Report reveals positive response to the Wiltshire Independent Visitor Scheme
Wiltshire has been highlighted twice in a national report which charts the success of a scheme which recruits volunteers to have a positive impact in a young person's life.
Wiltshire Council runs an Independent Visitor provision which recruits trained volunteers to form a friendly and well-trusted relationship with a looked after child or young adult. The aim of this is to provide the young person with a positive role model who can provide support.
The National Independent Data Report 2022 has published new results conveying the extent of Independent Visitor (IV) provision.
The data report refers to findings from the National Independent Visitor Network (NIVN), which was set up in 2014 to increase understanding of IV services and highlight their advantages. Wiltshire Council was one of 146 out of 152 local authorities to respond to the NIVN's Freedom of Information (FOI) investigation.
The report states that, in England, approximately 76 local authorities offered IVs to young people over the age of 18. This includes Wiltshire Council, which funds IV matches of those up to 25-years-old.
The data report contains quotes two examples from Wiltshire Council, including a case study detailing the positive impact an IV has made to a young man in the local area.
Sayed, an unaccompanied asylum seeker, fled Afghanistan aged 13 and was placed in foster care with a Wiltshire family. He was matched with an IV, Paul, who bonded with him over a shared love of sport. Paul and Sayed attended an event at no 10 Downing Street, celebrating mentoring relationships. Sayed left the scheme at 21 but has continued his friendship with Paul.
The data report quotes Wiltshire Council in another example:
In October Katie will be 21 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.
They have known each other for 11 years and have become really good friends. They can't imagine a time when they haven't known each other!
Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services said:
We have some wonderful examples of how our Independent Visitor Scheme has made a lasting impact on young people's lives. We have more than 400 young people in care in Wiltshire and so we always need more volunteers, particularly male volunteers and those who are care experienced themselves to come forward.
We ask them to consider giving two to three hours of their time once a month and help with this empowering and valuable work.
People who would like to know more about the IV scheme can email IVScheme@wiltshire.gov.uk or go to the Wiltshire Council website for more information.