• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Volunteers sought to befriend and support children and young people living in care


Nepacs charity has an exciting opportunity for anyone with a few hours to spare each month, interested in giving their time to support local children and young people who are living in care.

The Independent Visitor service is a befriending scheme for children and young people between the ages of 8 and 17 years old. Provided by volunteers, the service is designed to offer each child the chance to build a trusted friendship with someone outside of their day-to-day life.

Each volunteer meets up with the young person once a month, over a period of time, doing things they enjoy together, such as going for a bike ride, watching football or sharing a cuppa and chat. Most visits naturally take place at weekends, evenings or in school holidays when children are free.

Independent visitors are not professional care workers. They are adult volunteers, from all walks of life, who can spare an hour or so each month to spend time with a child or young person, listening to what’s going on in their life and offering support and friendship.

Each relationship between a volunteer and a young person is a unique and important one. Working with both the volunteer and the child or young person, Nepacs takes time to carefully match them together based on common interests and those who they think would be a good fit. All volunteers also receive full training and on-going support from the Nepacs team.

One of our Independent visitor volunteers told us that: “I was matched with a lovely young man whom I met recently. I look forward to working with him and showing him what life has to offer, provide some fun and friendship.

“If there is a child in care who needs our help, being an independent visitor is a really rewarding way to provide support and give the young person something to look forward to each month.”

Angela Donaghy, from the Nepacs independent visitor service, said: “An Independent Visitor is an adult volunteer who provides support and friendship to a child or young person ‘looked after’ by the local authority. This involves establishing a long term supportive relationship where the young person will have the opportunity to develop their interests, learn new skills and build their self-esteem.

“We are looking to recruit volunteers to support young people who are under Local Authority care in South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, Sunderland or County Durham, but also maybe placed out of their local authority area.

“You do not need any special qualifications, but we are looking for dedicated people of all ages who are comfortable with befriending and being a good role model for a child or young person who may have experienced difficult times during their childhood. We ask that you are able to commit to a few hours once per month for a minimum of 12 months. Children in care need that sort of continuity and ideally the relationship becomes a genuine friendship that will continue informally after the young person leaves care at the age of 18.”

Amanda Lacey, chief executive of Nepacs added: “We are delighted to be awarded the contract to provide volunteer independent visitor services in six local authority areas of the north east. We have huge aspirations for this service as we can see the difference it can make to the lives of children and young people living in care, who have often experienced trauma and a lack of consistent adult relationships. Our independent visitor volunteers visit and befriend a child or young person living in care, and may be the one constant adult they have in their life.

“It is an amazing opportunity for people who want to give some of their time to volunteer. It is a privilege to become a part of a young person’s life, building a relationship, sharing common interests and basically having fun together. In turn creating happy memories for both the volunteer and young person, which is an opportunity not everyone has.”

To find out the difference you can make as an Independent Visitor watch Max’s story on the Nepacs YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/oDSEMi8qXwo

More information on the Nepacs’ independent visitor service, including how to volunteer, can be found on the Nepacs website: www.nepacs.co.uk or email www.nepacs.co.ukIV@nepacs.co.uk .