An Independent Visitor (IV) is a volunteer, who wants to get to know you and spend time with you. They are there to support, listen and advise you but mostly have fun with you!
They are not paid to spend time with you, they volunteer because they want to get to know you, understand your interests and hobbies through fun activities.
These activities can range from going out to eat at your favorite restaurant; sporting activities such as football or basket ball; a trip to the cinema to see the latest films and so many other exciting things!
FACT: Did you know that’s it is your right to have an Independent Visitor?
Part of our law (The Children Act 1989) ensures that children and young people are kept healthy, safe and prepared for adulthood. IVs are included in this law. Your social worker should help you understand your right to an IV and how an IV can benefit you.
This is completely up to you! Your IV is there to spend time with you, and get to know you. You can suggest places you would like to visit together or activities you are interested in. You can share your hobbies and interests, try new things and build up a positive relationship with your Independent Visitor.
Here are some of the things that children and young people like to do with their IV:
- Meet for a chat and a snack
- Go out to your favorite restaurant or watch a movie
- Go trampolining
- Visit museums and exhibitions
- Theme parks or fun fairs
- Do sports together e.g. football, badminton or swimming
- Go to the park
And most of all have FUN! However you must take into consideration that some things may not be possible – it all depends on your service.
If you are interested in getting an IV you can speak to one of the following people:
- Social Worker
- Foster Carer
- Personal Adviser
- Key worker/residential carer
- IRO (Independent Reviewing Officer)
Alternatively, you could ask someone you feel comfortable talking to. They can speak to your Social Worker on your behalf.
When you decide you want an IV your Social Worker will get into contact with the Independent Visitor (IV) Service in your area for you. You will then be contacted by an IV Coordinator. An IV Coordinator is a person who works for an IV service. They will meet with you to find out your interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. This will help them understand what you want from your IV and help them pick the right person for you!
Children and young people in care often experience lots of change in their lives, such as moving foster home or residential and social workers coming and going.
An IV is a reliable adult friend who you can talk to, trust and have new experiences with. IVs often stay in your life for a long period of time, in some cases many years.
The IV will still be there for you when you move placements and change social workers to provide you with a stable, trusting relationship that can make a real difference to your life.
This is up to you. Not all children and young people in care may want an independent visitor, but if you have one and feel like you do not need one anymore, then that is completely up to you!
If the relationship ends you can decide how you would like to say goodbye. Your IV will not tell anyone the things you tell them, unless it is to keep you or someone else safe. Remember your IV is there for you because they want to not because they have to!