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Charity wants Haverhill schools and care homes to make the most of £25,000 prize

YOPEY founder, Tony Gearing
YOPEY founder, Tony Gearing

A charity won the biggest prize of £25,000 in a national funding competition and is now looking for partners to help expand its befriending scheme between schools and care homes.

YOPEY (Young People of the Year), of Stradishall, came top out of over 3,000 good causes nationwide in the Aviva Community Fund challenge to get enough votes to be put into the final and for its befriending scheme to be judged by a panel of the insurer’s staff.

The charity’s founder Tony Gearing runs the charity from his Bury Road home.

He said: “YOPEY Befriending aims to change the lives of elderly people living with dementia and to give young people life skills. £25,000 is the biggest sum given to YOPEY in its 11-year history.

YOPEY Befriending has been trialing for two years and links secondary schools with care homes.

Young people are given dementia training and supported to befriend elderly residents and enrich their lives.

After training, the young people are expected to visit their local care home regularly and entertain residents. They can join in general activities or form particular friendships and write their friend’s life history.

YOPEY Befriending rewards the young people with certificates as they give more hours, which help in applications to universities and for seeking jobs.

Aviva’s £25,000 will enable YOPEY Befriending to expand to five more care homes and 10 schools.

“In Haverhill and surrounding area, we are looking for care homes and schools that want to take part in YOPEY Befriending from this September, but we want to hear from them NOW!

“We will be asking the care home to contribute and the schools to fundraise for YOPEY Befriending so that when Aviva’s £25,000 runs out, we have the money to continue the project.

“We are also looking for active retired people – they could have been teachers or worked or volunteered with young people – to act as our volunteer liaison officers between the homes and the schools,” explained Tony.

The charity is also looking for great amateur photographers to photograph the befriending.

If you can help call 01440 821654 or email tony@yopey.org.

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