The importance of a long term, trusted adult in the life of a child in care (Independent Visitor)

Phil lived in a number of placements across the North-West, including Bolton. We met with him to find out his views on the importance of a consistent, trusted adult in the life of a child in care.

I was in care from birth. I never knew my mother or father or any relatives. I spent most of my childhood in children’s homes.

I very much remember the positive relationships I had with some of the other young people, which are vital, as young people need others around them facing similar issues. At the same time, just knowing that there is someone out there who will come and spend time with you and help you do the things you enjoy can spur you on.

I was mad about football but I remember a 17 year old guy coming in and showing me how to play rugby and that gave me much more confidence when we first had to play it at my school – I ran in six tries. Being confident at rugby helped me be confident in my new school. I went on to play rugby for the school and even though I ended up living in a dingy bedsit, I was happy through my school years and qualified to go straight to university. There are so many little things that adults can achieve by just spending time with a young person. That extra time can be fun and instructive but it is also knowledge that there is a brighter world out there for you.

I found that carers then were often too busy to spend time with you, and it is the same today. In any case, my carers were virtually all women who were not involved in sport, so I looked forward to having a guy come in who knew about rugby and could show me the moves. We need more men to volunteer as Independent Visitors for boys who need a positive male role model in their life.

If you can find out what the young person likes, what they want and what they think they are good at and really make a difference to their life by engaging with them on these issues and having some fun. You will get the pleasure of knowing that you make a difference. At the same time, you can also learn a lot yourself. I am a great believer that every adult and young person has something to teach us, some skill that we can learn from. And, if you are relatively young, then just being with other young people and teenagers will give you invaluable lessons should you go on to have a family of your own.

In the end, our value to this world lies not in how many cars or houses we have but in how we help the world to be a better place for others to live in. The youth are our future, so there is nothing more worthwhile than volunteering at Bolton Lads & Girls Club as an Independent Visitor and put those spare hours to good use. Drag yourself away from the telly and make a difference to a young person’s life”.

You can listen to Phil’s TV and radio broadcasts on growing up in care .

What an Independent Visitor (IV) can mean to a young person

Independent Visitors are outside the care system and are a listening ear and a consistent trusted adult who can provide an escape from feeling part of a system, giving special time to be a child and do normal activities. IVs play a unique role in a child’s life.

As an Independent Visitor, you will make a real difference to the life of a child in care and provide a powerful message to a young person.

What’s involved?

– Being there just for one young person

– As a volunteer you would not be part of a case load

– Visiting with them for a few hours every couple of weeks, building a long-term, positive, consistent and trusting relationship

– Going through our recruitment process, which will include DBS

– Being comprehensively trained and fully supported and supervised throughout the match with a young person

Do you want to make a different? To find out more please call Sarah Randall on 07870 873 698 or e-mail: