Children who need a friend

Children in care are being put on a waiting list to find them friends as there are not enough adult volunteers to provide the support and fun they need. Volunteers are needed to befriend the youngsters who are in care, and there is currently a waiting l

Children in care are being put on a waiting list to find them "friends" as there are not enough adult volunteers to provide the support and fun they need.

Volunteers are needed to befriend the youngsters who are in care, and there is currently a waiting list of boys who would like a male role model.

However, both men and women are needed to meet up with the children every fortnight, helping to provide trips out, such as bowling, going for a pizza, seeing a football match or just having a coffee and a chat.

Volunteers need to be over 18 but can come from any walk of life. They simply need to be there to give the children help, advice and support and be completely independent from foster carers and social workers.

The friendship gives the youngsters a chance to have fun, but also to have a moan and get things off their chest, which is an important role should they not have any close family to turn to.

The idea is that (especially as some social workers change jobs so frequently) the visitor will be someone to trust, who will do what they promise and will be a long-term friend.

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The volunteers are known as "independent Visitors" or "IVs", and are given training, advice and support by the charity Spurgeons, based in St Neots.

"Children in care benefit greatly from having an adult friend who is there just for them," said a charity spokesman. "Someone who is completely separate from social services who can offer a listening ear, support and a chance to get away from their daily routine and have some fun.

"We are currently recruiting volunteers for our next training course and we would particularly welcome enquiries from men as we have a waiting list of looked-after boys who would benefit from having a positive male role model.

"No formal qualifications are needed but the ability to get on with and enjoy the company of young people is essential."

Since 2004, Spurgeons has run the independent visitor service for Cambridgeshire County Council.

INFORMATION: Volunteers need to be able to offer a couple of hours a fortnight. As well as training, and on-going support and supervision, independent visitors receive expenses to cover their trips out with youngsters.

This role is subject to a satisfactory criminal records bureau check. For further details, contact the scheme on 01480 214477 or e-mail a.blackcambsiv@onetel.net

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