My Volunteering Story |The Leeds Independent Visitor Scheme
Simon Davis, Independent Visitor to a young teenager in care
- What does an average working day look like for you?
An average working day for me is getting up about 7 o’clock after putting my alarm on snooze 3 or 4 times since 6:30. I usually don’t want to get out of bed but if I leave it too late I have to rush so I try to make sure I get up just before 7. I get up, take a shower, get dressed and get some breakfast. I usually watch BBC breakfast on TV in the morning and update my iPod with some podcasts to listen to for my morning commute. After saying goodbye to my fiancé before she drives to work I head off to catch my bus which is only a minute’s walk away from my house. I usually listen to podcasts on the bus like The Nerdist or The Monday Morning Podcast. Once I’ve got work after a 15 minute walk from the bus stop I load up my laptop and check my emails. I work in a research department in an office so I send out surveys online, conduct interviews or on occasion I will go visit people who work in hospitals to find out what they need from the computer systems they use to help them save time or save work. I often help the designers to create new computer systems by telling them what people need and try to make sure it is simple enough for everyone to use. After work I grab the bus home again and then get home. If it’s a Thursday I go play football with my friends on a 5 a side pitch If it’s my turn to cook I usually watch YouTube videos while I cook dinner for me and my fiancé. I like watching Game Grumps as I love video games. After watching Netflix and eating dinner my fiancé will go and do some work and I’ll go on my PS4. I usually play Overwatch and if my friends are online then I might play a game or two with them. I usually play on and off for around an hour and then will watch something with my fiancé and then we’ll go to bed around 9:30. I’m usually not tired when I get to bed so I’ll browse Reddit or YouTube and maybe read.
- How did you hear about the Independent Visitor (IV) scheme?
I previously worked at a research company where we researched and tested games and apps for kids and young adults. Our company ran the MaxCard scheme for children whom are looked after to receive discounts on activities and I heard about the IV scheme through a colleague who ran this. She said she had been contacted because not enough men were volunteering to be IVs. I had been looking for a volunteering opportunity so I put forward my application on the same day.
- How easy did you find it to apply and register to become a visitor?
Applying to become an IV was fairly straightforward, the coordinators of the scheme took care of pretty much all of the work around it. As I recall all I had to do was fill in an initial application form and attend training. The training was 2 days and each session was on a Saturday. It was good to speak with other people who were interested in becoming IVs and learn as a group as it allowed us all to openly ask questions and heard about the experience of current IVs and the sorts situations the young people were dealing with. After that was a final interview and then if this is successful, the co-ordinators recommend you to the authorisation panel who make the final decision as to whether you can become an independent visitor. Once this has been authorised, you are matched to a young person who has similar interests to you.
- What made you want to be a visitor and what do you get out of it?
“I wanted to become a visitor because I wanted to do something positive with my spare time to help someone else.” The scheme doesn’t involve a lot of time commitment as it is only 1 visit a month but when you are on the visit you do need to be committed to the visit. At first I was apprehensive about the visits as the first time I met my young person they were quite quiet, but as time has gone on they have begun to talk more and get involved more in the visits. I enjoy the visits with my young person as the coordinators made sure we have some things in common for us to talk about and do on our visits. We mostly talk about Star Wars, Marvel, video games and movies. Doing the volunteering also helps me to do things out of my comfort zone which I have enjoyed. The last visit I had was to the National Coal Mining museum which I really enjoyed but going down into the mines was a bit claustrophobic which I usually avoid. I really enjoyed it though.
- Have you experienced any problems since becoming a visitor? Not to worry if you haven’t!
I haven’t experienced any problems since becoming a visitor
- What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming an independent visitor?
I would advise them to speak to the coordinators about the scheme and put in an application. You will find out much more on the training and if you don’t feel like you don’t want to do it after that then you don’t have to. It doesn’t take a lot of your time to do it, it naturally just fits into the things you do on a monthly basis. But you do need to be willing to commit to it for several months so bear this in mind, it will take time for you and your young person to build a friendship but it is totally worth it.