Due to COVID-19, we are maintaining connection and care for our looked after young people through independent visitors staying in touch by phone and video. Once restrictions on meeting change and we can safely and sensibly meet, our visitors will again be meeting up to help our looked after young people feel connected, cared for and to be able to learn what healthy friendships are.
Independent visitors are volunteers who befriend and support children and young people aged up to 18 who are looked after by the local authority. All looked after children should, by law, be offered the chance to have an independent visitor.
An independent visitor can be life changing for a young person in care, being a consistent and supportive person in their life, helping them learn to trust, have fun and grow. We're always looking for new volunteers so why not apply today.
Who can volunteer
Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are welcome.
We are particularly keen to recruit male volunteers and people from BAME communities. You do not need any specific qualifications, experience or background to be an independent visitor.
What an independent visitor does
Independent visitors can make a real difference to a young person by sharing a hobby, sport or interest. They can help with school or college work or help a young person learn about their own or other people's culture.
They meet regularly with a young person to do activities together, talk, be supportive and have fun.
How long you need to commit to the role
Independent visitors meet their young person every 2 to 3 weeks for a few hours. We ask for volunteers to commit to a young person for a minimum of 18 months.
In some cases volunteers have carried on visiting a young person for many years and their relationship has continued until the young person leaves the care system and beyond.
At other times, the relationship comes to a natural end as the young person grows older, or the circumstances of the volunteer or young person may change.
How we support you
All independent visitors have regular one to one and group support including reviews of the volunteer role.
Once matched, you will be assigned a volunteer co-ordinator who will support you with any questions or concerns you may have on an ongoing basis. We will also support you to access further training to help in your IV role.
Matching you with a young person
We will take your needs and views into account when matching you to the child or young person. Some young people are placed a long way out of Croydon, for example in Kent or Sussex, which can be isolating.
For these young people, it can make a huge difference for a volunteer to be prepared to travel out to see them, or to video call.
The young people in care
All young people waiting for an independent visitor are looked after by the local authority. They will be facing difficulties and situations which may be hard for us to comprehend. This means you will need to be respectful, caring, patient, encouraging and understanding.
Most of the young people independent visitors may work with are in foster care, or semi independent living, although some are in residential care settings.
Training, references and background checks
You will need to complete the independent visitor training before being approved as a volunteer. We will also ask for references and conduct background checks.
Find out more about our independent volunteer application and training process.
We pay volunteers allowances for agreed activities and transport costs. No volunteer should be out of pocket for anything they do as part of their role as an independent visitor.