Volunteers needed: Could you spare time to help young people in care and share their hobbies and interests?
Across Northumberland there are currently 13 young people in care – either in care homes or foster homes – who are waiting for an independent visitor to share their passions and interests.
They might want to go walking with a dog on the beach or spending time outdoors. They may be fascinated by fashion and make-up, love gaming, playing football or watching sport. They might want someone to go shopping with them, take them to the cinema or out for a meal, help them with their studies or fancy an afternoon fishing. Some are looking for someone to go to the gym with, do arts and crafts with, share a love of books with or just someone to talk to and have a conversation with.
If you think you could befriend a young person, then the charity Nepacs wants to hear from you.
Nepacs is an organisation which works across Northumberland matching adult volunteers to young people aged between eight and 18 who are living in the care system and in need of a stable friendship.
It is currently seeking volunteers to come forward – with a range of hobbies and interests – so that they can match them with a number of young people in care who are looking for someone to visit them regularly as an ‘Independent Visitor’. Your time – it could just be a few hours a month – could make the world of difference to that person’s life, and you would be helping bring some fun and relaxation to them at one of the most challenging times of their life.
You would be supporting people like Simon, who is 15 and lives with a foster carer in Ashington. He likes outdoor activities such as walking and cycling. He would like to have the opportunity to explore more community based activities with a fun and friendly adult… but unfortunately as yet, a volunteer with similar interests has not come forward to be his Independent Visitor.
What the young people said
Here’s what some of the young people in care said about the benefits of them having an Independent Visitor.
‘If you have the same interests it is very good, it is hard to find people with same interests and time, and I would really recommend the service to others’
‘She is kind. She listens to me. She always turns up when she says she will. Brings me treats sometimes’
What some of the Independent Visitor volunteers said
‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as an independent visitor. The family have been really supportive of the scheme and myself as an individual. I am honoured to have spent the last two years getting to know my young person.’
An Independent Visitor is a volunteer who visits, befriends and provides support to a young person who may be living in a children’s home or with a foster family. Young people are usually aged between 8 and 18 years
Before applying, all volunteers would have a chat with Nepacs and give them some details – you have to be 18 or over to volunteer. You don’t have to have had your own children, or even have experience of working with young people – just be willing to give up your time to share your hobbies and interests with them.
Once all the necessary paperwork is done – including DBS checks – all Independent Visitor Volunteers are given training with Nepacs to help them and then the charity will look for a match and make the introductions.
Nepacs ask people to volunteer for a minimum of a year – so that they have chance to build a stable relationship with the young person they are assigned to. And they are asked to commit to visiting them for a couple of hours once a month as a minimum.
Some expenses can be paid too – including travel costs - so you needn’t be out of pocket.