Hear from LGBTQ+ Independent Visitors about their experience of befriending.
Over the course of February and in honour of LGBT+ History Month, we’ve been welcoming submissions from LGBTQ+ Independent Visitors and amplifying their voices across our social media platforms. Now that the month’s over, check out the detailed testimonials from our contributors below!
My name is Dani and I take she/her pronouns. One of the reasons I wanted to become an IV was down to my experience of struggling with my identity growing up. I was lucky enough to have an independent adult in my life who I could turn when I was finding it difficult and always supported me. I honestly don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for them. I therefore wanted to offer my time to provide similar support to a young person and when I heard about the IV Scheme I knew it was for me.
“My name is Dani and I take she/her pronouns. One of the reasons I wanted to become an IV was down to my experience of struggling with my identity growing up. I was lucky enough to have an independent adult in my life who I could turn when I was finding it difficult and always supported me. I honestly don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for them. I therefore wanted to offer my time to provide similar support to a young person and when I heard about the IV Scheme I knew it was for me.
I have been an IV for just over one year now and have loved every moment of it. I am always learning from my young person- from improving my football skills to most recently learning all about different kinds of marine wildlife! My absolute favourite memory so far was when I took him to see his first football match in a big stadium as a special treat for his birthday. I’ll never forget the huge smile on his face as he watched the match.
Whilst we’ve never explicitly discussed that I am part of the LGBTQ+ community I’ve always been open, and he doesn’t bat an eyelid. I think it is important that IV schemes have volunteers from a range of backgrounds to match up young people with, and when going through the recruitment process it was made clear to me that diversity was hugely valued.
I would definitely recommend the IV scheme to other LGBTQ+ people!
Current LGBTQ+ IV and former IV Coordinator
As an LGBT+ IV, I can say that we can work with anyone successfully. From the perspective of a Coordinator, many LGBT+ people used to come to us just wanting to work with an LGBT+ kid, but this really narrows down options, and assumes a fixed sexuality/identity.
How did you find out about Independent Visiting?
I was looking into fostering but it wasn’t an option due to my partner not being interested, I approached a Fostering Southampton stand to see how I could get involved in other ways, and they suggested I look at options of volunteering as an IV instead!
How long have you been matched for?
A little over a year.
What has your experience of being an LGBT+ volunteer been like?
The process was really easy and straightforward, my sexuality was never an issue and actually, as I was open about it on my application, I think it helped my matched child choose who she wanted as she was looking for support and advice from an older member of the LGBTQA+ community.
What’s your favourite memory with your young person?
I have a few, one was the two of us ditching our original day plans of mini-golf to go to a cat cafe because that’s what we’d rather do, watching her come out of a really rough time and get the support she deserved was a big one, and getting a text from her foster mom saying she’d told her social worker I was her best friend. There are loads, she’s a delightful little human being.
If you had one thing to say to any potential volunteers, what would it be?
If it’s something you’re interested in, DEFINITELY do it. It’s a lot of fun, really rewarding and literally only a few hours a month.
What has being an IV brought to your life?
This is a really hard one. Firstly, it’s introduced me to some amazing people, including my matched person and the other people who work with IVs. It’s given me one thing a month to REALLY look forward to and I have a lot to give and am unlikely to have kids any time soon. I’m infertile and gay with a partner that doesn’t like kids, so you can do the math. So somewhere for that affection and maternal energy to go has been great.
Making a difference to someone is always rewarding. I was never in foster care, but a lot of my family has been and when I was growing up, I had some support from some incredible adults who stepped up to make sure my needs were met, and heard when I was otherwise going to fall through the cracks too. Being on the other side of that and making sure someone else’s needs are met and heard, and listening to make sure they ALSO don’t fall through the cracks is invaluable.