Hi, I’m Anne, I’m 53, a part-time accountant and Independent Visitor! I’ve always had a busy home with having 4 children myself. Our house was always the one their friends congregated too. There were always extra snacks in the cupboard and pull-out beds ready for the endless sleepovers that come with teenage years. I loved the chaos and the endless chatter. I found it really tough when my youngest left for university! We went from a full house to just me, my partner and Zuko our black lab.
The empty nest feeling started to creep in and led me to look for jobs working with children. As I’ve been an accountant for the last 30 years, I didn’t have a lot of the experience that jobs required. Don’t get me wrong I love my job but I’ve always wanted to work with young people. Going back to university didn’t appeal to me so I started looking at volunteering opportunities.
When I spotted an ad on Facebook for Independent Visitors in Darlington – my local area, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to gain some experience, learn something new and meet a new little friend along the way. Training really opened my eyes to some of the adverse experiences young people can face and how important being a stable friend for them can be. When I was told there was a young person living with foster carers a few minutes’ drive from me, I was definitely keen to learn more. George was only 8 at the time, but as soon as my volunteer coordinator said how much he loves dogs, I knew me and Zuko would be great friends for him.
We love a Saturday morning walk around South Park, accompanied by a picnic in summer or a hot chocolate in the winter! George has been such a pleasure to spend time with and I’ve really appreciated getting to things my children are now too old to enjoy.
Getting to know George and to be his friend has been exactly what I was looking for. When I think about the future, I no longer see myself working with children. Me and my partner have had lots of conversations and have started looking at options for possibly becoming foster carers ourselves. George has taught me just how important stability, patience and understanding can be for our young people. The thought I could give that to somebody long-term is equal parts daunting and exciting!