James Rogers talks about being a role model for young people

This week Leeds City Council’s Independent Visitor scheme launches a new campaign, asking you #WhoWasYourRoleModel when you were growing-up. Leeds Rhinos players Jamie-Jones Buchanan and Zak Hardaker have been getting involved in some fantastic videos, and you can too on Twitter by letting us know who your role models are and using the hashtag.

In today’s blogpost we hear from James Rogers, Leeds City Council’s assistant chief executive, about how important it can be for young people to have a role model growing-up and how the Independent Visitor scheme helps provide role models to young people in care…

A picture of James Roger

A photo of James

“Independent visitors support and mentor our young people who are looked after by the council. Our young people may be in a variety of settings – residential care, foster homes, or in some cases, kinship homes (with relatives) – but all of them have one thing in common, for whatever reason they cannot live with their parents and will have likely come through some difficult circumstances to get to where they are today.

“Some young people may have behavioural challenges and some may find it difficult to trust people and all of them are in a residential setting where, no matter how good it may be, their primary relationships are with professionals tasked with looking after them. These professionals do a fantastic job, but the Independent Visitor initiative was put in place to fill a void and provide our young people in care with role models, supporters, befrienders, mentors and so much more.

“But we have a problem. There’s a waiting list of young men looking for somebody to be a role model to them. But why? Well nobody is really entirely sure, but some of our existing volunteers have suggested that they  were hesitant to volunteer, because they saw “looking after children” as something they would not be good at, or that their motivations may be considered questionable, and that they simply weren’t the sort of person who could mentor a young man.

“So if you, or someone you know, might be good at this sort of thing, can I ask you to tell them about this opportunity or give them a copy of this blog?  We need both women and men volunteers, but the key challenge at the moment is the need for more men.  The ideal people we are looking for are those who can commit to a visit with a young person once a month.  You don’t need to be “special”, have any experience, be a parent, or a member of council staff (so tell your friends, please!) or anything else.  But we do ask that, once accepted, if you decide to become a visitor, you’ll be looking at a longer term commitment of at least two years, personal circumstances permitting.”

Leeds Rhino player, Jamie-Jones Buchanan explaining who was his role model.

“After applying you’ll be interviewed, and if successful at that stage there will be training followed by a second interview. If you and the managers of the scheme agree to proceed, after appropriate checks, you’ll be carefully matched to a young person with whom you have something in common. You’ll receive full expenses for your days out with the young person you’re allocated to, and there will always be support from the managers of the scheme. But more than that, you’ll have an enormous amount of fun too, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping a young person into the future knowing that they are valued and cared about.”

A big thanks to James for sharing why he thinks the scheme is so important!

If you’d like to get involved in campaign, take a short video on your phone describing who you used to look up to and post it to twitter using the hashtag #WhoWasYourRoleModel, or just let us know in a Tweet.

You can find more information about the Independent Visitor scheme, and an application form for signing-up at: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/Pages/Leeds-independent-visitors-scheme.aspx , you can also give the team a call on: 0113 395 1255, if you have any questions.

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