A sports club from a town near YOPEY’s HQ has raised over £1200 for the charity during the pandemic. Haverhill Running Club raised £1269.58 for YOPEY at the height of covid-19.
The club’s immediate past chair Hayley Wilson presented a cheque to the charity’s founder Tony Gearing MBE in a mini ceremony, attended by other club members, in the Suffolk town.
YOPEY – which is short for Young People of the Year – runs befriending schemes between schools and care homes, and trains young people to relate to elderly people living with dementia.
Tony, who manages YOPEY from his home in Stradishall, a village near Haverhill, said: “When the pandemic started, care homes were among the first places to lock down and our young volunteers, known as YOPEY Befrienders, which includes young people from Haverhill, could not visit their elderly friends.
“For a while I thought YOPEY would have to close, but then I had the old-fashioned idea of getting the YOPEY Befrienders to write letters. The young people suggested compiling crosswords and word searches as they had often seen the elderly doing these in care homes.
“Haverhill Running Club’s support during the difficult years of 2020 and 2021 encouraged me to keep YOPEY going, and, despite my earlier fears, the charity has actually grown during 2020 and 2021.
“Today, YOPEY Befrienders from a dozen schools in the East of England are supporting residents in about 2,000 care homes UK-wide and even a few abroad, as far away as Australia. The support continues to be ‘virtual’ – care homes are not ready to receive visits from groups of young people – but YOPEY has survived covid, stronger than ever.”
Hayley said: “Haverhill Running Club knows how difficult it was to remain active during coronavirus. We could not hold all our usual events. However, when we could, we organised race refreshments to raise funds for YOPEY, including during the Suffolk leg of The Women’s Tour top cycle race.”
Many of the club’s 200-plus members ran alone during lockdowns, and some of these got these solo runs sponsored in aid of YOPEY.
“We’re please we could help another organisation that found ways to remain active during the pandemic.”