Young people from Watford win award for befriending elderly care home residents

Watford Observer: Young people from Watford win award for befriending elderly care home residents Young people from Watford win award for befriending elderly care home residents

Young people from two Watford schools have won an award for befriending elderly residents at a town care home.

Pupils from St Michaels and Francis Combe have been visiting the residents of Lancaster Court for the last academic year, and this week their commitment to giving their time and company to the older generation was recognised in a special fish and chips award lunch.

Young People of the Year (YOPEY) awards organiser, Tony Gearing, created the YOPEY Befrienders scheme after realising how many elderly people relied on their television or pets for companionship.

At the lunch on Wednesday, he said: "Two years ago I became saddened by the revelation that one million elderly people feel lonely most or even all of the time.

"I found it particularly upsetting that more than 400,000 elderly people say their TV or pet is their main companion. TV as your best friend - how sad is that.

"Very broadly speaking there is about half a million young people in every school year. So there is about a million sixth-formers in years 12 and 13.

"A million sixth-formers plus a million lonely elderly. There's the solution. Have the million sixth-formers befriend the million lonely elderly, and possibly start a lifetime of becoming amazing citizens."

Tony teamed up with Runwood Homes to set up a befrienders scheme with sixth-formers and residents of Lancaster Court care home.

Tara Hinton, Dhamini Mistryak, Elizabeth White, Rhiann Kandola, Matthew Noble Coombe, Laura Cooke and Anna Majak from Francis Combe Academy, and Tim Enriquez, Caitlin Furlong and Zoe Flower from St Michael's School were presented with certificates.

The ten pupils volunteered at least 13 hours in the home to qualify for the YOPEY Befriender bronze certificate.

Two pupils received silver certificates and cheques to treat themselves.

Luke Buckingham and Sian Roberts, both of St Michael's School, for volunteering at least 26 hours of their time in the home.

Sian borrowed pets, including snakes, to show to residents in the home and took part in other activities. Luke had a teenager's dream job - he set up and ran a 'pub' for the residents. 

Logan Logeswaran, managing director of Runwood Homes, said: "We are delighted to have had the opportunity of welcoming the young students into our care homes.

"We believe they are of real benefit and that they in turn enjoy the experience of talking and working with care staff and also interacting with the elderly residents."

The YOPEY befrienders scheme will run again next year.

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