Could you be there for a child in care?

Leeds Independent Visitor Scheme
An Independent Visitor (IV) is a volunteer who befriends and visits a child or young person living in the care of the local authority.

People who have volunteered to be role models for children in care, over the past 25 years, are being celebrated at a special event later this month.

The Leeds Independent Visitor scheme, which is run by Leeds City Council, is 25 years old this year and to mark the occasion a celebration event is being held to thank the people who have volunteered for the scheme over the years.

Media opportunity

When: Monday 20th November at 7.30pm

Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel

Members of the media are invited to attend the Leeds Independent Visitor Scheme 25th anniversary celebration event. Volunteers, past and present, will be joined by The Lord Mayor Cllr Jane Dowson, executive member for children and families Cllr Lisa Mulherin and director Steve Walker, to celebrate the scheme and look back at its history, as well as presenting awards to volunteers.

Despite the success of the scheme over the past quarter century there are currently children and young people who are in foster care or residential homes, who are waiting for someone who can be a friend, a role model and a trusted adviser.

At the moment, there is a shortage of male volunteers with the Leeds Independent Visitors Scheme so there are a number of children in care who are missing out on the support an Independent Visitor can bring.

Whilst the council is appealing for more people from all backgrounds to volunteer, in particular more men and volunteers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are needed to join the scheme.

As someone outside the care system, the independent visitor can offer an alternative perspective on life, providing young people with friendship and guidance – as well as fun trips to the cinema, the countryside, sports events and restaurants. It is important that the young people are able to identify with their independent visitor therefore they need to be matched to someone with a similar heritage, who can offer cultural experiences relevant to their background.

Independent visitors meet with the young person they are matched with once a month on an evening or weekend for a couple of hours each time. Taking part in the Leeds Independent Visitor scheme might mean going for a kick-about, watching the rugby, or seeing a movie.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families said:

“This event is a great opportunity for us to thank and recognise those people who have taken time out of their lives to make a difference for children in care.

“All children and young people need a positive adult role model, someone who takes an interested in their welfare and progress, someone who is there just for them, who can give them support and advice, and encourage them to reach their full potential. This is why independent visitors for children and young people in care are so important.

“Young boys in care have often not had the opportunity to form positive relationships with adult males which is why it is so important that we recruit more men from all backgrounds to become independent visitors.”

Volunteers must be over 21 and able to relate well to children and young people and have a genuine interest in their wellbeing. Training and ongoing support is provided and the role involves giving a few hours a month for a minimum of two years.

For more information about the scheme and how to get involved people can visit: Leeds Independent Visitors Scheme or follow: @LeedsIVscheme