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The National Independent Visitors Conference

“She made me forget about being in care and brought me up on my down days”

The role of the Independent Visitor
The role of the independent visitor (IV) was first introduced as a statutory service in the Children Act 1989.  An IV is a volunteer who doesn’t work for social care services, and is there to visit and befriend the child.  The IV will endeavour to become and remain a consistent adult in the child’s life who doesn’t change when placements or social workers change and will at all times stay child focussed.  Legislation states that a local authority has to appoint an IV for any child they are looking after, if they feel it would be in the child’s best interests.

The National IV Development Project
The project launched in March 2014 with the aim to raise awareness of the role of the IV, and introduce a set of national quality standards.  The project is funded by the Tudor Trust and is hosted by Barnardo’s.  The project has completed a Freedom of Information data request to all local authorities in England and now understands that just 3.2% of looked after children currently have access to an independent visitor.  The project aims to increase awareness and access to IV services.

The National IV Conference Jan 2016
On 26 January 2016 the project held The National IV Conference in London.  130 people attended from across England and Wales including voluntary sector, local authorities, Department for Education, Ofsted, young people and volunteer IVs.  The conference launched the National IV Standards and called on voluntary sector organisations and DfE to endorse the standards to improve consistency and access to IV for children in care.  We celebrated the invaluable relationships of volunteer IVs and their young people, including ‘Match of the Year’ who have known each other for 10 years, travelling long distances to stay in touch. 

 Key findings

  • There are around 2,200 children currently matched with an IV – 2% of the total looked after children population.
  • There are currently over 1000 children on a waiting list for an IV; the data shows over two thirds of local authorities have a waiting list.
  • 8 Local Authorities in England responded that they do not have an IV service.
  • 40% of matches have known each other for at least 2 years

Resources available

  • Regional IV Network Groups across England and Wales – meetings for professionals to network and share best practice.
  • National IV Database – A database with contact details for IV services across all local authorities in England and Wales.
  • ‘Huddle’ online network – online collaborative workspace for IV Coordinators, sharing resources and discussion forums
  • Training, workshops & events – events held throughout the year bringing services together to share practice, network, and raise the profile of IV
  • National IV Standards – a set of standards and best practice toolkit for IV services to use and work towards
  • National IV Data Report click here

Contact details:
Alexandra Gordon (Team Manager)
12 Church Hill, London, E17 3AG
0208 509 3432 / 07860 917057
Follow us @IV_Network



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