Volunteers are needed to support young people in care, providing friendship and advice to help them through times of need.
Somerset County Council is appealing for more Route 1 Advocacy and Independent Visitors. These are adult volunteers who help young people in a number of ways – from providing fun and building happy childhood memories, to supporting them as they make important life decisions.
Councillor Tessa Munt, the County Council’s Lead Executive Member for Children & Families, said: “Young people in care can be very vulnerable and may need good company and a friendly face – as we all do. Route 1 Advocacy and Independent Visitors are there to support young people in ways that the care system can’t – as a friend, an ally and someone to speak up for them when they need to be heard.
“I would encourage anyone who wishes to spend time helping a young person make the most of their life chances to get in touch with Route 1 Advocacy and Independent Visitors and find out more.”
Any child receiving a service from Children’s Social Care can request an Advocate. Advocates listen to a child or young person’s views and wishes and make sure these are heard and acted upon. They might speak up on behalf of a child, write a letter, make a phone call or help them understand their rights at an important time in their life. They can go along to meetings on behalf of the child and be someone a young person can lean on if they are worried about changes in their life.
Independent Visitors become a trusted adult friend and ally to a young person in care, offering companionship, days out, activities and new experiences, and a chance to chat – all of which helps young people without a family network to build resilience and develop life skills.
All volunteers are subject to criminal record checks to ensure the safety of the young people they will spend time with. Training is a five-day course, which covers a wide variety of subjects and receives enthusiastic acclaim from previous volunteers for the breadth and usefulness of the subjects covered. No previous experience is necessary, volunteers’ expenses are paid for, including travel and days out, and these important roles are open to anyone over the age of 21 who has spare time.
You can contact Route 1 Advocacy and Independent Visitors in several ways:
Calling 01749 822801
Writing to Route1 Advocacy – SCC, PO Box 5176, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 9DD
Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and http://www.somerset.gov.uk/education-and-families/route1-advocacy