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Since 2013 the charity YOPEY has been recruiting, training and supporting young people to visit care homes and befriend lonely residents, some living with dementia. These young people are known as ‘YOPEY Befrienders’.
During the Covid-19 crisis YOPEY Befrienders are unable to visit care homes, many of which have gone into lock down and are stopping all but essential visits. This means isolated residents will become more lonely than ever. Loneliness doesn’t just make life miserable, it makes you more susceptible to illness and disease.
YOPEY doesn’t want care home residents to feel forgotten so we have set up ‘We want to help by writing letters to care home residents’ (if this is a success, we will also set up ‘We want to help by drawing pictures for care home residents’ and ‘We want to help by making films for care home residents’ ). These will help keep up the spirits of isolated care home residents.
• Parents and teachers of bored children self isolating or social distancing at home can get them to write a letter.
• Teachers can get children of key workers still going to school to write letters as a class exercise.
• Youth organisations who cannot meet can ask their members to write a letter.

The lonely elderly are likely to be feeling scared as they are said to be the age group most likely to become very ill and die from Covid-19. Your letter could help take their mind of this.
We hope the care home residents will write back. If they do we will forwards their letters to you and you may become penpals for the duration of the crisis and maybe beyond.
We want everyone to be able to do this in safety. Covid-19 can stay active on a surface for days. So rather than take any risks, we are asking young people to photograph their one-page letters – or teachers or parents can do this for them – and email the photographs to Or young people can write an email and send that to Many care home residents will not have a phone to photograph their replies, but if they don’t we are sure their care home can do this for them.
This charity will forward your letter to some of the care homes we have been working with since 2013. (Other care homes can apply to take part by emailing me on or telephoning 01440 821654.)
If we receive any replies to your letter from residents we will forward them to you. You could start up a penpal relationship with a resident and write back and forth for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic and possibly beyond. You are welcome if you can to write direct to your new friend, but we still recommend letters are photographed and sent by email.
Everyone should also be aware that people will die during this crisis. But if your penpal dies your letters will have given them great pleasure before they fell terminally ill. Equally your letter could help an elderly feel less lonely and depressed and help them get through this crisis.
Tony Gearing MBE, Woodfarm Cottage, Suffolk, March 2020

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Yopey Befriender

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Registered address
Chief Executive Tony Gearing,Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road

01440 821654

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