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'They give good advice' - Yopey befriender scheme builds bridges between generations in Wymondham

PUBLISHED: 09:30 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:36 17 May 2017

Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Archant 2017

Loneliness has become such a problem among our elderly residents that many report going for weeks on end without a conversation with friends or family.

Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. The students have their certificates presented to them by the High Sheriff of Norwich James Bagge.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. The students have their certificates presented to them by the High Sheriff of Norwich James Bagge. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

But a new befriending scheme in which young people visit care home residents is aiming to brighten up the lives of some of our senior citizens.

Wymondham’s Windmill House is the first care home in Norfolk to take part in a Young People of the Year (Yopey) befriending scheme, founded by Tony Gearing, of Suffolk.

A group of Wymondham High Academy Year 12 students has been visiting residents at the home - many of whom have dementia - for an hour a week since late last year.

And this week, James Bagge, the High Sheriff of Norfolk, presented them with certificates of achievements and badges for their efforts.

Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

One student, Maisie Matthews, 17, said: “Even though a lot of the people here have dementia, they still have a lot of interesting stories to tell. They give good advice as well. It has really made me feel more appreciative of the older generation.”

Anushree Baskar, 17, another befriender, said: “I like learning about all the different people’s experiences that are so different to mine.

“It’s nice to make friends with people of a different generation to myself, and learn what life was like when they were young.”

Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

A simple chat is one of the most valuable things

Fran Annis, Windmill House’s activities co-ordinator, said the befrienders got involved in everything from painting, to music and games with the residents.

But, Ms Annis said, one of the most important things was simply talking. She said: “The staff don’t often have a lot of time to chat so the residents really appreciate them coming here.

“And we always welcome any interaction with the community.”

Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. Anushree Baskar with her badge.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. Anushree Baskar with her badge. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Mr Bagge said he was delighted with the students’ efforts, and said they were doing a “sterling job” in helping to improve the care home residents’ lives.

Mr Gearing said the students would keep visiting until the end of the year. He said: “They have said they will do this for a year and I am sure many of them will become good friends to some of the loneliest residents.”

To find out more or to arrange to be part of the scheme, email hello@yopey.org or visit yopey.org

Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017Students from Wymomdham High School receive their certificates for taking part in a befriending scheme at Windmill House in Wymondham. The students have learned to interact and communicate with older people in particular with dementia. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

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