Our Services St Helens Advocacy Independent Visitor Befriending and supporting young people in care in St Helens. Listening to, guiding and advising as well as trying new activities and spending quality time together. An Independent Visitor is a volunteer who befriends a young person in care. It is an increasingly vital and valuable role that can make a positive difference to a child’s life. It is reported that Independent Visitors can encourage children to take more productive paths in life. Why do we need Independent Visitors? There are currently a record number of children living in care, with 90 children coming into care every day. In the UK, we have over 80,000 children and young people living in care homes and foster homes. Often being part of the ‘care system,’ children can feel isolated and lonely, up to that point they may not have had many positive role models in their life. They may see Social Workers and other professionals on a day-to-day basis but may feel as though they have no one to personally support and listen to them. An Independent Visitor can sometimes be the only person who is not paid to be there for them. They are called ‘Independent Visitors’ because they are truly independent from Children’s Social Care.’ What does an Independent Visitor do? Our Independent Visitors in St Helens befriend and support young people by: Developing long-term friendships Listening to them and ensuring they have someone who is there for them Encouraging them to express any concerns Guiding them through sometimes difficult or confusing times in their life such as puberty, when they need someone to be there for them most Motivate and inspire them to develop new interests, skills or hobbies Take them on outings to places like the cinema or going for a walk Encourage educational journeys and development Maintain regular contact via phone or email Looking after their personal safety or welfare This kind of friendship cannot be provided by professional services and is something that is highly important in a young person’s life. Children who feel they have someone who is genuinely looking out for their best interests feel they can communicate more openly and effectively, and are more likely to be open about issues that are affecting them. Ultimately, an Independent Visitor can make the child feel safe and supported.