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Knitting and memories of school are at the heart of new initiative

PUBLISHED: 12:52 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:52 08 November 2019

A new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELL

A new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELL

Chris Fell

There may be more than half a century between them but a group of teenagers are forming special friendships over knitting and reminiscing.

A new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELLA new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELL

A new charity, which has started-up in Dereham, has trained a group of students from the town's sixth form college as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders.

The 16 and 17-year-olds visited residents at a nearby care home for the first time and will be making weekly trips to York House, based on Norwich Road.

Manager Dawn Bunter said: "I have been very impressed with the students on their first visits.

"They showed much compassion and very caring natures.

A new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELLA new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELL

"I am looking forward to working more closely with this group of young people."

The group of 21 will be forming bonds between the 43 residents, who are aged 65 and above - some of which live with dementia.

Befriender Lucy Osborne, 16, said: "We all went down to York House and were greeted with smiles all round. I spoke to a lovely lady about her interest in knitting. She showed us a piece she was working on."

While Sofia Chapman, 17, added: "I got to know a little about two residents. With one we talked about her love of churches and her desire to go to Norwich Cathedral and with the other we talked about my college and her memories of her time at school."

A new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELLA new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELL

The charity is the brainchild of its founder Tony Gearing.

Mr Gearing was made an MBE in 2017 for services to young people in the UK.

He said: "I truly believe YOPEY befriender friendships are good for both the young and the old. The elderly get companionship and the young develop qualities such as empathy and hear about times before they were born.

"Having served young people, I now want to help young people serve the elderly and would like to create the best inter-generational scheme in the UK.

A new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELLA new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELL

"I want to make East of England counties 'Beacons for Befriending' and I want to make Norfolk one of the brightest beacons of all."

The charity YOPEY is originally from Stradishall, near Haverhill, in Suffolk. It used to run campaigns in Norfolk and other parts of the UK from London to Scotland but is now focussing on setting up and running YOPEY Dementia Befriender schemes mainly in the East of England.

- For more information visit the website here .

A new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELLA new charity has trained a group of students from Dereham Sixth Form College as Young People of the Year (YOPEY) Dementia Befrienders. Picture: CHRIS FELL

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