Volunteers needed to support young people in care

Volunteers are urgently needed to help support Somerset children and young people in care have fun, gain confidence, rebuild trust and speak up for them in key meetings.

Age and background don’t matter – but commitment and a willingness to connect with children and young people who need independent support are essential.

Somerset County Council would welcome volunteers for two roles in its Route 1 advocacy service – a service which improves the lives of children and young people in care or who are vulnerable.

‘Independent visitors’ act as an adult friend to a child or young person in local authority care. They meet each other regularly – every two to four weeks. The visitor becomes that special person to talk to, have some fun with and create some positive childhood memories. It’s a long-term relationship so a commitment of two years is needed.

‘Advocates’ help a child or young person express their views and represent them at meetings about their wellbeing. This could be child protection meetings, a review for a looked after child or young person or a Family Group Meeting.

Independent visitors and advocates offer vital support for the children who may feel scared or isolated by their situation. Training, support and out of pocket expenses are provided.

Independent Visitor Volunteer, Bridget, said: “I volunteered because I was between jobs, had time on my hands and thought it would be interesting. Volunteering is good for you and I really enjoy being able to give. I’ve supported three young people, one of which I supported for over four years. We have a lot of fun, go out to places and chat. I really am a friend and a support arm.”

Cllr David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council and lead member for volunteering said: “The two roles of Route 1 volunteers are so important for our children and young people as they provide that independent support and champion the child or young person. The volunteers themselves find it rewarding to know they have made a very real difference to the life of a vulnerable child or young person.”

If you are interested, watch Rebecca Durrant from Route 1 explain the two volunteering roles at https://youtu.be/zaBAvq4ztR0 while volunteer Bridget talks about why she volunteers at https://youtu.be/bhIefbv-ZdU.

To apply or find out more information about Route 1 volunteering roles – or any Somerset County Council volunteering opportunity – check out https://volunteering.somerset.gov.uk/opportunities/route-1-advocacy/

You can also contact Route 1 on  01749 822801 or route1advocacy@somerset.gov.uk for more information.