The role of an independent visitor for children and young people in care was introduced as a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide 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, if they feel it would be in the child’s best interests.
We're looking to recruit new enthusiastic and committed volunteers who are looking for a long term voluntary opportunity to become a trusted adult and role model for looked after young people. Volunteering with us is a flexible, exciting and rewarding opportunity that fits around your lifestyle and other commitments where you'll make a positive difference to the life of a vulnerable young person, contributing to their development and confidence.
Independent visitors are hugely valued by the young people as 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 establishing 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 new things that the young person wants to do.
The role involves:
- Establishing a long-term, consistent and supportive relationship with a child or young person (between eight and 25 years old) looked after by us. Helping to motivate them, develop their social skills, make 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 that are led by the young person, dependent on their interests.
- To work in partnership with us while maintaining the independence necessary to this role, promoting the child or young person’s social and emotional development.
- Willingness to undertake any training relevant to the role and 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 opportunity 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 to try and make sure you have similar interests and will likely be a good match.
This is reviewed regularly by the independent visitor coordinator and if the relationship is 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 volunteering as an independent visitor for a minimum of one year. However, many independent visitors and young people develop a strong friendship that 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 circumstances and 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 as full training and support is provided at the beginning and throughout your involvement with the service. Applications are welcome from anyone over the age of 21 who has a genuine interest in the development and welfare of children.
For this volunteer position you must:
- be over 21 years of age
- be able to work independently 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 understanding of the challenges for looked after children or young people
- have the ability to deal with sensitive, confidential and potentially distressing information
- be sensitive to the needs and wishes of the child or young person
What training and support will I receive?
Independent visitors will be required to complete a thorough induction and training process and will receive on-going support to give them the skills and knowledge to confidently fulfil their role.
Volunteer expenses will be reimbursed for mileage and the costs of activities undertaken with the child or young person up to £30 per visit.
How to apply
If you'd like to volunteer, even up to a few hours a month, email Barnsley Independent Visitors Service.
You can also register your interest and read more about this opportunity on the Barnsley CVS website by selecting 'befriending / mentoring' under the area of interest.
The scheme operates under safer recruitment practices and all volunteers will be expected to undergo an enhanced check with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).