Can you spare a few hours a month to befriend a young person in care? If you want to volunteer, have fun and make a real difference in a young person’s life then become a buddy with us.

child giving a high five with football net in background

Who is a buddy? 

A buddy (or independent visitor) is a trained volunteer who visits and befriends a young person in care (usually aged between 8 and 18 years old). The aim of the role is to be a positive adult role model and provide 1-2-1 time and space for a young person to talk, feel listened to, valued, and have some fun. 

Buddies meet with their young person for 2-3 hours once a month and spend time together. They do activities, go out for food, talk, and generally have an enjoyable time. 

We ask for a minimum commitment of two years for this volunteering role as buddies play an important part in their young person’s development. This consistent friendship helps the young person to build self-esteem, confidence, and resilience. 

Examples of activities buddies do with their young person are:

  • Go to the cinema, bowling, ice skating
  • Go to the park, dog walking, play football
  • Visit a local museum, gallery, theatre
  • Go to a restaurant or café

It all depends on what the young person would like to do. We do aim to match you with a young person who has similar interests and hobbies to you.

A set budget and travel expenses are provided per calendar month.

Can I volunteer?

We are looking for positive, reliable, and enthusiastic volunteers from all different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. You do not need any specific qualifications or experience to volunteer, just an interest in the development and welfare of children. Full training is provided for this role with continual support from your designated coordinator.

To become a buddy, you need to be:

  • 18 years or older.
  • Able to relate well to young people and have a genuine interest in their welfare.
  • Aware of and sensitive to the impact of race, culture, language, religion, ability, gender or sexual orientation and to challenge prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behaviour.
  • Willing to undergo background checks, an enhanced DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service) and provide two references.
    • If you have lived in the UK for less than five years, you are required to obtain an overseas criminal record check(s) from the overseas country/countries you have resided in, in the last five years.
    • If ALL of the overseas addresses are UK HM Forces barracks addresses then overseas check(s) DO NOT need to be undertaken as these will be obtained as part of our DBS application. 
  • Able to attend an informal interview and complete a full day of initial training.
  • Committed to meeting your young person once a month for a minimum of two years.
  • Able to develop a trusting relationship with your young person which will require patience and understanding. This can be a slow process.
  • Willing to share any child protection concerns that arise which are beyond the realms of confidentiality.
  • Complete a brief visit recording form and expenses form after each visit.
  • Please note: The independence of the Buddy Scheme is vital, therefore anyone who work's for Doncaster Children's Services or as a local councillor unfortunately cannot be a volunteer. This also applies to partners and spouses of these staff members. 

What support will I receive?

You will receive:

  • Full initial training which will equip you with all the knowledge and confidence needed for the role. 
  • Ongoing one-to-one support from your coordinator throughout your time volunteering.
  • Reimbursement for all agreed expenses to cover the cost of activities, travel and food. 
  • The opportunity to attend additional training throughout your time as a volunteer.
  • A volunteer handbook with handy tips to support you in your role.
  • Access to 24/7 support if you are worried about your young person. 
  • Quarterly face-to-face support meetings with your coordinator.
  • Optional quarterly team meetings with other buddies. 

How will I be matched to a young person?

You will be invited to an informal interview so that we can get to know you, your interests, and hobbies and what you would like us to consider when matching you with a young person. We will take into account how far you are able or willing to travel and if you are happy to use your own vehicle for transport. 

Testimonials from current volunteers:

“Becoming an independent visitor (buddy) is such a positive experience in my life. Over the last six years I have had the joy of seeing the young person grow and thrive, it is amazing! I’ve learnt so much from the young person and we now have a relationship that will probably last a lifetime. I also know I have made a difference in my young person’s life as she says so and for that alone, I want to keep doing it for as long as I can. Having the support from the coordinator makes the job easier and gives me the confidence to continue my work”. - volunteered for 6 years

“Satisfaction and pride in knowing that an Independent Visitor’s time and effort really do make a difference – measured in smiles and laughter.” - volunteered for 2 years

“It’s good to build up a relationship with young people and hopefully they learn to trust us enough to know we are trying to guide them on the right path and will always try our best to look out for them”. - volunteered for 18 months

"I enjoy being a volunteer because it is very rewarding. To see how much the young person appreciates it and to most likely be the only constant person in their lives as they change foster care, social worker, and schools." - volunteered for 6 months

How do I apply? 

If you are interested in becoming a buddy for a young person in care, or would like to learn more about the role then please contact the Independent Visitor Service on:

Phone: 01302 734414


Last updated: 15 November 2023 09:21:14

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