Toggle menu

Independent visitor scheme

Independent visitors (IVs) are adult volunteers who provide independent, one-to-one befriending support to children in care. Their role is to "visit, advise and befriend" the young person with whom they are matched.

The 1989 Children Act made it a duty for Local Authorities to provide IVs for those young people living in care who have little or no contact from their parents or family. In 2008, the Children and Young Person's Act extended this duty so that any young person in care could be eligible to have an IV, if considered to be in their best interests.

A short animation has been made by care-experienced young people, explaining their right to have an independent visitor:

YouTube: Independent Visitor 'Our Legal Right' (opens new window)

Benefits of an independent visitor for a young person in care

Young people in care can often experience disruption in their lives. An IV is a trusted adult from outside the care system who can offer consistent, long-term support throughout the time a young person is in care.

Young people are matched with IVs on the basis of their interests and needs. Once an IV is appointed, they can be expected to visit and spend quality time with the young person with whom they are matched, approximately once every three to four weeks. IV support can continue for as long as a young person receives care or care leaver support from Wiltshire Council.

Watch a video explaining what IVs are all about: YouTube: My Right Friend (opens new window).

How young people in care can access the independent visitor service

If you are a young person in the care of Wiltshire Council, or you know someone placed in care by Wiltshire who might benefit from this service, please talk with the social worker who is involved. You can also get in touch with the scheme manager to find out more by emailing (opens new window).

How to volunteer as an independent visitor

If you are interested in volunteering and want to join our team of IVs, please email the scheme manager using (opens new window). You will be sent an information pack and registration form.

No formal qualifications are required to become an IV, although potential volunteers must meet the person specification and role description requirements for the role. All volunteers are carefully selected in line with safer recruitment policy and are required to obtain clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.

If you are successful in being appointed as an IV, you will be joining a committed team of volunteers who have the opportunity to meet up together on a regular basis. You will also benefit from:

  • the opportunity to develop new skills
  • training and ongoing support
  • the satisfaction of making a significant contribution to the lives of looked after young people
  • mileage and out of pocket expenses

Hear what one of our volunteers has to say about being an IV: YouTube: Independent Visitor volunteer Q&A (opens new window).

Further information about independent visitors

See our information leaflets for young people, volunteers, carers, and parents:

  • information for young people [link to new page]
  • information for volunteers [link to page]
  • information for carers [link to page]
  • information for parents [link to page]

Wiltshire IV scheme is a member of the National Independent Visitor Network (NIVN) which brings together all IV schemes in England and Wales. NIVN  has its own website which is full of  information and useful links: National Independent Visitor Network ( (opens new window)

Wiltshire Council has signed up to the National Standards for the Provision of Independent Visitor Services ( (opens new window).

Why I became an independent visitor

Personal stories from our volunteers

Share this page

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email