Revealing, Recognising and Rewarding Positive Role Models
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Recognition and prizes for Huntingdon YOPEY teens

14th Jul 2023 | News

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.

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