YOPEY founder to receive MBE

Posted on June 21st, by geoff in Caring Times. Comments Off on YOPEY founder to receive MBE

The former national newspaper journalist who runs ‘YOPEY Befriender’ – a scheme that recruits young people to volunteer in care homes – was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on June 17.

Tony Gearing used to work for the print media – at one point he was deputy editor on the Daily Telegraph – but left full-time journalism to set up YOPEY, which stands for Young People of the Year in the early noughties.

He started YOPEY Befriender in 2013 after becoming aware of the loneliness of many elderly people. After taking YOPEY Befriender into care homes he realised he needed to learn about dementia and pass these skills on to the young people who volunteer to become YOPEY Befrienders. He and his wife Jo, who also works of the organisation, are Dementia Champions with the Alzheimer’s Society.

Tony is currently running YOPEY Befriender schemes in eight care homes, including ones run by independent operators as well as major chains. Care UK is a new customer, having recently commissioned him to set up YOPEY Befriender schemes in three of its homes.

“We are growing fast,” said Tony.

“I have six new YOPEY Befriender schemes to launch this autumn. It is hugely satisfying work, bringing the generations together in support and friendship.”

Speaking about his honour, which he will go to Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle to receive from the Queen in the next few months, Tony said: “I haven’t achieved this alone. This MBE is for all the young people who are YOPEY Befrienders. They are all helping to bring extra joy into the lives of care home residents and relieve a little of the pressure on care home staff. The young also receive knowledge, wisdom and life lessons that will stand them in good stead for the future.”

Logan Logeswaran, managing director of the Runwood Group, the first of several care home companies to use YOPEY Befriender, said: “I have seen for myself the results of the scheme in our care homes, which I believe will educate all the students that participate to have a better understanding of elderly people and the people who care for them, and in turn make these young people better citizens in the future.

“Tony’s enthusiasm for his work and the effort he puts into into making it right for everyone involved is worthy of recognition in the honours list.”

Tony is interested in hearing from care homes that would like to make a donation to the YOPEY charity in return for having a YOPEY Befriender scheme. He is also interested in hearing from companies that provide products or services to care homes who would like to sponsor schemes as a way of promoting their business.

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