Be A Friend '12

Young People of the Year

Revealing, Recognising and Rewarding Positive Role Models

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What to do next?

Find your local elderly person who lives alone.

You may already know them but for you to enter YOPEY Be A Friend they must not be a relative. Register yourself with YOPEY on the Nominate page to receive a Letter of Introduction by email that you will be able to print out and show to the elderly person.

If you do not know a local person who lives alone, start by asking neighbours.

If you still cannot find one, widen your search by talking to people whose job it is to know people in your community, such as religious leaders (vicars, priests,

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What to talk about?

Introduce yourself. If you don't already know the elderly person, introduce yourself. Make sure to speak loudly and clearly, because some elderly people have trouble hearing. This doesn't mean screaming at them, however! 

If you don't know what someone prefers to be called - ask the person, for example: "Would you prefer I call you John or Mr Stanford?"

Don't overdo names. Some sales people, for instance, use names so often that it appears insincere. Three or four times in a conversation is usually plenty, unless it's a particularly

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Some do's and don'ts

Do keep appointments to the best of your ability. If you have to miss a visit, phone the elderly person as soon as possible. It is better to warn them in advance that you are not going to make it, rather than phone them afterwards. Your visits can become very important to them.

Do ask open questions, such as: What was it like when you were growing up? This will enable the elderly person to decide what they are going to tell you rather than ask closed questions...


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In an emergency

CALL 999.

If it's a medical emergency and you have first-aid training, you may use this once the ambulance is on its way. A paramedic may even advise you over the phone.

Stay with them until the ambulance arrives. You may even be asked to go with them in which case make sure you tell your Responsible Adult or another adult who knows you what is happening and where you are going.

But DO NOT try to revive a dangerously ill elderly person on your own. 

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Pot of tea or clean the whole house?

You are there to befriend the elderly person and make them feel less lonely, and hopefully they will come to like all young people more as a result of your friendship.

Under the 'do's and don'ts' on this page, we tell you not to do household chores for the elderly person. 

However, use your common sense. If, on your first visit the elderly person makes you a cup of tea, but this takes a long time because they are infirm, you can offer to make the tea next time.

You can even offer to wash up but don't offer to clean their

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Be cruel, to be kind

This is a new scheme and you are only 16 or 17. We do not want our young volunteers taking on an elderly person who is seriously ill. They should be supported by professionals. If not report them to social services – you will be doing them a favour.

The main problem we want your help in alleviating is loneliness which happens to many elderly people when their partner dies, they stop working or their family moves away.

We would rather you offer to visit an elderly person who, apart from the obvious signs of ageing, is physically fit and mentally capable. For example,

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