Thomas Gainsborough School students aim to make difference to lives of people with dementia

A group of students at Thomas Gainsborough School have trained to befriend people with dementia at c

A group of students at Thomas Gainsborough School have trained to befriend people with dementia at care homes. Picture: YOPEY - Credit: Archant

A group of pupils from a west Suffolk school have taken part in a friendship scheme aiming to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia.

A group of students at Thomas Gainsborough School have trained to befriend people with dementia at c

A group of students at Thomas Gainsborough School have trained to befriend people with dementia at care homes. Picture: YOPEY - Credit: Archant

Sixth-formers from Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard were recruited by Suffolk charity YOPEY (Young People of the Year), and trained at Mellish House care home in the village.

Once DBS checks have been passed, the aim is for the 20 students to walk from their school in Wells Hall Road to Mellish House and its sister care home Hillside in Kings Hill to visit the 90-plus residents at the two homes.

Mellish House – recently rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – is a specialist dementia care home.

The charity’s founder Tony Gearing, from Stradishall, has previously run YOPEY campaigns in Suffolk and other counties.


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He said: “It can be quite daunting at first to make conversation with someone with dementia.

“But following the training and with further support from the care home staff, I am sure the young people will be able to fill a gap in the hearts of lonely residents.”

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Maekhala Allan, Mellish House manager, said: “Everyone at Mellish House and Hillside are very excited to be starting the befriending scheme with YOPEY and the sixth-form students.

“We pride ourselves on involving the community with our residents and cannot praise enough the positive effects community involvement has for them.

“We are delighted and honoured the students are coming to Mellish House and Hillside to befriend our residents.

“This has already been celebrated by our residents in one of their regular meetings and they are really looking forward to meeting the young people.”

Kenny Alexander, Thomas Gainsborough School’s director of sixth form, said: “We think the YOPEY Befriender scheme is a fantastic initiative. We are extremely proud to be involved again.

“Our sixth-form students have gained such an insight into care in our community, as well as being able to make a difference to the lives of the elderly residents in care homes.

“The students have also gained invaluable skills that will make such a difference to the next steps in their lives. I believe that our continued commitment and collaboration with YOPEY Befriender will continue to grow and benefit all involved.”

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