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'being an independent visitor'; an IV from our East Sussex service on their experience

asphaleia currently delivers the Independent Visiting and Advocacy services for East Sussex County Council.

Independent Visitors (IV's) are trained volunteers that visit children and young people who are looked after by East Sussex County Council on a monthly basis. They offer the support and friendship of a trusted adult, a monthly visit involving fun activities away from their placement and are someone the child can talk to about their worries. The IV is someone ‘totally independent’ in their life, distinct from the professionals who support them. It makes a real difference to a young person to know they have someone who is on their side, who has chosen to be there for them.

In this post, you can find out what it's like to be an IV directly from one of our volunteers.

what is it like to be an Independent Visitor?

Being an Independent Visitor seems to be a huge thing and a very manageable thing, at the same time.

Huge because it was initially right out of my comfort zone (it doesn’t feel that way now), and it feels like the most purposeful and rewarding thing I do (even though I have a busy and interesting life!)

Very manageable because – even though it’s definitely better for the YP if you are ‘in it for the long run’ – it only takes a few hours a month, and I feel well supported by asphaleia so I'm never alone in it.

I feel really lucky with my YP – we have a good relationship (and plenty of laughs) and her foster parents are brilliant. She has pretty much always behaved well with me and I have had feedback that her behaviour at school has improved recently.

She is really enjoying the praise she’s getting. Perhaps I have played a small part in that, who knows…her foster mother has graciously said that I have!

Being an IV has added a whole other dimension to my life – I have learnt about an aspect of society (children in care) I knew very little about and have met some amazing people I wouldn’t have got to know otherwise.

Even though my experience has been overwhelmingly positive so far, it’s great to know that asphaleia are there at all times if needed.

I really do think being an IV is a ‘win-win’.

a photo of a young man and an adult man laughing together with the words could you befriend a child in care?

could you be an IV?

As our IV said, it only takes a few hours of your time a month and visits usually take place at the weekend.

We are currently looking for more volunteers to become IV's. You don't necessarily need to live in East Sussex as some of the young people looked after by East Sussex are placed elsewhere in the country.

Here are some profiles of volunteers we are looking for currently, including locations:

Location: Herne Bay, Kent

Looking for a young male volunteer who will take the young person to the skate park and do outdoor activities and sports with them.

Location: Winchelsea, Rye

Looking to be rematched with another volunteer who enjoys games, trips to arcades and who is kind and friendly.

Location: Eastbourne

Looking for a female volunteer who enjoys manga, rock music, art and crafts and cooking.

Location: Hove

Looking for a young woman who is interested in outdoorsy activities such as rock climbing, long walks and sports, has a good sense of humour and who can “keep up” with a high energy nature.

Location: Littlehampton

Looking for a young woman who enjoys musical activities, singing, dancing, playing and shopping.

Location: Worthing

Looking for a volunteer who enjoys music-based activities, outdoorsy activities and likes animals.

Location: Hove

Looking for a male volunteer who enjoys football and can take the young person to the park to play.

You don't need to be an enthusiast about the activities mentioned. It's more about whether you are willing to participate or support the interests of the young person, in other words, you don't need to be Ronaldo to be matched with a child who likes football, but you definitely need to be willing to kick a ball about!

If you'd like to ask any questions or apply, please visit our volunteering page.


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