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Haverhill schoolchildren form a new link with town care home

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Nearly 60 10-11 year-olds at a Haverhill school have been trained to be Dementia Friends and will now be visiting residents at a care home in the town.

Tony and Jo Gearing, of the Stradishall-based charity YOPEY, gave an assembly about befriending lonely elderly people with dementia to 200 children at Burton End Primary Academy.

Afterwards the couple, both of whom are Dementia Champions with the Alzheimer’s Society, trained 58 year 5s plus their teachers and classroom assistants to be Dementia Friends.

Mr Gearing said: “YOPEY is more used to working with teenagers but these children were very attentive, and took in everything my wife and I had to say about how to befriend someone with dementia.

“They also understood why it is important to keep visiting people with dementia even if they forget you the moment you leave.”

Mrs Gearing said: “Even though the children know they maybe forgotten they still wanted to visit care home residents who are possibly older than their grandparents.

“These elderly people could start out strangers but may end up being firm friends.”

Headteacher Karen Sheargold told Mr and Mrs Gearing: “Your assembly and year 5 session has given us all – both children and adults – much food for thought and provoked insightful discussion. It has been rewarding to see our children sharing their caring side and has helped remind us that laying these empathetic foundations must continue to be the cornerstone of primary education. See how you have inspired us!”

YOPEY has set up a partnership between the school and The Meadows care home in Brybank Road, Haverhill.

The plan is for the pupils to visit the care home residents in mini-bus size groups as regularly as possible.

The Meadows manager, Helen Selby, said The Meadows, not all of whose residents have dementia, was looking forward to the visits by the Burton End pupils as “most of our residents appear to become happier and brighter around children”.

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