-National children’s charity NYAS calls for 300 volunteers as part of National Volunteers Week

The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), a children’s charity which provides advocacy to thousands of children and young people in care, has revealed that a national shortage of independent visitors is denying young people the chance to develop ‘confidence and self-belief’.

NYAS delivers the Independent Visitors Programme in partnership with local authorities across England and Wales.

Independent visitors are volunteers who are often the only unpaid person in a child in care’s life and give their time to befriend children and young people who are particularly vulnerable.  NYAS independent visitors are particularly important to children who are in care away from their home area – with little or no contact with friends and family.

Acting as a role model, providing fun opportunities and helping to create positive and confident futures for them, independent visitors offer much-needed stability and help to develop valuable life skills.

Under the Children and Young Persons Act 2008, local authorities have a duty to offer independent visitors to child or young person if it is in the best interest of the child. However, a shortage of volunteers across England and Wales means that many children are waiting months and in some cases even years, to be matched with a visitor.

The charity estimates that more than 300 volunteers are needed across the country to meet the current requests from children and young people.

Rita Waters, chief executive of NYAS said: “We know from firsthand experience just how transformative an independent visitor can be on a young person’s life but we’re in dire need of many more volunteers if we’re to give those in care the best possible futures.

“Our visitors take their young people on day’s out, encourage them to try new things and help them to express their wishes and feelings.   For children and young people surrounded by paid professionals, knowing that someone is taking an interest in them for who they are and because they choose to, is hugely important for their self-worth and confidence.

“We work with councils and local authorities across the UK, many of which have children and young people for whom an independent visitor would make a very real and positive difference and they need those volunteers now.  If you’re keen to make a difference to a young person’s life please get in touch now via our website www.nyas.net.”

The NYAS Independent Visitor Programme provides excellent and comprehensive training to all volunteers.

For more information about NYAS’ independent visitor programme visit:  https://www.nyas.net/services/independent-visitors/