The role of an independent visitor for children and young people in care was introduced as a statutory requirement. Local authorities provide this in line with in the Children Act 1989. The act states that a local authority has to appoint an independent visitor for any child they're looking after. This is if they feel it would be in the child’s best interests.
We're looking to recruit new committed volunteers. People who are looking for a long term voluntary role may be interested. It involves becoming a trusted adult and role model for looked after young people. Volunteering with us is a flexible, exciting and rewarding role. It can fit around your lifestyle and other commitments. You'll make a positive difference to the life of a vulnerable young person. Helping to contribute to their development and confidence.
Independent visitors are hugely valued by the young people. They're often the only person involved in their lives that are not paid to be there.
What does an independent visitor do?
As an independent visitor, after being matched with a child or young person, you'll visit them on a regular basis with the aim of giving a consistent, positive adult child relationship. This one to one relationship can involve anything from football in the park to seeing the latest films. Or maybe new things that the young person wants to do.
The role involves:
- Starting a long term, consistent and supportive relationship. This will be with a child or young person (8 to 25 years) looked after by us. Helping to motivate them, develop their social skills. Making sure they feel valued and encourage them to reach their full potential.
- To meet regularly with the child or young person on a monthly basis offering friendship, support and advice. Visiting them and taking part in positive activities and outings. These are led by the young person, dependent on their interests.
- To work in partnership with us while maintaining the working alone necessary to this role. Promoting the child or young person’s social and emotional development.
- Willingness to undertake any training relevant to the role. A commitment to safeguard and protect children and young people at all time.
- Contribute to the child or young person’s Looked After Child review if requested.
- To have fun together.
How old will the child be that I am matched with?
Children and young people will usually be aged from eight upwards. You'll have the chance to tell us if you'd like to volunteer with a particular age group.
What if we don't get along?
Matches in the first instance are carefully considered by both the child or young person and the volunteer. This is to try and make sure you have similar interests and will likely be a good match.
This is reviewed regularly by the independent visitor planner. If it's not working then we'll look to match you with someone else.
How long do you want me to volunteer for?
You'll be asked to make a commitment to volunteer as an independent visitor for a minimum of one year. However, many independent visitors and young people develop a strong friendship. This can last beyond the young person reaching 25 at which point it becomes a private arrangement.
Matches can last up to 10 years in the most successful cases. It will support a young person through key transition points in their life.
What experience or qualifications do I need?
Experience of working with children and young people would be helpful but is not essential. Full training and support is provided at the beginning and throughout your involvement with the service. Anyone 21 or over can apply. People who has a genuine interest in the growth and welfare of children.
For this volunteer position you must:
- be over 21 years of age
- be able to work alone and use your own initiative
- be able to communicate effectively with children and young people
- be a good listener
- be reliable and punctual
- have the ability to receive and accept support and guidance
- be able to provide a long-term commitment by 'just being there'
- commit to promoting the safety and welfare of young people
- have an idea of the challenges for looked after children or young people
- have the ability to deal with sensitive, private and potentially distressing information
- be sensitive to the needs and wishes of the child or young person
What training and support will I receive?
You'll be required to complete a thorough induction and training process. You'll receive on going support to give you the skills and knowledge to fulfil their role.
Volunteer expenses will be reimbursed up to £30 per visit. This is for mileage and the costs of activities undertaken with the child or young person.
How to apply
If you'd like to volunteer, even up to a few hours a month, email Barnsley Independent Visitors Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also register your interest and read more about the role. Details are on the Barnsley CVS website by selecting 'befriending / mentoring' under the area of interest.
The scheme operates under safer recruitment practices. All volunteers will be expected to undergo an enhanced check with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).