the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire.

Jack Dewick was given the High Sheriff's award for a young volunteer because – and we quote Col Sneath's citation here – "Jack Dewick befriended two residents at Leawood Manor care home in West Bridgford, Harry and Brian, and clocked up over 40 hours of visits. Although deeply upset when Harry died last December, Jack decided to persevere because Brian still needed him.

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Another high tea with another  sheriff
 – this time in Cambridge

Photographs by Chris Fell


For articles about these YOPEY Befrienders in their local media click through the album on left

The High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire has praised sixth-formers from Netherhall School who give companionship to care home residents in Cambridge.



Sixth-formers from the school in Queen Ediths Way visit residents at Cherry Hinton Care Home in Cherry Hinton Road – where they spend an hour or so each week chatting to them, exchanging news and

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