'It is heartwarming': Teenagers tackle loneliness and dementia
PUBLISHED: 18:00 10 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:00 10 October 2019
Half of the people living in St John's House care home in Norwich have dementia, many are lonely and some do not get any visitors.
But that has changed - thanks to seven teenagers from Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich - who have collectively made nearly 200 visits and spent more than 250 hours at St John's House on Heigham Road.
A spokesperson for St John's House said: "The years seem to melt away as experiences are shared.
"There is laughter and memories are evoked of childhood and school days. There has not been a generation divide between the young students and our residents."
The students have also made a huge difference to those in the care home living with dementia.
The spokesperson added: "Our residents who are living with a dementia have found these visits beneficial and it has been heartwarming to see. The students have treated each of them with respect and seen the person not the dementia.
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"They are people who have lived a full life, had a breadth of experiences and all have a story to tell. The students have learnt how important it is to keep these memories alive, by engaging, connecting and reminiscing."
And the students, who are aged 17 and 18, have become the second highest Young People of the Year (YOPEY) befrienders in the country.
Stradishall based charity YOPEY trains older school children and connects them with people living in care homes.
YOPEY founder Tony Gearing, who is an MBE for services to young people in the UK, said: "I want to make young people in Norfolk among the best befrienders in the country.
"We have other YOPEY Befriender schemes in Norfolk starting in Wymondham and Dereham, but currently the YOPEY Befriender scheme in Norwich is the best in the county and the second best in the country."
The scheme does not only benefit people living in care homes though, as the students have also reaped in the benefits.
A spokesperson for Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form said: "Our students have gained skills useful to them in future careers such as medicine, nursing and other people-focused jobs but, more importantly, they have gained new friends from a different generation."