Daniel, a young care-experienced teen supported by an Independent Visitor (IV) from NYAS, is to feature alongside Joe Swash in a new documentary about young people living in a failing care system.

Actor Joe Swash standing in front of a grey background

After the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England was launched in  2021, Joe was keen to meet the young people who are experiencing life in care. He also hears from the staff and volunteers who support these young people, who work hard to make a positive difference in their lives.

The prime-time documentary follows Joe as he learns about the stories and experiences of teenagers living in care in England, giving a voice to this often-unheard generation of young people. On his journey to connect with those in care, Joe meets Daniel.

Daniel is supported by an Independent Visitor from NYAS, and lived in three different children’s homes as he grew up in care. Although Daniel’s IV provides him with support, the basic scaffolding is not there for teens in care, and he is struggling to cope with this.

Ruth is Daniel’s IV, a role which offers a consistent and committed figure for those in care. Adults often come and go from the lives of care-experienced children and young people, so an Independent Visitor volunteers to spend time with an individual on a regular basis. 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.

NYAS’s The Right Friend campaign was launched with the National Independent Visitor Network  to champion the rights of all care-experienced young people to having an Independent Visitor in England. Under the Children Act 1989, care-experienced young people have a statutory entitlement to an Independent Visitor if it is in their best interest. But currently, only 3% of all care-experienced young people in England are being matched with an IV. When a child leaves care at the age of 18, they also can no longer access IV services.

The Right Friend campaign is calling on the Government to increase the number of care-experienced young people being matched with an IV and extend current entitlements up to the age of 25. Extending this entitlement would promote long-term loving relationships for care leavers and supports the Government’s wider objective of making sure all children leave care with two loving relationships by 2027.

The care system is familiar to I’m A Celebrity winner Joe Swash, as his mother Kiffy is an experienced foster carer. Joe’s 18-year-old foster brother, also named Daniel, has been under Kiffy’s care for 10 years, and thanks to the support of Joe and his family, is thriving and has been accepted into university.

But this happy ending is not seen often for many in care.

The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England, carried out by Josh McAllister from 2021-22, showed a poor trajectory for the care system over the next ten years. The cost to reset this far outweighs what the government is willing to pay.

The Government also did not make any commitments to extend IV services up to the age of 25, and NYAS believes this was a missed opportunity to promote loving and stable relationships for care leavers. NYAS is continuing to call on the Government to extend current IV entitlements up to the age of 25.

Joe said: “The independent review suggests that if we put in £2.6 billion worth of investment now it will completely transform the care system and that will save us billions down the line.

“But the Government has looked at it and said they’re putting in £200 million.

“It is frustrating. I do wish that everyone could just bang their heads together and realise this is an issue that needs to be looked at quickly and it is a very important cause.”


Joe Swash: Teens in Care will air on BBC One on Tuesday 11th at 9pm. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.