Meet our Family Support Workers, Jodie & Olivia!
We talked volunteering, skill development and the Independent Visitor role!
Olivia & Jodie joined our charity as Family Support Workers at the end of 2022. They first became involved with Changing Futures North East as volunteer Independent Visitors. Jodie supports a 12 year old boy and Olivia is an IV for a 15 year old girl, they will continue to volunteer whilst working on the IV project-amazing! We are thrilled to have their real hands on of the IV project brought to the team.
We sat down with them and talked all things about the IV role!
Why Did You Decide to Become an IV?
Jodie-I’ve been an IV for about a year and a half. There were 2 reasons why I wanted to be an IV. 1- I wanted to do something with kids, I knew I could help but I wasn’t sure how. The other aspect was that this role was quite niche to the other volunteering roles available. Generally when helping out you tend to find you get responsibilities such as a bit of admin or helping set up for groups. Whereas being an IV you're actually physically doing something with children which I thought was really good.
Olivia-I’ve been doing the IV role coming up to a year. I graduated from uni mid pandemic and I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do, I didn’t know what I wanted my career path to be. So I thought to fill the time between finishing uni and feeling a bit lost I would volunteer. I volunteer at the food bank and as an IV. I now know that eventually I would like to go into social worker so this role is perfect. Like Jodie I’d never heard of a role like this before, it was not something I’d ever seen anywhere else offer. It seemed like something I could manage just working 1:1 on with a child.
What Do You Do On Your IV Visits?
Jodie- We do all sorts! We do the general thing like the cinema and the park but his favorite thing to do is to just be out and running around. One of the things my match recently requested was that we spend time out together longer, so we set aside a day and we went to Tees Barrage and took a camping stove. We made hot chocolate and noodles. We did the the hill walk and then we just sat and watched the river whilst having a chat. Stuff like that he loves, when he got home he told his foster carers straight away and they keep telling me it's all he talks about. That’s a fave visit for me.
Olivia-So we’ve done a few different things like bowling and going to the metro centre, things like that. Most of the time it's having a catch up with a Starbucks or at a restaurant, we go out for food. But I always enjoy it , sitting down and having a chat, she has quite a lot going on at the moment so it's important we get that catch up.
Jodie- I get the impression from him, that a lot of things we do are activities he wouldn’t normally get to do. He gets really excited that he is able to tell his friends I’ve been bowling or I’ve been to the cinema. When I took him bowling for his birthday and we got the special birthday bowling lane, he’d never done it before and he was so excited he was able to tell his friends that he was doing the things that they get to do. Things that his friends don’t think twice about. These things to him are a big deal.
What Skills Have You Developed From Being an IV?
Jodie -I think when you learn all these things at University and it's all the theory side of it, volunteering lets you put it into practice. So for example you could go out on 1 visit and it will be just general chat about their interests and then the next visit it can be much different. Something might be worrying them and you have to put it into practice what you’ve learned.
Olivia- For me it was definitely confidence. A few years ago while I was at university I would not have been able to do this, I wouldn't have been here. I was fine with my fiends but I was so shy, the thought of having to one day have to go apply for graduate jobs would fill me with dread. Knowing I was the adult in the situation when I was out on a visit with my young person and that I had to be the one who led the conversations, it has just boosted my confidence so much. Having this confidence has meant I can bring that skill into work with me and be able to talk to anyone.
What Would You Say To Someone Who Was Thinking About Doing The Role?
Olivia- I would definitely say go for it! This is going to sound so cliché but it is so rewarding. When I get home from a visit with my young person and I reflect back on what we’ve spoken about and I can see her opening up more with every time we see each other. I feel like I can see the progress and that’s what I find rewarding. Just go for it, just go to the training and put yourself out there. It’s great experience for people who want that social care/ social work experience. It's exactly what those people should be doing. You're getting to make a difference, build a relationship with a young person , do activities and it's all paid for through CFNE.
Jodie-Absolutely, just squeeze it in! Do it for yourself, do it for your experience and building your CV for the future. But absolutely do it for the young people too. You both have such a great time.
Olivia- I think it’s important people know that the costs of these activities are all reimbursed. I knew that before I applied through reading about the role but some people don’t. Some people reading this might think I can’t afford to do it, but you're not paying it. All the support is their both financially and then there is me and Jodie here to help with everything else.
Jodie-I think it's important for people to know that you are matched up with a young person based on your shared interests. It’s tailored to your skillset and interests, it is about the children's experience but it is equally about the volunteers too. You will be matched with someone we know you would get on with, it’s not just about shoving 2 random people together, we know they are going to get along.