Pupils bridge generation gap to make friends with care home elderly

HAVING A GOOD LAUGH -- a Maun View resident sharing a humorous moment or two with pupil Ellie Smith.
HAVING A GOOD LAUGH -- a Maun View resident sharing a humorous moment or two with pupil Ellie Smith.

Students at a school in Mansfield are reaching out to elderly people in a befriending scheme that might prove a government minister wrong.

It was Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who once branded British society’s neglect of the elderly as “our national shame”. He urged the country to learn from other cultures where the young are better at supporting the old.

Now Mr Hunt is to be invited to Mansfield to take a look at a successful scheme being trialled by more than 20 pupils, aged 14 and 15, at All Saints’ Catholic Academy on Broomhill Lane.

They visited residents of the nearby Maun View Care Home on Chesterfield Road South. And they all got on so well that the home is thinking of inviting them back to help with their Christmas party.

The scheme is being run by the national charity, YOPEY (Young People of the Year), which promotes positive behaviour by youngsters and aims to give them a fairer image in society. YOPEY’S founder Tony Gearing said: “I was blown away by the ease with which the young people in Mansfield mixed with the elderly residents, many of whom are living with dementia.”

The students were given a tour of the 77-bed home and were told about the role of care homes within the community, as well as the needs of the elderly residents.

The home’s manager, Alison Riley, said: “We welcome people coming in to mix with the senior citizens. Our residents were particularly pleased to meet the children from All Saints, and they are looking forward to seeing them again at one of our future events.”

All Saints’ head teacher, Paul Greig, said: “Our school is so proud of the students who are giving up their time to support this programme.

“YOPEY gives them the valuable opportunity to support older people and give something back to the community they live in. Some will use this experience to develop their careers and also to improve their awareness of older residents who may live near the school.”

The teacher who led the visit, Jessica Spiby, said: “The students thoroughly enjoyed visiting Maun View, learning about the home and dementia, and meeting the residents. All are keen to go back, and many of their fellow year-ten pupils want to go too.”