Appeal launched to vote for YOPEY Befriender scheme to continue in Bury St Edmunds

YOPEY Care home party

YOPEY Care home party - Credit: Archant

A Bury St Edmunds scheme that uses young people to befriend elderly care home residents with dementia will come to an end in the town soon unless it finds new sources of funds.

Stradishall charity founder Tony Gearing, who was made an MBE this summer “for services to young people”, is calling on people to vote for YOPEY Befriender in the Aviva Community Fund.

YOPEY, the charity Tony founded, has been running YOPEY Befriender at two care homes in Bury for two years. More than 150 school pupils from County Upper and St Benedict’s volunteered to visit lonely care home residents, many of them with dementia.

A group of more than 20 14-15 year-olds have been visiting St Peter’s House, in Out Risbygate, where all the residents have dementia, since the start of this year. But this will be the last group and their volunteering will end at Christmas unless YOPEY wins an Aviva Community Fund prize or another source of funds is found.

“Sadly as dementia changes people’s personality their families find it difficult to visit. YOPEY Befrienders fill that gap in the hearts of elderly care home residents,” explained Tony.

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“The young people also benefit as they learn life lessons and acquire skills that will help their families if they have a loved one develop dementia.”

To vote for YOPEY Befriender in the Aviva Community Fund competiton, which has over £1 million to give to good causes, go to, register and search YOPEY Befriender. Everyone has 10 votes.

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Voting closes on Monday, November 20.

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