We speak to Sarah, one of our amazing Independent Visitors and her experience supporting M.
What is your name and what do you do as a volunteer?
My name is Sarah and I am an IV. I am matched with a young woman called M.
How did you first hear about becoming a volunteer with BLGC?
I used to be a teacher and I had just retired. I wanted to do some voluntary work so I went to the Bolton CVS to see what was available. I started with two volunteering roles, one of which was at Bolton Lads & Girls Club as a Volunteer Mentor. I mentored T for three years and then I was asked to become a Volunteer Independent Visitor for M. We have been matched for nearly a year and a half now.
What is a normal session as an Independent Visitor like?
Every time is different as you have to look at the person you are matched with and see what they need from your time together. Most of the time M wants to stay in her home. I think this because she doesn’t have a lot of visitors and she doesn’t like noisy environments. It does give us a good opportunity to have a chat. She likes to talk about her family, who are unfortunately not with us anymore. She’s been through some really difficult times in her life but she finds it helps to have a laugh about what has happened, so we try and do that.
What have you found challenging being an Independent Visitor?
M herself hasn’t been a challenge but I think her life has been and I am there to support her through that. I don’t think her first 6 months were very happy in Bolton.
What support have you had from Bolton Lads & Girls Club?
I have had plenty of support. Sarah (IV Coordinator & Head of Targeted Youth Services) has been marvelous.
What do you think M has got out of having an Independent Visitor?
She can be quiet sometimes and so sometimes she does needs a little push. When we first met I asked her what two things she would you like to be able to do by the end of this year and she said she would like to learn to swim and to ride a bike. So that is what we did. BLGC were great and helped us get free swimming lessons and a bike! She also (with another little push!) joined NCS last summer and made three friends. I think she is more content than she was. One thing I said to her which I think has stuck with her is to never ever give up hope. It might not happen tomorrow but to always remain hopeful.
What do you feel you have got out of being an Independent Visitor?
I feel very privileged to be an IV for M. She has already experienced so much more in her life than I ever have and it has been a privilege to get to know her, support her and to help in any way I can.
What would you say to someone who may be interested in becoming an Independent Visitor?
I think it is a lovely thing to do. It’s a very enjoyable and a privileged role to be for someone who really needs it.
Thank you Sarah, it has been amazing seeing the difference in M since having your support!