A volunteer’s experience – being there for someone

I first became aware of the Independent Visitor (IV) scheme in January of 2012. At this point in my life, I’d admit that I had lost direction. Having graduated from Uni a year previously, I was living in Leeds, working in a job which was both completely unrelated to what I actually wanted to do for a career; and also incredibly boring!

With this, I was desperately looking for something I could engage with and dedicate myself towards. The IV scheme was exactly what I was looking for.

After being notified that my application had been successful, I was then invited to interview for the position in June. I really had no idea what to expect during the interview, but soon after meeting Helen and Esther I felt very welcomed and at ease. The interview process itself was a great deal more in depth than I had initially thought it would have been. It was with this that I realised the seriousness and importance of the scheme and the effect it can have on the lives of many young people within the area. I left feeling even more eager to become an IV and fortunately enough, I was invited to the two day training course in July.

The training we received was great, really thought-provoking and informative. I also met some really interesting people and it was nice to gain an insight as to why these other people had also wanted to become an IV. After the training had been completed, I was then formally informed that I would be put forward to become an IV.

In January 2013 I was matched up with a young person to hopefully become his IV. M was 16, and currently living in residential care home. We were matched up by our interests. I was pleased to be matched with a teenaged lad, as myself being 23 at the time thought we would have quite a lot in common.

Helen invited me to visit M to introduce myself and have chance to briefly get to know one another. Fortunately, M gave me the thumbs up and we arranged our first proper visit for a few weeks later. Since then our relationship has gone from strength to strength. We have built a really solid bond and we both look forward to our monthly sessions. At times, M has opened up to me and given me insight to his background, and why he has ended up living in a care home. This is always tough to digest, however I take inspiration from M as he always acts so maturely and responsibly for a young man of his age.

M will be turning 18 in a few months time and will be moving out of his care home, into a supported living lodge, something in which he is very much looking forward to. With this our IV relationship will end, however I am hoping to stay in touch with him long after this point in his life.

As for me, I now work for three different organisations; The Children’s Society, Age UK and People Matters Leeds. I love the work I do and it is a pleasure to go into work every day and do the work I am involved with.

I truly believe that without the IV scheme, these opportunities would not have become available for me, and am therefore so grateful for how the IV staff, M, and the scheme itself has allowed me to develop as a person.

I will certainly continue to work as an IV for many years to come.

Zach (October 2013)

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