Toni Harrison volunteers with Sheffield City Council as an Independent Visitor, as part of a scheme to build helpful and positive relationships with young people who are in care or who have recently left care.
Independent visitors befriend and visit young people once a month to do fun activities and help to provide support and consistency in their lives.
Here’s what Toni has to say about her experiences as a volunteer:
I became an Independent Visitor purely by chance, and I’m so glad that I did. I simply wanted to get into voluntary work generally as it had been so long since I had ‘given back’ being caught up in the corporate world of IT. I googled ‘voluntary work in Sheffield’ and the Independent Visitor website caught my eye, I immediately contacted the team to request to join and in a few short months I was on a training course, learning about what it takes and what it means to be an IV.
For me, being an IV means that you’re giving a child the opportunity to escape, into a world where no one is treating them like a part of the system. Being an IV is being able to give a child a day of fun, where they can take the lead and learn and explore and have a friend outside of social workers and carers.
There is no typical day when you’re an IV – the possibilities are (almost) endless! Of course it depends on your match, but you can do anything from eating out, to laser quest, to theatre trips (as long as you’re smart with budgets). The fact that every meeting is different is great as you get to try things you may have never done, and you get to see different aspects of the young person you’re matched with.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Independent Visitors, and the kids I have met so far have been exceptional people and we have had exciting and fun experiences, I don’t feel like I’m volunteering, I feel like I’m entering genuine friendships where, not only can I help, but I can see life from a completely new perspective with every match. I couldn’t recommend becoming an IV enough, it has been a wonderful journey so far.
For more information about becoming an independent visitor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Angela Taylor or Sarah Javes on 0114 2288522/0114 2288556.