Here in Sheffield we wanted to make sure that children and young people were at the centre of our scheme’s development. We wanted to give the young people who have an Independent Visitor the opportunity to have their say on all aspects of how the scheme is run.
Over the past year we have established a group of 6 to 8 core members with others joining in when the project or topic is something of interest to them. All children and young people with an Independent Visitor are invited to get involved. The group meet quarterly as a whole, and then additional sessions are held depending on the project they are working on.
The group meets in person and over Zoom. The sessions are mixed up, to ensure they are accessible for all. The sessions are held after school for a couple of hours, usually on a Wednesday. The young people are rewarded for their time in vouchers.
We have been incredibly proud of the group’s achievements over the past year they include…
Changed our Photo Policy
The group told us that they would like their Independent Visitor to be able to take photos of them during visits, like ‘normal’ friends would. We could not have agreed more and so a new policy was developed and approved whereby after the 4th visit if a young person feels comfortable, their IV can take photos of them to include in their monthly ‘Our Friendship Journey’ forms. Foster Carers and Social Workers also form part of each individual’s consent. The feedback from young people about this change has been unbelievably positive and has brought their memories of their friendship alive.
Our Friendship Journey Form
Each month IV’s are asked to write a diary sheet about what happened on their visit. These are kept within the scheme. IV’s write these like a diary to their young person. These are then shared with the young person as memories to look back on. The Voice’s Group have made three changes to these forms…
- Its name: It was previously called ‘Activity Monitoring Form’ the young people re-named it to ‘Our Friendship Journey.’
- Previously we only gave these forms to young people when their match came to an end. Young people said that they wanted to see them yearly. They now receive a folder with them in at their yearly review.
- The design was changed to match their new branding and to include a space dedicated to photos.
Re-designing of flyers for children and young people
The group had very strong views about our flyers and wanted to change them straight away. Luckily, we have a colleague in our extended team that enjoys designing and so we held extra sessions with him to create two new flyers and branding for the scheme. The young people decided it was important to have two versions, one for younger children and one for older young people. They were also keen for the poster to include photos of real life IV matches so permission was sought to use some photo’s publicly.
Some young people in the group were keen to help us with recruiting new volunteers. They were trained and involved in our interview process. We have previously had them on an interview panel. However this year due to the high number of volunteers recruited, the young people helped us out with a new style of interviewing ‘speed interviews.’ Young people choose and asked their own questions and had the opportunity to give their views on the appointment of the volunteer.
Volunteers Week Celebration Event
We asked the group how they wanted to thank their IV and celebrate volunteer week. They were really keen to have a celebration event, where all IVs and young people were invited. We had separate planning sessions to look at when and where to hold the event. They chose activities and food and they arrived early on the day to help set up and decorate the room. A highlight of the event, was when members of the group delivered a presentation to say thank you to everyone. The event will now be a yearly occurrence.
Going forward we hope to create a new name for our group, as it doesn’t really have one and we hope to keep increasing numbers so that more children and young people have a say.
Who knows what this year will bring, as they come up with new and exciting ways to improve the scheme…
If anyone would like further information on the group please contact the Sheffield Independent Visitor Scheme on: