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Young dementia friends from Wickhambrook are ready to help

More than 30 primary schoolchildren have been trained to be Dementia Friends and are now looking for a care home to visit in the area.

Tony and Jo Gearing, of the Stradishall-based charity Yopey, gave an assembly about befriending lonely elderly people with dementia to all of key stage 2, about 80 children, at Wickhambrook Primary Academy.

Afterwards the couple, both of whom are Dementia Champions with the Alzheimer’s Society, trained Years 4 and 5, more than 30 children, to be Dementia Friends.

The Wickhambrook Primary Academy Dementia Friends. Picture by Chris Fell
The Wickhambrook Primary Academy Dementia Friends. Picture by Chris Fell

Yopey mainly works with secondary schools and currently has Dementia Befriender schemes running with Castle Manor Academy, in Haverhill, among other Suffolk secondaries and other schools further afield in East Anglia.

This is only the second time the charity has worked with a primary school, the first being Burton End, in Haverhill.

Mr Gearing said: “While Yopey is more used to working with secondary school teenagers, these younger children were very attentive, and took in everything my wife and I had to say about how to befriend people living with dementia.”

Mrs Gearing added: “Despite the fact the children now know they
are likely to be forgotten the
moment they leave someone with dementia, they would still like
to visit a local care home and befriend its residents.”

All the children wrote pledges to be kind to people living with dementia, to help them and listen to their stories.

Eight-year-old Will said he would ‘talk to them and comfort them’ and Woody, nine, said: “I will help them if they are struggling”.

Summer, eight, wrote: “I will make them feel like they are at home, be patient with them, talk to them and comfort them.”

Headteacher Ros Towns said: “Both the assembly and the follow-on workshops provided an excellent insight into the experiences of people living with dementia.

“Our children are now looking forward to the prospect of supporting dementia patients and the elderly in a local care home. For such young learners they want to show their compassion and understanding. Our children are an example to all of us.”

Yopey is looking for a care home in West Suffolk that has a minibus that can be used to collect small groups of the children from the school to visits its residents.

A similar scheme, overseen by Yopey, has been working in Haverhill for two years. Groups of children from Burton End’s older classes visit The Meadows care home about twice a term.

If your care home has a minibus and would like the Wickhambrook children to visit, contact Yopey on hello@yopey.org or 01440 821654.