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More volunteers needed for popular scheme which provides support for children in care

A popular scheme which links independent adult volunteers with young people in care is looking for more people to join its committed team so it can expand its good work.

Published 22 October 2020

A popular scheme which links independent adult volunteers with young people in care is looking for more people to join its committed team so it can expand its good work.

An Independent Visitor (IV) offers regular long-term support and friendship to a young person living in foster or residential care. Every local authority has a duty to provide this service for its young people.

The scheme aims to link up children and young people in foster or residential care with volunteer adults who are independent from the care system. Young people have to be keen to take up the offer of an IV, and if they want to take part in the scheme they are linked up with their own unique person who will befriend, visit and support them while they are in care.

In Wiltshire 57 young people are already linked up with visitors. However due to the schemes ongoing popularity with young people there are plans to expand the scheme further over the coming years. The scheme is keen to hear from anyone aged over 18 who is interested in this role, particularly male volunteers and those able to travel to visit young people living outside Wiltshire borders.

Volunteers are all offered regular training and ongoing support in their role and once appointed become a member of the volunteer team.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Children. Education and Skills said:

Our young people in care really value having a trusted independent adult to talk to and make a positive difference in their lives.

We are grateful to those who already give their time and we'd like to encourage more to join us and be part of this extremely valuable team.

Helen is an Independent Visitor who first met nine-year-old Katie in 2009, when she was living with her foster mum.

Helen was working for a primary care trust at the time, but had taken up a volunteer role as an "Independent Visitor" in her spare time because she was keen to support young people living in her community.

Since Katie and Helen first met they have spent time with each other regularly once month enjoying different activities over the years, including playing games in the park, having picnics together, going to a local carnival, visiting the theatre and even canoeing on an activity day with the IV scheme.  They have got to know each other really well.

Katie has now left care but is still living with her foster mum, as part of her "Shared Lives" family.*

This month she celebrates her 21st birthday and will be leaving the IV scheme, but she has chosen to keep in touch with Helen and they have both decided they will carry on meeting just as before - this time as a normal part of their day-to-day lives. 

If you are interested in knowing more about becoming an Independent Visitor please contact

Sheila.lupton@wiltshire.gov.uk  or call 07733 303124

More information can also be found at https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/children-young-people-independent-visitor-scheme

-ends-

 

Notes to editors:

Left to right in photo: Katie and Helen two years after they first met.

Second picture Katie and Helen today.

For more information please contact the Wiltshire Council communications team on 01225 713370.

For more information on fostering at Wiltshire Council and the types of fostering available please go to https://fosteringwiltshire.uk/

*Shared Lives helps people live as part of a family, within the carers home, where they receive the support or care that they need.

For more information on Shared Lives please visit https://adults.wiltshire.gov.uk/Services/1366

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Published 22 October 2020