Could you be a friend for a child in care?

NYAS

More volunteers are needed by a Nottingham service that offers friendship and support for children in care.

The Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Independent Visitor Service finds a ‘befriender’ for children who don’t have family contact. The friend supports them and takes part in activities with the young person.

The service is run by the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), which is a national children’s charity working with Nottingham City Council to speak on behalf of the city’s children in care.

‘Independent Visitors’ are asked to commit a few hours a month for a minimum of two years to take part in activities with their matched young person. Volunteers can be anyone interested in helping out with children and young people. No qualifications are needed as all the training and support for the role is provided.

This service offers children in care access to independent adults who can support them if they have worries about their care. This is an important part of the system as it ensures children in care have access to supportive adults not involved in their day to day care. This provides them with a friend who can listen to them and help them if they feel they are not being listened to.

Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years, said: “Our children and young people in care really value the fact that these volunteers are giving up their time to enjoy a fun activity or visit with them. Our children have asked volunteers to take them to the cinema, bowling, canoeing, visit museums, cycling, as well as bigger activities such as Christmas pantomimes.

“This role enables Visitors to have fun, offer children support and increase their confidence and self-esteem. It is important that we ensure that children in care have safe independent adults they can take worries to, who will speak up for them and take an interest.”

As part of the training people can gain an Independent Visitor qualification, which is accredited by the Open College network and is equivalent to an NVQ level 3. They will need to visit their young person once a month in the evenings, weekends or in the school holidays. There’s also an activity allowance to help with the visit.

Volunteers will go through Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and reference checks as part of the application process.

If you are interested in volunteering as an Independent Visitor please contact Heather Walker on 0115 9721868 or 07436 799041 or e-mail Heather.walker@nyas.net. You can also visit their office at NYAS, The Mohan Business Centre, Tamworth Road, Long Eaton Nottinghamshire NG10 1BE.

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