Volunteers sought to befriend and support children and young people living in care.

Nepacs charity has an exciting opportunity for anyone with a few hours to spare each month, interested in giving their time to support local children and young people who are living in care.

The Independent Visitor service is a befriending scheme for children and young people between the ages of 8 and 17 years old.  Provided by volunteers, the service is designed to offer each child the chance to build a trusted friendship with someone outside of their day-to-day life.

Each volunteer meets up with the young person once a month, over a period of time, doing things they enjoy together, such as going for a bike ride, watching football or sharing a cuppa and chat. Most visits naturally take place at weekends, evenings or in school holidays when children are free.

Independent visitors are not professional care workers. They are adult volunteers, from all walks of life, who can spare an hour or so each month to spend time with a child or young person, listening to what’s going on in their life and offering support and friendship.

Each relationship between a volunteer and a young person is a unique and important one.  Working with both the volunteer and the child or young person, Nepacs takes time to carefully match them together based on common interests and those who they think would be a good fit.   All volunteers also receive full training and on-going support from the Nepacs team.

Angela Donaghy, from the Nepacs independent visitor service, said: “An Independent Visitor is an adult volunteer who provides support and friendship to a child or young person ‘looked after’ by the local authority. This involves establishing a long term supportive relationship where the young person will have the opportunity to develop their interests, learn new skills and build their self-esteem.

“We are looking to recruit volunteers to support young people who are under Local Authority care in South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, Sunderland or County Durham, but also maybe placed out of their local authority area.

“You do not need any special qualifications, but we are looking for dedicated people of all ages who are comfortable with befriending and being a good role model for a child or young person who may have experienced difficult times during their childhood. We ask that you are able to commit to a few hours once per month for a minimum of 12 months. Children in care need that sort of continuity and ideally the relationship becomes a genuine friendship that will continue informally after the young person leaves care at the age of 18.”

To find out the difference you can make as an Independent Visitor watch Max’s story on the Nepacs YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/oDSEMi8qXwo

More information on the Nepacs’ independent visitor service, including how to volunteer, can be found on the Nepacs website: www.nepacs.co.uk or email IV@nepacs.co.uk .

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