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YouTube star: Why foster children shouldn’t miss out on an Independent Visitor

Release Date: 09 Sep 2017

An urban spoken word artist and rising social media star has joined a national campaign to help more young people in foster care find inspiring adult mentors.

Spoken word artist Nego True is supporting a campaign encouraging young people in foster care to ask for an Independent Visitor.

East Londoner Nego True, whose emotive performances have notched up more than a million views on YouTube, has today launched a new video with Barnardo’s and the National Independent Visitor Network, encouraging looked-after young people to seek someone they can spend quality time with outside of the usual care system environment.

Independent visitors – or IVs – are volunteers who are carefully matched with young people in foster care so together they can build a positive, trusting and consistent relationship over the long term.

Walks in the park, days out and chats over coffee are among the experiences that a young person might share with their Independent Visitor, who will stay with them for years even as the child moves to a new foster home or changes social worker.

Although all children in foster care may be legally entitled to an Independent Visitor, research has shown that only three in 100 children in care in England and Wales are currently matched with an IV, and local services are often under-resourced or simply unavailable.

Nego hopes the video, produced with the involvement of looked-after young people and with support from advertising agency Chapter, will help raise awareness of the vital role an IV can have in the life of a young person with no supportive, nurturing family of their own.

Nego True said:

It’s difficult to build a future with people you don’t have memories with. Young people who aren’t able to live with their birth family need to look elsewhere to find that someone who can offer comfort and consistency, no matter what life throws at them.

I hope I can help inspire more young people in foster care right now to exercise their right to ask for an Independent Visitor, and to know there are people out there who are ready to stand by them.

The video will be launched at the Soho Theatre in Dean Street Saturday, Sept 9, with a live performance by Nego in front of an audience of young people and IVs, and performances and talks by young people themselves.

Watch the video online now: https://youtu.be/vr7XqS7kuDw

Narin Cakir, Team Manager of the National IV Network, said:

We created the film after young people told us they wanted to be communicated to in a new way, and they were involved throughout the whole process.

Every day our members see the difference that Independent Visitors make in young people’s lives, but services throughout the country are still incredibly under-resourced. I hope people share this film and help us spread the message that every child should have the opportunity to develop a meaningful and rewarding connection with an adult who shares their interests.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, added:

We are delighted Nego is helping us to highlight how an Independent Visitor can help to transform the life of a young person in foster care. Knowing they have someone there for them – whether that’s having a chat over a coffee, or spending the day together - can make such a positive difference to their lives.

Having access to this support system can really benefit a young person, so it’s great that Nego is helping us to spread the word and encourage more young people in foster care to ask for an Independent Visitor.

Please support the National Independent Visitor Network by following @IV_Network on Twitter.

ENDS

Notes to editors

For interview requests or more information, please call 020 8498 7555 or email dan.hodges@barnardos.org.uk

Launch event: Media are invited to attend the campaign launch at the Soho Theatre, Dean Street, London on Saturday, September 9 from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. Please register in advance by email to dan.hodges@barnardos.org.uk

Picture caption: Stills from the film show Nego True meeting a young person.

In 2016, a study by Barnardo’s and the National Independent Visitor Network found that  only three in 100 children in care in England are getting the independent support they may be entitled to by law.

Every child in care in England has the right to an adult mentor who 'visits, befriends and advises’ them, if it is in their best interests. But the study of 149 local authorities in England found two in three local authorities have a waiting list for children to be matched with an independent visitor. In places where there is no waiting list, these mentoring services are often little known or may not exist at all.

The study found 2,200 vulnerable children are currently paired with independent visitors – just three per cent of the 69,000 looked after children in England. On average, most local authorities have just 14 children in care matched with an IV.

The National IV Network has developed a set of standards aim to ensure that all looked after children understand their right to an independent visitor, that services are designed to suit the needs and views of the child, and that proper processes are in place to recruit and train independent visitors, and to match them with the right children and monitor the positive impact of those matches over the long term.

Organisations that have signed up to the standards so far include Barnardo’s, the National Independent Visitor Network, Action for Children, The Children’s Society, The Young Lives Foundation, The Tudor Trust, NYAS, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Sova, Swansea CVS, City of York Council, Volunteering Matters, Coram Voice and Tros Gynnal Plant.

The National Independent Visitor Network is run through Barnardo’s and funded by The Tudor Trust.

Barnardo’s:  Last year 272,000 children, young people and families were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, including young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, and through training and skills or parenting classes.

We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.

Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605.


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