In Bristol, there are over 750 Children in Care. Our Belonging Strategy explains that these children’s “love, care and resilience depends on the Local Authority and the community of Bristol to provide an equal playing field with others and to develop their gifts for a happy and successful life”.
Reconstruct’s Independent Visitor Service provides volunteer befrienders to children and young people living in care in Bristol. Independent Visitors (IVs) are positive adult role models who make a commitment to establish a supportive and long-term relationship with a young person built on trust.
IVs meet up with a young person once a month, for two-to-three hours to share fun activities, sports, and hobbies. They guide and listen to a young person, helping to build their self-esteem and develop new interests and skills over time.
Children and young people in care have often experienced trauma and a lack of consistent adult relationships and an IV may be the one constant adult in their life. Bristol’s Belonging Strategy sets out a clear ambition for every child and young person to be included, to feel safe to be themselves and achieve their best.
Young people tell us having an IV makes a big difference, helping them to feel valued, listened to and to have fun in their local community. Often, young people tell us they would like to be matched with a volunteer who shares their heritage or language. Currently, 24% of young people in Bristol waiting for an independent visitor are male and come from an ethnic minority background.
There are over 50 incredible volunteer independent visitors visiting children and young people across the city, and beyond. However, male volunteers and people from minority ethnic backgrounds are currently underrepresented in our independent visitor community.
We need more volunteers to come forward to match with children and young people who are waiting to build a connection with a trusted adult. If you feel you could offer a young person in care two-to-three hours of your time, each month, to play sports, explore their interests, culture, future goals, and aspirations, we are keen to hear from you.
Chris, an Independent Visitor for Reconstruct explains why he enjoys the role “I find being an IV a great honour. I’ve been visiting the young person I’m matched with for 4 years now and seeing him grow from when we first met when he was at primary school, into the young man he is today, has filled me with a sense of pride. I only hope that I’ve had a positive influence on his life, thus far, and continue to do so.”
To express an interest please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit our website: Bristol Advocacy and IV portal Partners (reconstruct.co.uk)