Volunteering with the Elderly | Revealing, Recognising and Rewarding Positive Role Models

YOPEY holds its first golf day to raise funds

YOPEY holds its first golf day to raise funds

YOPEY has held its first fundraising day at a golf club. The charity’s founder Tony Gearing MBE plays golf so this was a way for him to fundraise for his charity while enjoying his hobby.
About £3,000 looks like being raised for YOPEY’s befriending partnerships between care homes and schools by Gosfield Lake Golf Club near Halstead in Essex.
Over 50 players, men and women, took part in the competition. Most were members of Gosfield Lake but other clubs were represented including Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill.
“This was our first fundraiser at a golf club and it went really well,” said Tony. “I hope other golf clubs in the East of England invite us to put on a charity day for them.
“Post pandemic it’s harder to win grants from foundations,” added Tony. “So charity golf days could become a vital alternative source of funds for YOPEY.”
After the match and lunch, Tony and a young YOPEY Befriender told the golfers about the work of the charity.
Seventeen-year-old Emily Ward – a sixth-former at Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard who visits residents at a Sudbury care home – said volunteering with YOPEY had increased her confidence.
Emily spoke about “why I love Befriending. The main reason being able to make people smile – something which I cherish dearly.”
The teenager obviously had an effect on her audience. “Golfers approached me after my speech to thank me. One man told me that the speech meant a lot as his mother had just moved into a care home. I was touched by this.”
Gosfield Lake captain Les Turner, who chose YOPEY as his charity for 2023, said: “Like many other golf clubs, we at Gosfield Lake have lost members to dementia in recent years.
“I thought it appropriate to support a local charity during my captaincy year. YOPEY Befrienders visit those suffering from any of the many causes of dementia to provide some companionship and social contact.
“To date, with the support of club members and helpers, we have raised about £2,700 towards this great cause.”
At least one more event at the Essex club is planned to add to this total.
Prizes and auction items were described by one participant as “the best I’ve ever seen” with golf equipment, wine and spirits donated by YOPEY and Gosfield members. YOPEY trustee Joanne Gearing is a keen potter and made a championship plate that was won by one Gosfield member.

Giant cheque: from left, Jo Gearing, Emily Ward, Tony Gearing and Les Turner

Recognition and prizes for Huntingdon YOPEY teens

Recognition and prizes for Huntingdon YOPEY teens

YOPEY Befrienders from a school and a college in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, were celebrated at an awards event at the care home they have been visiting for many months.

Sixth-form students from Hinchingbrooke School and health and social care students from the Huntingdon campus of Cambridge Regional College (CRC) have been visiting residents at Hunters Down care home in Hartford Road since before Christmas.

The YOPEY Befrienders tended to visit weekly for an hour or two, joined in activities with the residents, played games and had conversations with the elderly.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing MBE said: “Keeping people with dementia mentally and physically active is believed to slow the progress of these terrible diseases.

“At the same time teenagers born in the 21st century are learning about the 20th century. Many people living in care homes nowadays were children in the Second World War. The young get to learn about the 1940s, 50s and 60s from people who were there.”

Hunters Down Manager Anca Markley said: “The people living at Hunters Down Care Home really valued the presence of the YOPEY Befrienders. Their visits filled our care home with a delightful sense of companionship, immensely benefiting everyone involved.

“Through meaningful interactions and shared experiences, these intergenerational sessions brought joy, laughter, and a renewed sense of purpose to the lives of the people who call Hunters Down ‘home’.

“We are very grateful to the students for their visits. Their impact was truly remarkable, reminding us all of the power of these important bonds within our community.”

Seven teenagers were presented with certificates and rewards by the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Bharat Khetani. Dr Khetani, a retired GP, said he was “extremely delighted to see youngsters engaged in such a worthwhile activity befriending lonely residents, many with declining cognitive function”.

All the young people were given certificates for the number of hours they had spent with the residents. A few were given second certificates recognising extra special efforts.

Sixteen-year-old Alyssa Estacio was given a second certificate for understanding dementia after managing to communicate with a resident who had become non-verbal.

“Me and Margaret decided to read a magazine and do the word finder in it. From what I could tell, she really liked the magazine. Margaret was nice to talk to even if she didn’t talk back.”

Seventeen-year-old Mark Smith was awarded an inspiration certificate for being dedicated to 93-year-old Janet. He cycles to see her every week.

Mark said: “YOPEY has led to my confidence greatly increasing and my communication skills have also improved. I am very grateful for everything that Yopey has given me and hope that more young people take part in this amazing opportunity.”

All the young people were given free memberships to One Leisure, which runs leisure centres in Huntingdon, and handmade chocolate ‘bark’ by Glorious Chocolate. Mark was also presented with a £50 voucher by Huntingdon cycle shop Richardson’s.

YOPEY will be running another YOPEY Befriender community partnership for Ferrars Hall care home in Ferrars Road from September, hopefully involving a second Huntingdon secondary school as well as new Hinchingbrooke sixth-formers and CRC Huntingdon students.

Awards for Ipswich YOPEY Befrienders

Awards for Ipswich YOPEY Befrienders

Young people from three schools were celebrated at an awards event in a care home in Ipswich. The home and the West Suffolk charity that trained them to befriend people living with dementia laid on the event.

Sixth-form students from Ipswich School, St Alban’s Catholic High School and St Joseph’s College have been visiting residents at Prince of Wales House in Prince of Wales Drive since before Christmas.

Known as ‘YOPEY Befrienders’ they tend to visit weekly for an hour or two, join in activities with the residents, play games and have conversations with the elderly.

Founder of the Newmarket charity YOPEY, Tony Gearing MBE, said: “Keeping people with dementia mentally and physically active is believed to slow the progress of these terrible diseases.

“At the same time teenagers born in the 21st century are learning about the 20th century. Many people living in care homes nowadays were children in the Second World War. The young get to learn about the 1940s, 50s and 60s from people who were there.”

Prince of Wales House is owned by The Partnership In Care. Clinical Director Rachel Fitton said: “It has been such a pleasure to watch these young befrienders grow and develop relationships with those living within the home.

“Intergenerational friendships like these are truly symbiotic. With the breadth of skills and experience amongst our community here at Prince of Wales House, they love sharing with those starting out into adulthood, who are willing and enthusiastic to learn and develop as individuals.”
Seven teenagers from Ipswich School and St Joseph’s College were presented with certificates and rewards by the High Sheriff of Suffolk, Mark Pendlington. Seven teenagers from St Alban’s were unable to attend but have been sent rewards via school. Mark called all the YOPEY Befrienders “amazing”.

The certificates ranged from recognising the numbers of hours each young person had given to the elderly to marking extra special efforts by some of the young volunteers.

One teenager told the crowd of adults that included their teachers, residents and care workers about the time she and other YOPEY Befrienders joined in a coronation party at the home, in which a singer sang songs that were familiar to King Charles and the residents.

Seventeen-year-old Isabel said: “We were given ribbons and danced with residents to the Beatles and cockney songs. It was heartwarming to watch their souls reignited and the flooding of happy memories cued by the music. It was also really fascinating to listen to their stories due to their memories.”

Headmaster of Ipswich School, Nicholas Weaver, said: “I am so proud of our students. It was wonderful to hear their reflections on what they have learned, and to speak to the residents they had befriended about what a difference their visits had made.”

Principal Danielle Clarke pledged to encourage more St Joseph’s students to volunteer. “They gain so much experience, knowledge and confidence from YOPEY Befriender.”

From September new YOPEY Befrienders from St Joseph’s will visit Prince of Wales House while Ipswich School YOPEY Befrienders will visit a second Ipswich care home, Sherrington House in Sherrington Road.

Rachel added: “We look forward to welcoming more YOPEY Befrienders to Sherrington House, as well as Prince of Wales House, this autumn.”

YOPEY has invited other schools in Ipswich with sixth forms to take part as well as Suffolk One sixth form college.

Tribute to a former YOPEY Befriender who has died

Tribute to a former YOPEY Befriender who has died

Before the pandemic I started a new YOPEY Dementia Befriender community partnership between the Dereham Sixth Form College and a care home in the Norfolk town.
Kasey Challenger was one of about 20 sixth-formers who were trained by me and taken to York House. They learned how to befriend people with dementia as the majority of elderly people living in care homes have these terrible diseases.
Kasey had visited the care home a couple of times when the Coronavirus struck and all care homes were locked down before the rest of us.
Now care homes residents were isolated as well as lonely.
While most of her fellow Dereham College YBs faded away, Kasey asked me what she could do. She was a talented musician, a keen poet and turned out to be a talented film editor too.
She made a music video and then she helped me produce about 20 YOPEY Virtual Variety Shows, which you can still see on YouTube today.
Kasey said I was a demanding task-master but she truly loved editing these videos and contributed many acts herself.
Inspired by her experience as a YB, between sixth-form and uni, Kasey got a job as an activities coordinator at another Norfolk care home.
She writes about this experience in an older post on this page.
Now I hear she has taken her life while at university.
I have spoken to her mother and send my condolences to all who were close to Kasey.
Kasey was an outstanding YOPEY Befriender. Had she lived I am sure she would have had a great career in whatever she chose to do. I will miss her.
Tony Gearing MBE

Smiles galore during first visit

Smiles galore during first visit

SMILES GALORE show young and old enjoying themselves as young people from a Suffolk sixth Form visit residents at a care home for the first time.

After arriving at Hazell Court in Sudbury, the 16 and 17 year-olds from Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard joined in a bingo-like game before finding out about their new friends’ lives.

One resident told 17-year-old Kaedyn Duke about his experiences as a child during the Second World War, having a “fantastic time” playing on bomb sites. “This was a really interesting conversation.”

Another resident told 16-year-old Maisie Young that she was in her 90s and had lived in the area her whole life. “I spoke to her about her five children and she told me how her youngest daughter took her to London on her 92nd birthday.”

Emily Ward, 17, discovered shared interests in exercise, nature and cooking with a resident. “She told me ‘It is so lovely to find someone like me’.”

The young people were taught to relate to people living with dementia by YOPEY’s founder Tony Gearing MBE. “I was very impressed by these young people’s willingness to help a generation who are probably even older than their grandparents.”

The aim is that the YOPEY Befrienders will come from their sixth-form centre to the care home to visit the residents regularly and take part in activities – maybe even putting on a few of their own.

The YOPEY Befrienders will write reports about what they do during each visit, building up a personal Record of Volunteering Achievement that they can put into their career CV and include in applications to universities and for jobs. YOPEY will compile a summary of all the records that Hazell Court and Thomas Gainsborough School can show to their respective inspection bodies.

Rachel Fitton, the Clinical Director of The Partnership In Care, which owns Hazell Court, said: “We are delighted to be working on this intergenerational project with YOPEY which brings many benefits for all involved.”

Kenny Alexander, Director of Thomas Gainsborough Sixth Form, said: “I’m sure our students will bring a lot of happiness to the residents of Hazell Court.”

Singalong shows made by young for elderly to enjoy

Singalong shows made by young for elderly to enjoy

During the coronavirus pandemic young people volunteering with the charity YOPEY started supporting locked-down care home residents ‘virtually’ by writing letters, making activities, sharing artworks and shooting entertaining videos.

The videos were put together into shows called YOPEY Virtual Variety Show and given a number. YOPEY Virtual Variety Show 19 and 20 are karaoke singalong specials, full of songs your residents will remember, even if they have dementia, from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

All the songs are sung, or played along to, by young YOPEY Befrienders.

The activities coordinator at one care home given an early viewing said her residents did not just sing along, they got up and danced!

You can find show 19 or, to give it its full title, Songs of Yesteryear SINGALONG SPECIAL for care home residents to enjoy – Part A, here

The singalong songs in Part A, all with karaoke-style captions, are:

• The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand sung by Kasey Challenger, aged 19
• I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles sung by Helen Foster, aged 24
• Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man sung by Amy Beilby, aged 26
• The Hokey Cokey sung – and danced to – by members of Pulp Friction, a group for young people with learning difficulties
• Julie Andrews’ The Sound of Music played on the flute by Kara Parker, aged 21
• Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon sung by Keira Gibson, aged 16
• Stephen Sondheim’s Send In The Clowns sung by Cherrelle Ford, aged 26
• When The Saints Go Marching In sung by Kasey Challenger.

Part B with more great songs from yesteryear is here

The singalong songs in Part B are:

• Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life sung by Max, aged 16
• Judy Garland’s Over The Rainbow sung by Helen , aged 24
• Alexander’s Ragtime Band sung by Amy B, aged 26
• The Beatles’ Let It Be sung by Erica, aged 19
• The Monkees’ Daydream Believer sung by Kasey, aged 19
• Daisy Bell played on the flute by Kara, aged 21
• A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square sang by Amy C, aged 17
• Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again sang by Amy B

Please let us know what your residents think of the show by commenting below the shows on YouTube. If you subscribe to our YOPEY Befriender channel, I believe you will hear first when we put up other shows and videos.