Barnardo’s is urging people to volunteer to be friends with children in care.
The plea comes on after last Sunday’s Friendship Day where people exchanged gifts to celebrate being pals.
Barnardo’s highlighted the occasion with the touching story of two people who became friends through the charity’s Independent Visitors Scheme (IV) in Wakefield and still remain close.
Mum-of-four Kim Riley met Jessie (not her real name) in 2014 when Jessie was 16 and in care. IV volunteers like Kim are specially trained by Barnardo’s to provide emotional support and friendship and they are independent of the care system.
Kim, 35, said: “I volunteered because I knew there were young people and children out there not as lucky as my own children. As a single mum I didn’t have a lot of time, but I knew I had enough to try and make a difference and the time I could give would be valuable.
They agreed to keep in touch when Jessie turned 18 and left care. Jessie, now 20, said: “I’ve got someone I can confide in who doesn’t judge me, but who is there and understands me. I don’t like pushing people – if I can keep Kim in my life I’ve always got someone I can talk to and we can always be friends. I hope we are going to be friends forever.”
IVs remain a constant with a young person, seeing them regularly and sharing experiences, giving a commitment to work with the service for a minimum of a year once they are trained.
If you would like to know more about being an Independent Visitor please contact Kate or Julie on 01977 552 493 or email WakefieldCAPS@barnardos.org.uk.
The next training starts on Saturday, September 22. It is really informal and done at a weekend so people can attend.