Frequently asked questions about being an IV
If you have questions not addressed here, contact us.
Ideally we encourage our independent visitors to meet with their young person every fortnight. However the young person may want to see their independent visitor every three weeks, or once a month. As a service we listen to the young person’s needs and let the young person decide the best time for them. With this in mind, the usual time to spend with the young person is around two hours every two weeks - however it can be longer, depending on yourself and the young person.
Children and young people in care can be let down and some have little stability within their lives. As an independent visitor your role is to be dependable and offer stability so we generally ask that you give at least two years. This sounds a lot but if you break this down into weeks the amount of time isn’t that much. The time you give to a young person is invaluable.
As part of the volunteering role, independent visitors are required to fill in a monthly return and expense form. This form helps us pay your out of pocket expenses and allows us to see how things are going. It is also a kind of supervision which helps us pick up on any issues that you may have and we will support you. If you struggle with paper work we will help you, all you need to do is ask!
The term CRB simply means Criminal Records Bureau. The CRB check helps us make informed decisions about recruitment to protect the vulnerable young people that we work with. The CRB check is confidential and under section 124 of the Police Act 1997. You have to complete a CRB check to become a volunteer with our service.
Volunteering will not affect your Incapacity Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance. If you receive Job Seekers Allowance, you have to actively look for paid work as well as volunteering, but the Job Centre should give you a bit more notice if they call you for an interview.
Any expenses you receive from us will not affect your benefits, as they are a refund of payments you have had to make.
The rules on who can volunteer from overseas are complex and sometimes contradictory. However, there are no restrictions on volunteers from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
To become a volunteer you don’t need to drive. If you do drive you should inform your insurer of your voluntary work. In 2011 the Association of British Insurers agreed that volunteering duties would be covered under motor insurance without an extra charge, but the policyholder must check with their Insurers to ensure that they are aware of their volunteering role. Check to see if your insurer has agreed (the insurer's name is written on the bottom of your certificate of motor insurance - it's not always the brand name of the company).
Volunteers are reimbursed for their out of pocket expenses. You should keep your receipts and hand them in every month. You can also claim for car/bike mileage incurred during your visit. Although we do pay expenses, we ask that you are sensible as we are a charity. You can ask your IV Co-ordinator for ideas on what to do without spending lots of money.
Studies have shown a link between volunteering and employability, in terms of new skills learned and increased confidence. Many people use volunteering to change their career and help others. Students also volunteer as this complements their qualifications and gives them some practical experience.