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16 May 2018

Wanted: Trusted befrienders for children in care

Shannon and her former independent visitor Jacqui

Wiltshire Council is looking for reliable, caring adults who can offer long-term friendships to young people in care.

It seeks Independent Visitors volunteers who can spend time with young people in care who would benefit from the guidance and kindness of a fun, friendly adult.

Their role is to ‘visit, advise and befriend' the young person with whom they are matched.

Young people in care often experience disruption in their lives. An Independent Visitor is a trusted adult from outside the system who can offer consistent, long-term help throughout the time a young person is in care and on leaving care.

Once an IV is appointed, they visit and spend time with the young person about once every three or four weeks.

Shannon, who is now 21, met her Independent Visitor, Jacqui, when she was a 13-year-old in foster care. She said: "It was one of the best things I did".

"She has been amazing through some really difficult times in my life and I appreciate her so much.

"I feel that we have built a great friendship we will keep forever. I know that we will stay in touch and continue to see each other because this was more than just a scheme to us in the end.

"My IV is an amazing woman and I'd recommend this scheme to other young people for sure. She really is the only person I have to confide in and is so supportive."

Jacqui said: "This is truly one of the best things that I have ever done and I have formed a relationship for life. 

"It was an incredibly rewarding adventure, which went from visiting a child to developing a close friendship with an amazing and strong young woman.

"Now that she is an adult of 21 and has left the scheme our friendship will grow and develop.

"I have learned so much from my young person and as she has got older we have become more like the best of friends.

"For anyone considering becoming an Independent Visitor and who has the time to commit to it for the next five-plus years I would say ‘definitely do it'!"

Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council's cabinet member for children, said: "The friendships that grow between the adult visitors and the young people are utterly priceless. 

"Young people in care can feel lonely and isolated, and that they sometimes have no-one who they feel is whole-heartedly on their side. An Independent Visitor can fill that space as a faithful friend who is ready to listen and lend a hand at an often troubling and confusing stage in their life.

"Wiltshire Council is  eager to help this project and we would love to hear from any adults who think they have something to offer in this role."

No formal qualifications are required to become an IV, although potential volunteers must meet the specification and role description requirements for the role. All volunteers are required to obtain clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.

For more information about IVs, whether you are a potential volunteer or know a youngster in care who might benefit from an IV, call the scheme manager Sheila Lupton on 01225 713934 or 07733 303124 or email sheila.lupton@wiltshire.gov.uk

More details can be found at our website.

Last updated: 16 May 2018 | Last reviewed: 16 May 2018

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