Sefton’s Independent Visiting & Advocacy Service plays a vital role in supporting Sefton’s children and young people who are looked after.
This Volunteers’ Week, the project’s coordinator has been telling us about the project:
My name is Cheryl Yates, I co-ordinate the Independent Visiting and Advocacy Service for Children and Young people in Sefton (SEFTON VIVA).
Our Independent Visitor Service gives young people, who are looked after, the opportunity to build a meaningful, trusted relationship with an adult outside of the care system. Our volunteer Independent Visitors meet the young person once a month to do activities in the community which could be playing football, going to the cinema, shopping or chatting over a coffee.
Our Advocacy Service supports young people with any issues they may be experiencing. Our volunteer advocates help young people to have their voice heard in decisions that are being made about them, they can inform the young person of their rights and help them to question anything they don’t understand.
Volunteers are vital to our service and we could not meet our commitment to young people without their support. It is important young people have somebody independent of social care; it really makes a difference to them knowing that their Independent Visitor or Advocate is a volunteer who is there because they want to be.
The majority of our work is delivered face to face. With the recent government guidelines around social distancing we have had to rapidly change the way we work to ensure young people are still supported through what our very difficult and worrying times for them. The closure of schools and colleges and not being able to see friend and family has caused a lot of anxiety for young people. Our volunteers have been creative in finding other ways they can keep in touch, some have used technology to video call, whilst others have returned to ‘old school’ and become pen pals with their young person, it is whatever works for the individual relationship.
I would like to use Volunteers Week as an opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to our fantastic volunteers for their commitment and enthusiasm to supporting the young people they work with, not only now during this difficult time, but throughout the year too!
The work we do really makes a difference to the lives of children and young people in care but our volunteers also gain a huge amount through volunteering with us. Being an Independent Visitor or Advocate is about offering these young people support, a listening ear and having some fun along the way!
Here is what one of our volunteers said about being an Independent Visitor:
Being an independent visitor has really enriched my life, it gives me an opportunity to help a young person and have a positive impact on someone’s life. Spending time with a young person has helped me experience things , learn and grow and seeing them benefit is really rewarding. I would highly recommend being an independent visitor and giving a young person a helping hand.
Lisa Independent Visitor since 2018
If you are interested in volunteering with us, please get in touch: Cheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel: 0151 9344167