Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form supports YOPEY

26th Nov 2019 Back

Students become 'Dementia Befrienders' to support charity YOPEY's volunteer scheme

Students at Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form have been working with the young people’s charity ‘YOPEY’ on its ‘Dementia Befriender’ to support the residents at a local care home.

YOPEY is the charity that runs ‘YOPEY Dementia Befriender’ schemes.  These schemes allow young volunteers to befriend residents in care homes, often those with little or no family and more often then not with dementia. 

Students Tom, Lloyd, Daisy, Amulya, Maria and Rana were amongst those attending St John’s House in Norwich as a YOPEY Befriender for almost a year to speak with 
residents and enjoy spending some time with them, whether that be sharing stories, playing games or reading together. 

When speaking to Daisy and Amulya they expressed their love for the programme and said ‘ we hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as we did’. 

The students smiled as they remembered the stories the residents had told them about their youth. One woman in particular stood out to Maria and Rana, they said: ‘she used to talk to us about how she met her husband and how they fell in love whilst dancing’. They explained that this resident wasn’t very open at first but once she got to know them she began to open up to conversation. 

The students explained that another of the residents liked writing poetry but unfortunately his vision was not strong enough to read, so the students would read the poems back to him and he would explain the background of the words he had written. 

The students liked to interact by playing games such as bingo, puzzles and Jenga. As well as this they would often paint the residents nails which they would then compare between themselves. 

At Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form Lloyd, Daisy, Ranu and Maria are all studying Biology, Maths and Chemistry. Tom and Amulya are studying Chemistry, Biology and psychology. 

When asked why they wanted to support this charity and be a part of the programme they explained that they all wish to have a future in medicine and being part of this volunteer
programme would help towards this. Maria said: ‘this has really helped my confidence. Part of going in to medicine is being good with people and knowing how to speak to different people, as well as showing compassion, this has really helped build my confidence in this’. 

It has also helped the students to understand more about dementia and how they can interact with those who have the illness. Training is taken seriously at the charity to 
prepare the students for various situations and interactions. When asked what was involved in the process Tom said: ‘Paperwork! There is a lot of paperwork and a DBS check is needed as well as training on what to do in certain situations’. 

The students spend around 1-1.5 hours at the care home each week and they say the residents are always happy to see them and they have formed a close bond with them.

Having a programme like this in place gives the residents something to focus on and look forward to and means they are having regular visits from people they know and have a connection with, which they thoroughly enjoy. 

When asking the students how they heard about the
programme with YOPEY they said ‘we saw there was a talk in the careers bulletin in school and they needed volunteers so we went along to listen to the charity’s founder Tony 
Gearing MBE and decided we wanted to give it a go.

Find out more about YOPEY at

Photo credit to John Bulpitt