What is the Role of an Independent Visitor?

Our Independent Visitors (IVs) are trained adult volunteers who provide children and young people in care with long lasting friendship and support. Access to independent visiting sessions is a statutory entitlement for children and young people who are living with a foster family or in residential care. They complement the vital role of social workers and carers in contributing to and promoting the young person’s developmental, social, emotional and cultural needs – they listen to how a young person is feeling.

The volunteers are not paid, they choose to take on the role because they want to. They are separate from social services, all other agencies and are there just for the young person. This enables the young person to develop social skills and the ability to work at long-term relationships. It also helps build their self-esteem, giving them confidence to try new hobbies, take on board new ideas and learn from other people’s more settled lives.

An Independent Visitor is not intended to be a substitute parent or carer or to take on the role of a skilled advocate in complex situations.

How Does the Independent Visitor Scheme Work?

  • Visiting times and activities are chosen by the young person in agreement with their volunteer who will make arrangements directly with the young person and carers.
  • Independent visitors need to be consistent and reliable so that children can build a trusting, positive relationship with them over time. For this reason, we ask all our volunteers to visit the young person at least once a month and commit to a minimum of one year in this role.
  • All of our volunteers are carefully recruited and fully trained in advance of their appointment. They are supervised by a regional NYAS coordinator and given a small budget for appropriate activities.
  • The service provided is confidential, unless there is a concern about the young person or someone else's safety.
  • The child or young person should be involved in deciding what information is made available to the independent visitor and ideally matched with someone who shares similar interests.
  • Independent visitors have no right to inspect a child's file however, but no information should be withheld if it places the child/young person or visitor at risk
  • Independent visitors can continue their relationship with the young person for as long as the young person consents, up until aged 18.

What is the Independent Visitor Referral Process?

The Independent Visitor Service is part of NYAS' Volunteer-Based Service Team (VBS).

To find out more about the Independent Visitor Service, including how to refer, please complete our online referral form or contact our NYAS helpline. Our team will then be able to help and advise you.

Not Sure What Help You Need?

If you want to learn more about being an independent visitor, just get in touch. Our friendly volunteering team will be happy to advise you.

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