|A recruitment drive to get more people involved in supporting children and families on the Island has been launched by the Isle of Wight Council.
Volunteers already play a crucial role in supporting young offenders and children in care and now the local authority wants to build on that success.
It is highlighting how Islanders can add extra value to the great work being carried out by staff in Children’s Services by getting involved in new volunteering opportunities.
Chris Martin, volunteer coordinator, said younger people and their families often responded positively to a more informal approach from volunteers, who have lived experiences and were giving their time for free.
He said: “It has been a fascinating and inspiring process for me as a relatively new Island resident to develop this scheme.
“We are trying to be innovative in the ways we reach out to volunteers of all ages and will be co-working with our partner agencies.
“This could be a great opportunity for someone coming out of further education or equally for retired residents who wish to share their wisdom and lived experiences.
“There is no ‘typical volunteer’ — we are looking for people aged 18 or over who have a passion for supporting people through and/or out of a rough patch in their lives.”
Volunteers will be supported through a comprehensive recruitment process, will receive a DBS (police) check free of charge, and will undergo accredited training and supervision to support them in their roles.
New volunteering opportunities include mentoring schemes for care experienced young people and young offenders, family support roles and supporting delivery of fun activities and participation events.
Another scheme will involve volunteers leading on “Walk and Talk” groups where members can connect with nature and chat informally about what is going on in their lives.
Robert, a current volunteer, said: “Volunteering for the Youth Offending Team helps keep me in touch with the younger generation and understand some of the issues they face.
“By guiding, supporting and generally encouraging the young people we meet, it gives us a degree of satisfaction that we are helping them reflect on their lives and avoid re-offending.
“The best feedback was when a young person, on whose panels I had participated, noticed me in a supermarket queue; rather than ignore me he called out that he had got a job as a kitchen porter, and was clearly pleased with himself for doing so.”
For more information about the scheme, or to apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org