Independent visitors (IVs)

An independent visitor (IV) is a volunteer who wants to get to know you and spend time with you. They are there to support, listen and advise you, but also to have fun with you.

They are not paid to spend time with you, they volunteer because they want to get to know you and understand your interests and hobbies through fun activities.

These activities can range from:

  • Going out to eat at your favourite restaurant
  • Sporting activities such as football or basketball
  • A trip to the cinema

It is your right to have an independent visitor. Part of our law (The Children Act 1989) ensures that children and young people are kept healthy, safe and prepared for adulthood. IVs are included in this law. Your social worker should help you understand your right to an IV and how an IV can benefit you.

Watch "Independent Visitor 'Our Legal Right' animation" on YouTube.

How do I get an independent visitor and how can I ask to see one?

If you are interested in getting an IV, you can speak to one of the following people:

  • Social worker
  • Foster carer
  • Personal adviser
  • Key worker/residential carer
  • IRO (independent reviewing officer)
  • Participation officer/coordinator

Alternatively, you could ask someone you feel comfortable talking to. They can speak to your social worker on your behalf.

How to get an IV

When you decide you want an IV, your social worker will get into contact with the independent visitor (IV) service in your area for you. You will then be contacted by an IV coordinator who works for the IV service. They will meet with you to find out your interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. This will help them understand what you want from your IV so they pick someone who is right for your needs.

What if I get a new social worker or move somewhere else?

Children and young people in care often experience lots of change in their lives, such as moving foster or residential home, or their social workers changing.

An IV is a reliable adult friend who you can talk to, trust and have new experiences with. IVs often stay in your life for a long period of time, in some cases many years.

Your IV will still be there for you when you move placements and if your social worker changes – this will help to provide you with a stable, trusting relationship that can make a real difference to your life.

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