Haverhill schoolchildren receive recognition for their befriending work from Suffolk's High Sheriff
The High Sheriff of Suffolk presented children from a Haverhill school with a certificate for taking part in ‘YOPEY Dementia Befriender’ – the scheme run by a Stradishall charity between schools and care homes to bridge the generation gap between the young and the lonely elderly.
Roz Eminson, the High Sheriff, visited The Meadows care home in Brybank Road, Hanchett Village, and met children from Burton End Primary Academy.
The dozen children were 10 to 11-year-olds who are about to leave Burton End. They had come to say goodbye to residents, many of whom are living with dementia.
The charity YOPEY made the pupils Dementia Friends over a year ago and has trained their replacements, currently in Year 5, to take over from them.
In all the charity has made Dementia Friends out of about 90 children at Burton End.
Groups from the primary school visit The Meadows about half-a-dozen times a year.
Mrs Eminson congratulated the children and gave them a framed certificate from YOPEY – which is based at the Bury Road home of its founder Tony Gearing MBE – to hang at their school.
The ‘Partnership Award’ says: “This school has taken part in the YOPEY Befriender scheme, where pupils from this school have learned about dementia and use this knowledge to befriend lonely elderly people in a local care home”.
Mr Gearing said: “Most of our schemes involve secondary schools but in our home town we have decided to experiment with a primary school and this ‘junior’ YOPEY Befriender scheme is going very well.”
Karen Sheargold, the headteacher of Burton End, said:””The Dementia Friends visits have become an important and highly valued part of our school calendar, helping the children promote and understand the school’s key values of respect and empathy.”
Mrs Eminson said: “I found the befriending scheme fascinating. The children were so impressive in the way they have become accustomed to the elderly in the care home.”
The High Sheriff added that the children “created a marvellous, happy and carefree atmosphere around the residents.”
She said the scheme was “beneficial at both ends of the age scale”.
Helen Selby, the manager of The Meadows, said: “The residents love having the playfulness and noise of the children from Burton End around them.”
The High Sheriff’s visit to The Meadows coincided with a performance by Elvis Presley impersonator Pete Webb, who kissed the hands of several of the female residents and Mrs Eminson. The High Sheriff, who was accompanied by her husband Clive, was also given a personal ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ hip swivel.
Mrs Eminson added: “The arrival of Elvis was an unexpected bonus which we all enjoyed!”
YOPEY has also set up a more conventional YOPEY Dementia Befriender scheme between The Meadows and Castle Manor Academy using children aged at least 13.