“Having an Independent Visitor has been the only stable thing in my life recently.”

Covid-19 places the most vulnerable children and young people in society at high risk of harm and is a significant challenge to Children’s Services across the country. Calls to helplines have risen sharply; social distancing has removed children’s access to friends, teachers and trusted adults and emergency legislation threatens to dilute essential safeguards that protect the rights of care-experienced children and young people.

Independent Visitors are continuing to stay in contact with children and young people, listening to them and providing vital care and stability to those who feel lonely, isolated and anxious. The global crisis highlights more than ever the need for The Right Friend Campaign to protect and promote the voice and well-being of care-experienced children and young people.

An Independent Visitor (IV) is a trained volunteer who is uniquely placed to provide care-experienced children and young people with emotional support and stability. IVs offer the chance for children to build a “trusting, positive relationship with them over time”.

We are campaigning, as part of the National Independent Visitor Network (NIVN), for:

1. All local authorities in England that currently have no Independent Visitor Service must take immediate action to meet their legal obligations.

2. At least 10% of looked after children per local authority in England must be matched with an Independent Visitor by 2022.

3. Ofsted inspectors must assess Independent Visitor services against the National Standards, to ensure children and young people have access to consistently high quality Independent Visitors.

4. To make available to care leavers up to the age of 25 a statutory extension of Independent Visitor services, to reduce social isolation and build a positive pathway to independent adulthood.

Read the full details of the Right Friend Campaign report

Watch the ‘Independent Visitors – Our Legal Right’ Animation video below from the National IV network

The film was produced by a group of eighteen care-experienced young people over a series of six workshops. These young people worked alongside cartoonist James Parsons, from Crazy Comic Club and Silverbox Films, to learn new cartooning skills, showcase their creative talent and produce what they feel is a really engaging film that draws on their personal experiences of having an Independent Visitor and reflects the uniqueness of the IV relationship.