Our CEO Oonagh Aitken said:

“I was saddened to read the news this morning that only 3% of looked-after children in England have a volunteer mentor, or ‘Independent Visitor’, to support them into adulthood. However, I am pleased that Barnardo’s and the Tudor Trust have publicised this issue.

The 1989 Children’s Act says councils must appoint volunteers to ‘visit, befriend and advise’ children in care if it is in their best interests. It is not acceptable that 97% of children in care are missing out.

At Volunteering Matters, we run a range of mentoring services for vulnerable young people. In the London Borough of Hounslow and Derby we run successful Independent Visitor services (Hounslow Allies and Derby Independent Visitors and Advocates) for children in care. We also run a programme called ‘Grandmentors’ in Islington and Hounslow, where we recruit people aged 50+ to mentor care leavers. In North Lanarkshire we run a befriending scheme for vulnerable young people.

We endorse Barnardo’s call for councils to sign up to quality standards – indeed these are the very standards that we uphold at Volunteering Matters when we organise mentoring programmes.

We believe that all young people in the care system deserve the support of a mentor – and we have no shortage of volunteer mentors ready to support children in care. Our volunteers tell us that they gain significantly from the experience of volunteering and making a meaningful contribution to society – it’s a double win.

We would be delighted to organise this service for any local authority that wants to address this issue and boost the wellbeing and life changes of young people in their care through an Independent Visitor service.”