“It’s someone who is there for you, someone to help with problems and advice. It’s someone to talk to and I don’t feel lonely anymore like I used to. It gets me out too which is good or else I will just be stuck in my room being lonely.”
Independent Visitors (IV) are volunteers who befriend and spend time with a child or young person who is in the care of the Local Authority. All local authorities have a statutory duty to provide an Independent Visitor’s service in accordance with the Children Act 1989 and the Children and Young Persons Act (2008).
A child or young person in care has a right to an IV if they have little or no family contact or it is in their best interests. If a child wishes to have an IV it is difficult to imagine how it would not be in their best interests. The question of whether or not an IV is appointed should be addressed at every child’s review meeting.
The IV and young person undertake a variety of activities together, depending on their interests and the age of the young person. This can range from going for a coffee and chat, visiting the theatre or football match to exploring new opportunities, skills, hobbies and experiences. It is recognised that such activities are fundamental in helping to build resilience and life skills. It is also important for children are looked after to take part in life outside of the care system. IVs can also attend a young person’s review meeting as long as the young person agrees with this.
In Somerset our intention is to enable the relationship between the IV and young person to continue beyond care so that care leavers continue to benefit from the support of an independent person while making the transition to young adulthood.
Independent Visitors are highly valued by the young people as they may be the only person involved in their lives who is not paid to be there.
Email us at Route1IndependentVisitors@somerset.gov.uk to find out more.