We are saying goodbye and a massive ‘Thank you’ to David Warren who has been volunteering with the Independent visiting scheme for 4 ½ years. He has been committed to volunteering on a regular basis and within this period he has been matched with 2 young people.
David was first matched in July 2013 with a 16 year old male with mild learning disabilities. David supported his young person to participate in new activities, encouraged him to commit to his work placement and to stay active. As a keen cyclist David would take his young person to the park and they would cycle together. They also had a session which entailed David giving him a bicycle to fix. Their visits included London transport museum, sightseeing trips into London, cycling, parks and restaurants. We ended the match when the young person turned 19 yrs old. Fortunately David was willing to be matched with another young person.
We then matched him with a 12 year old who when first meeting David was excited as the young person loves Dr Who and would always comment that he looks like Jon Pertwee. David was ill last year and took a break from visiting for a few months. When he recovered he asked to return as he wanted to continue volunteering. He is now in full-time employment as a teaching assistant for young adults with Learning disabilities. He feels that it is time to take a break from visiting and have a well deserved rest.
Why did you apply to become an independent visitor?
I had previous experience of volunteering with young people years ago and wanted to gain more current experience. I heard about the scheme from a friend and she informed me that I should apply for the role. The scheme was in my local borough so I decided to apply for the role.
Did you know what to expect?
I understood the role and what to expect through training. When I met my first young person it was awkward at the Introduction meeting. We met at his house with the foster carer and IV coordinator. I did not know what to expect at this meeting but we spoke about activities he would like to do and planned dates for the first few visits.
Did you find it hard to engage with the young people you were matched with and find activities to do?
The two young people I was matched with opened up immediately. I was able to find common ground with both young people. The activities were not difficult to find. We tried and tested a number of activities. With the 16 year old he loved buses and knew all the bus routes for various different buses in London, we spent time cycling in the park, cinema and restaurants. I arranged a visit to London Transport museum open day and my young person got the opportunity to sit at the driver seat of the bus which he enjoyed. With my current 12 yr old he enjoys the outdoor activities, walks, parks and forests. He is a bit more active. He enjoyed the trip to London when we visited
What advice would you give to those considering volunteering as a visitor?
Probably to be yourself! You do need to be non-judgmental and listen to the young person. But ultimately I was myself. I listened to the young people and was committed to volunteering on a regular basis. I enjoyed my 4 ½ years with the scheme and maybe I will come back one day.