What is The Right Friend Campaign?
Established by the National Independent Visitor Network, The Right Friend campaign champions every care experienced child’s right to an Independent Visitor (IV).
For many young people in care, their lives lack stability. Due to the frequent changes of living arrangements, making new friends, new schools, new environments, and a revolving door of supporting adults.
As a result, many care experienced young people enter adulthood alone. Independent Visitor schemes help to tackle this problem by providing a reliable adult influence for children in care. Often, independent visitors are the only adults in these children’s lives who are not paid to spend time with them.
An Independent Visitor is a trained volunteer who is uniquely placed to provide care experienced children and young people with emotional support and stability. Independent Volunteer schemes are often crucial to the personal development of young people in care. As a result, this campaign aims to ensure every child in care has access to an IV.
Challenges of COVID-19
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, children in care have faced a host of new challenges.
Calls to helplines have risen sharply, and social distancing has often removed children’s access to friends, teachers and trusted adults. In addition, emergency legislation threatens to dilute essential safeguards that protect the rights of care experienced children and young people.
As a result, independent visitor schemes have been a reliable source of friendship and comfort for care experienced children across the UK.
Independent Visitors (IVs) 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. IVs offer the chance for children to build a trusting, positive relationship with them over time, and are often the only adults in a child’s life who are not paid to spend time with them.
Independent Visitor Schemes Can Make a Difference
This global crisis has highlighted how crucial The Right Friend Campaign is. This campaign works to protect and promote the voice and well-being of care experienced children and young people.
We are campaigning, as part of the National Independent Visitor Network (NIVN), for:
- All local authorities in England that currently have no Independent Visitor Scheme to take immediate action to meet their legal obligations.
- At least 10% of looked after children per local authority in England to be matched with an Independent Visitor by 2022.
- Ofsted inspectors must assess Independent Visitor schemes against the National Standards. This should ensure that children and young people have access to consistently high-quality Independent Visitors.
- A statutory extension of Independent Visitor services care leavers up to the age of 25. This would reduce social isolation and build a positive pathway to independent adulthood. By providing a reliable and consistent adult friend during this difficult transition, this amendment could help to reduce youth homelessness amongst care experienced young people.