Reconstruct UK

As an organisation we are committed to the services we provide and are proud of the work which is delivered. We value your contribution to our working ethos and hope you will find your experience as part of Reconstruct rewarding.

welcome to reconstruct

Reconstruct warmly welcomes you to the team! We are so pleased that you will be volunteering with us and would like to thank you for giving up your time to befriend a young person in care.

As part of your role as an Independent Visitor you are required to read this handbook. The handbook has been put together to help support you to plan for your role as an Independent Visitor. It includes our Policies and Procedures and information and documentation to guide you. Please take some time to familiarise yourself with the content.

You have/will have signed a volunteering agreement with Reconstruct and have agreed to follow the policies and procedures set out in this handbook.

If you have any questions or want to speak to a member of the team, please see our IV Coordinator Contacts for details.

1. about reconstruct

Reconstruct were established in 1990 to provide support for vulnerable children and adults. We have always maintained both our passion for improving services for children and young people, and our commitment to having a positive impact on their lives. Our ethos is to work alongside children and young people as well as professionals, to bring about change and improve outcomes to make a difference to a child or young person’s life. With the child at the forefront of all that we do, we can provide Participation, Independent Visiting (IV), Independent Advocacy and mentoring services to many vulnerable children and young people. 

Direct Services Principles

  • We value our Independence
  • We are child centred and child led at all times
  • We are an equal opportunities employer with a diverse workforce enabling children from all backgrounds to have their voices heard.
  • We work collaboratively with relevant partners to deliver an outstanding service to our children and young people
  • We empower children and young people to have a voice, and inform them of their rights 

Independence statement

Reconstruct stand independently from social services. We strive to ensure that each child/young person has a voice and is able to feel empowered, to build resilience, and develop confidence in themselves through receiving support from our service. Our independence is fundamental to our development as an organisation, and to the forging of strong partnerships with both Statutory and Non-Statutory organisations.

Service performance is monitored and evaluated by seeking feedback from children and young people, professionals, advocates, parents/carers, and staff.

Any complaints or conflicts are promptly addressed.

2. The Independent Visitor Role and Visits

As an Independent Visitor (IV) you are independent of Social Services. Your role is to establish a supportive and long term relationship with a young person built on trust. You will guide and listen to a young person, helping to build their self-esteem and develop new interests and skills over time.

Your role as an Independent Visitor is:

  • To befriend a young person and take them out on monthly visits.
  • To provide them with someone to talk to who is independent of the local authority.
  • To be a good role model who builds a positive relationship with a young person.
  • To help build trust by being a consistent adult presence in a young person’s life.
  • To spend one on one time with them away from the placement.
  • To help build confidence and introduce a young person to new activities and widen their interests.
  • To help build self-esteem and resilience over time by developing skills and hobbies.

IV Support

You will be matched with a child or young person, based on your experiences, shared interests, and personality. Whilst you and the young person you are matched with will visit on a one-to-one basis, your coordinator is there to support you every step of the way and guide you during your time as an IV.

Your Coordinator will provide you with regular supervision, feedback, and an annual appraisal. Reconstruct as an organisation will also provide peer support sessions and further training opportunities where needed, whether these be in-house, local authority or independently run courses.

You have agreed to visit the young person you are matched with once a month, as per the YP/IV agreement. Visits should roughly last between 2-3 hours (This is a guide and may vary depending on the activity or the needs of the young person).

Expenses

Please note:

  • IVs should not be out of pocket as a result of the role
  • A £15 budget is provided to cover the cost of activities/refreshments for both you and the young person on each visit
  • All travel expenses are reimbursed, i.e. mileage, bus tickets, parking
  • An additional £10 is provided for you to buy the young person a birthday gift and and an further £10 for a Christmas gift/other religious festival. Please do not exceed the £10 limit.

Arranging Your Visits

Initially, you will be introduced to the young person you will be matched with by your IV coordinator. Your coordinator will then give you the Foster Carer or Key worker’s number so you can make monthly arrangements to meet up moving forward. Once you have arranged a date for your visit, we would advise that you contact the Foster Carer or Key Worker the day before your visit is due to take place to confirm the details.

Please note:

  • Make sure plans are clear to all parties, i.e. pick up/drop off times, type of activity
  • Avoid cancelling plans at the last minute, unless absolutely necessary
  • Agree jointly with the young person how you will spend your time together and what activities you will do – you may want to provide the young person with options to choose from or make a wish-list together

First Visit

This initial visit will lay down the boundaries for your ongoing visits. It is important to be open and honest about your relationship with the young person:

  • How often will you visit
  • Whether you will have contact between visits
  • How you will plan your visits together
  • What kind of activities you will go on
  • What happens afterwards

The young person may also want to know who you are going to tell about your time together. This is an opportunity to set boundaries with your young person. On the first visit the Independent Visitor and young person will be given an IV/YP Agreement to sign which helps establish boundaries and expectations, e.g. confidentiality – letting them know when and with whom information may need to be shared. Once you have both signed the agreement please send this across to you coordinator so they can file it.

We have put together some guidance for your monthly visits to help you understand what needs to be done before, during and after a visit takes place. This is to ensure that any risks are minimized, and we have done everything we can to keep you and the young person with whom you are matched safe. It is important to use the checklist below.

Before a visit

Planning for your visits is important and you should set some time aside each month to consider the activity you will be doing and making the relevant arrangements. Do engage the young person in the planning of the visits. If you are ever in any doubt or need further clarification on a visit idea, then please always contact your coordinator who is there to guide and support.

When planning a visit, you will need to carry out the following checks beforehand:

  • Carry your Reconstruct ID card with you at all times – The ID card contains the emergency duty number for your Local authority too
  • Ensure that Reconstruct has your most up to date contact details – and those of your emergency contact.
  • Prior to planning an activity, please check whether it is permitted by checking the ‘Insured Activities’ list.
  • Check if activity needs to be pre booked.
  • Check if a consent form or waiver is required e.g., activities like trampolining ask for a waiver to be signed. This needs to be completed by the young person’s carer or social worker only. IVs are not allowed to sign consent forms for young people.
  • Any activity that poses an additional risk needs to be agreed by your coordinator prior to arranging with your young person. Your coordinator may need to carry out a risk assessment and gain consent from the foster carer or social worker prior to an activity taking place (please allow 4 weeks’ notice).
  • Prior to the visit, all routes need to be pre-planned and checked for any road/rail works which may affect the route. A contingency route should always be planned in the event of emergency work.
  • You need to be aware of any conditions that may affect your visit, such as weather conditions or busy times of day.
  • You will need to arrange appropriate clothing for both you and the young person. Check in with the foster carer, does the young person need wet weather gear/sun hats/sun cream/bottle of water/appropriate footwear?
  • Independent Visitors cannot buy or apply sun cream for a young person. Sun cream needs to be applied by the carer prior to the visit, or the young person can bring it themselves and apply it to themselves.
  • Consider any allergies/dietary requirements that the young person has (this will be shared with you at point of matching).
  • If you are travelling together to an activity, by bike or public transport, a check point, en route, needs to be established should you or the young person become separated (in the case of separation you and the young person must attempt to meet at the check point first).
  • When travelling by car please make sure smaller children use suitable boosters/car seats (these should be provided by the carer), and older/larger children always wear seatbelts. Children must normally use a child car seat until they are 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.
  • Check if car seat /booster required or can be borrowed from foster carer or speak to your coordinator if one is needed but not available.

Paperwork

Before a visit it is important that both the foster carer and young person know the following:

  • The date the visit will take place
  • The planned activity, including pick up and drop off times.
  • It is important that you stick to the arrangements you have made. However, we understand that some circumstances may be out of your control. If plans change, for any reason, the foster carer or guardian needs to be informed.
  • All visits should be face to face, however, occasionally there may be times when a virtual visit may be necessary (e.g., Teams, Zoom, Face Time, WhatsApp call). Please speak to your coordinator before organising a virtual meeting with a young person as permission needs to be obtained and guidance sought.

During the visit

We want to ensure that both you and the young person you are matched with have the best time on your visits together, but we also need to make sure that you are doing this safely, therefore the following guidance must be adhered to during visits:

  • Check phone battery is fully charged before setting off and where possible take with you a charger, or supplementary power bank. Make sure you have relevant numbers stored in your phone (foster carer/guardian, Reconstruct, EDT)
  • When travelling on public transport, or when walking, you and your young person need to stay in sight of one another, this needs to be explained to the young person prior to the visit taking place.
  • If you undertake a bike ride with a young person, please ensure that you only take them on marked cycle paths, or designated cycling areas. Do not take a young person on the main roads. Please see Insured Activity guidance.
  • Ensure that you keep to public spaces – do not visit your own home or that of anyone else.
  • When you arrive at the activity you will need to give a briefing to the young person and agree some boundaries, along with a meeting point, should you become separated.
  • Young people need to be supervised throughout the entire activity and should not be allowed to wander off alone at any time, including when they need to use the toilet. Depending on their capability, you should go with them and wait outside the cubicle or wait outside the entrance
  • Should the young person become separated from you during the visit and after few minutes the young person cannot be found you must inform the carer and call the local Emergency Duty Team (EDT) to report the young person missing.
  • Should the weather change whilst out on the activity you will need to ascertain if the weather adversely affects the activity and increases risk. Should this be the case the activity will need to be suspended or, where there is no improvement, terminated.
  • If the young person becomes ill on the visit you will need to return them home immediately. Independent Visitors are not allowed to administer or buy medication for a young person e.g., paracetamol.
  • Should a young person need to take any medication this will need to be self-administered, following agreement by carer, except in the case of emergency. Diabetes or epi pen following agreement obtained in advance from the carer. This will be discussed with you at point of matching.
  • Do change plans or end the visit if what you are doing feels risky or unsafe but do let the foster carer know.
  • Do not take pictures of the young person.
  • Should you need to call the emergency services for any reason, the EDT must be informed (number on back of ID card), along with the foster carer and your coordinator when safe to do so.
  • If the young person has been collected from home for their visit you will need to return the young person back to this address, unless agreed in advance with the foster carer.
  • After the visit, if the foster carer or guardian is not home when you return with a young person, you should not leave the young person unattended. You must first phone and speak with the foster and ascertain when the carer will return and if the young person is able to safely remain at the property alone for a short time. If you are unable to reach the carer, contact the EDT and if in office hours your coordinator and make them aware.
  • If an accident occurs on the visit, you need to make your coordinator aware within 48 hours.

Longer Visits or Activities that require permission

  • Visits should be undertaken in your local area, to support the young person to feel confident in their local community. We understand that sometimes activities will take you further afield. We recommend if an activity is over 20 miles away that you contact your coordinator to discuss this.
  • This is not to say that visits beyond 20 miles cannot take place, we just need to make sure that we have done thorough checks before you can go. This includes making sure that everyone is safe, and also considering the cost implications.
  • The same also applies if you wish to take a young person to an activity which requires permission (refer to the Insured Activity list). To avoid disappointment, always ensure you have agreed with your IV Coordinator that an activity can take place before confirming with the young person that you can go. Do not make any promises to the young person.
  • We ask that you let us know 4 weeks prior to the planned visit taking place to give us enough time to make sure all checks have been completed. If the activity falls under the “Amber -needing permission list” this will need to be cleared with your coordinator prior to the activity taking place.
  • Your coordinator may also need to carry out a risk assessment prior to the activity taking place.
  • Please check that venues have a minimum of £5 million pounds public liability insurance cover (activity cannot take place if insurance cover is less than this).
  • Call the venue prior to the visit, if it is not obvious from the website, to ascertain whether a consent form is needed and inform your coordinator who will advise you.
  • If a consent form needs to be completed, this will need to be signed by the foster carer/carer/guardian or social worker prior to the visit, IVs are not allowed to sign consent forms for young people.
  • Where possible ensure that a qualified instructor is present throughout the activity.
  • If a long distance is being travelled, over 20 mile radius, a contingency plan should be agreed in the case of a medical emergency, for example, the foster carer/guardian will need to be able collect the young person if sickness prevents the activity taking place or prohibits travel back.

After your visit 

After your visits you will be required to complete and submit 2 forms: our online recording form and expense form. These forms help to safeguard you, keep us updated of what you have undertaken with the young person, and enable us to report and share feedback to the local authority who have commissioned us to undertake this work. 

 

Before completing the forms, take a moment to reflect about the visit; what went well, what could have happened differently and what, if anything, will you change for the next visit.

             All expense claims should be submitted by the 30th of each month and will be due for payment on the 14th of each month (This can take up to 3 days to reach you bank.

                Any submissions sent after the 30th of each month will not be paid until the following month.

                Any claims without supporting receipts may not be paid. Please ensure clear, legible images of all receipts are emailed along with your expense form. Receipts can be scanned or photographed.

                Reconstruct is committed to safeguarding young people, volunteers, and staff. It is important that your recording form and expense are completed after each visit and submitted monthly. These forms safeguard you and the young person as they provide a written record of your visit. They also enable your coordinator to guide you and support you when issues arise.

                If we do not have a copy of the recordings and expenses, we are not aware of what has taken place on your visit for that month. This puts you, as an individual, the young person, and us, an organisation at risk.

                Furthermore, as an organisation we are accountable to the local authority and on a quarterly basis we have to report the number of hours Independent Visitors spend with young people. We also provide commissioners with an overview of the service and without this information from you, we are unable to do this.

                Should you fail to submit the required forms we reserve the right to immediately stop the match from continuing. Please note should you submit your expenses and not your recordings you will not be paid. We require both the recordings and expenses to be submitted.

                If there is anything that happened on the visit which you would like to talk to someone about, please email or call your coordinator to discuss. We advise to email as soon as possible as it may be something we need to know about.

                If for any reason you need to report a safeguarding concern, out of hours (between 5pm -9am, or at weekend), please call the local authority Emergency Duty Team (EDT), the number is on the back of your ID card.

Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the company’s Safeguarding policy and procedure here:  https://reconstruct.co.uk/policies-and-procedures 

 

3. Independent Visitor Role Framework

Boundaries

As an Independent Visitor you are in a position of responsibility and trust. You should always be a positive role model and avoid inappropriate behaviour, including that which might be misinterpreted by others. During your training you were introduced to the boundaries of the IV role including safeguarding and confidentiality.

Please note the following:

  • You must not take a young person to your home or place of work or let them know your address
  • You must not take pets on visits with the young person
  • You must not make friends or connections on social media
  • You must not take pictures of a young person on your phone
  • Communications with young people should be clear and transparent – as outlined and agreed in IV-YP Agreement
  • You must not disclose to the young person details that will identify your home address, your family members or any other personal details.
  • You must not make informal arrangements (i.e. extra visits or paid work) with the young person’s foster carer, visits should take place monthly unless agreement has been given by the IV coordinator in consultation with the social worker.
  • For further information please refer to the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ as covered in the training.

Physical Contact

You may need to offer comfort to a distressed young person or there may be times when physical contact is appropriate and has been agreed prior to the visits such as:

  • Holding a 7 or 8 year olds hand to cross the road, or walk down the street – if they are OK with this
  • Returning a hug at the end of a visit – in view of the carers

There also may be occasions where physical intervention is required to prevent injury to the young person or others, such as:

  • A hand on the back to steer them away from danger
  • Pulling them back to avoid them stepping into the road

Any physical contact on visits should be noted in your visit recording form and where necessary reported directly to your IV co-ordinator after the visit.

Lone Working

On visits you will be spending one-to-one time with the young person with whom you are matched. Your safety and the safety of the young person you support is paramount.

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 it is the employer’s duty to assess
risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or minimise risk. 

We would remind you to follow the ‘10 Personal Safety Guidelines’ when planning and carrying out your visits.

Please note:

  • Do not purchase/administer any medication. If the young person is unwell you will need to take them home
  • Make sure there is a plan of action and agreed meeting point should you become separated
  • You should have all the relevant contact numbers in your phone, foster carer, Reconstruct Office, Emergency Duty Team number
  • Does the young person need to bring wet weather gear/sun hat sun lotion, ask foster carer to provide

Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the
company’s Lone working policy and procedure here:  
https://reconstruct.co.uk/policies-and-procedures 

Confidentiality

Independent visitors offer young people ‘agency confidentiality’. The agreement is between the young person and Reconstruct as an organisation. Private information can be discussed within supervision sessions with your IV coordinator and when you seek advice at other times but may not be passed on to the local authority, parents, carers and other young people unless the young person, another young person or member of the public was at risk of significant harm.

Please note:

  • You cannot keep secrets for or with a young person
  • You cannot discuss details about the young person with family, friends, work colleagues, or other independent visitors
  • You can support the young person to share information with their permission following a discussion with your coordinator
  • In the unusual event that you are contacted by the young person’s social worker, please do not share information and refer them to your IV coordinator, except in the case of an emergency
Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the company’s confidentiality policy and procedure here:  https://reconstruct.co.uk/policies-and-procedures


Keeping information safe/storing information 

Reconstruct works within the General Data Protection Regulations and adheres to the principles of the Data Protection Act. As a Mentor it is important to understand that you have access to sensitive, identifying and confidential information and follow guidance. For further information see the Data Protection Policy.

Please note:

·       Written correspondence should not mention the young person’s name and instead initials should be used.

·   You will be given a reference number for the young person to be used on paperwork you submit. This must not be shared outside of Reconstruct.

·       Any documents stored on a personal device relating to the young person should be password protected.

 

Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the company’s Data Protection policy and procedure here:  https://reconstruct.co.uk/policies-and-procedures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. safeguarding & child protection

As part of your onboarding training you will have completed Safeguarding Training so will understand that Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility and involves protecting children and young people from harm and promoting their welfare. Child protection forms part of the safeguarding process and protects individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. 

Reconstruct has clear policies and procedures in place to ensure safeguarding issues are identified and acted upon. Advocates are supported to understand the different forms of abuse and neglect, issues relating to confidentiality and what to do if they suspect a child/young person is at risk.

Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the company’s Safeguarding policy  and procedure here:  https://reconstruct.co.uk/policies-and-procedures 

The safeguarding policy and procedure covers:

  • Safeguarding principles
  • Definitions of abuse and neglect
  • If a child / young person discloses a safeguarding concern to you
  • Company procedure reporting a Safeguarding Concern
  • Good practice guide

IV should keep all details of conversations between themselves young person private and confidential. If the young person does not want their parents, carers or social worker to know certain details about them, then these wishes should be upheld by the IV.

The only exception to sharing information is when there is a serious risk of harm to the child’s safety. Where there are genuine safeguarding concerns for a young person, the IV should look to disclose information as per Reconstructs Safeguarding policy.

When you are out on your visits, if you know that the young person might be at immediate risk if they return home, you must do the following:

  • Contact your Co-ordinator (in office hours) or a member of the Reconstruct Team
  • If the visit is taking place outside office hours you will need to call your Local Authority Emergency Duty Team – the number is on your ID card

Safeguarding Responsibilities

As part of our safer recruitment practice and as outlined in your ‘Volunteer Agreement’ you:

  • Will be required to renew your DBS certificate every three years and you must tell us immediately if you are convicted of an offence
  • Will be expected to complete Safeguarding Refresher training every 2 years
  • Must provide us with copies of your MOT and car insurance documents each time they are renewed
  • Must inform us of any change of address, contact details, personal circumstances, any convictions, or any investigations that are ongoing or been upheld/not upheld that would impact this role. E.g. Safeguarding concerns

 

Other concerns

We recognise that Volunteers may sometimes be in a position where they feel something is wrong and have concerns about the organisation or a member of staff within it. It is very important that we can identify and act quickly to rectify any malpractice.

Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the company’s Whistleblowing policy and procedure here:  https://reconstruct.co.uk/policies-and-procedures 

 

 

 

5. language that cares

When speaking to the children and young people we need you to think about the language that we use connected to them.

We encourage all staff, IV’s and Advocates to use ‘Language That Cares’. This is an initiative started by children / young people and the voluntary sector and has been promoted within some social services. The aim is to change the language of the care system, Language is a powerful tool for communication but sometimes the way that it is used in social care creates stigma and barriers for understanding. Language is power, and we want children and young people to feel empowered in their care experience.

This is not about right and wrong words as such, although as you will see some words such as LAC or describing children as placements, are not considered helpful. Language That Cares is more about intention, being mindful, considering the impact and listening to children and young people and taking their lead in the words they use about themselves and their situation.

Please refer to the links below. We suggest taking a look at them all to understand the full context of Language That Cares.

Care4Us Council (barnsley.gov.uk)

TACT-Language-that-cares-2019_online.pdf (tactcare.org.uk)

https://www.bps.org.uk/psychologist/changing-language-care

BBC Radio 4 – Radio 4 in Four – Othering: how words can exclude people

We hope you enjoy your time volunteering with Reconstruct. If at any time you have any concerns or queries, please contact your IV coordinator who is there to support you in your role.

If you want to speak to a member of the team, please e-mail or telephone as follows:

Tel: 0800 0209 858

Bristol coordinator – visiting@reconstruct.co.uk

Milton Keynes coordinator mkvisiting@reconstruct.co.uk

Brighter Futures coordinator – readingvisiting@reconstruct.co.uk

South Gloucester coordinator – sgvisiting@reconstruct.co.uk

6. Making a complaint

To deliver a good service we need to listen and welcome your feedback, whether that be a comment, complaint or a compliment.


Reconstruct have an easily understood, well-publicised and accessible procedure to enable individuals and their relatives or representative to make a complaint or compliment and for complaints to be investigated.

 

Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with the company’s complaints policy and procedure here:  https://reconstruct.co.uk/policies-and-procedures.

 

7. Contact details

If at any time you have any concerns or queries, contact your IV Co-ordinator who is there to support you in your role.

If you want to speak to a member of the team, please e-mail or telephone as follows:

 Tel: 0800 0209 858

                Bristol coordinators – visiting@reconstruct.co.uk  

 

                Milton Keynes coordinator mkvisiting@reconstruct.co.uk    

 

                Brighter Futures coordinator – readingvisiting@reconstruct.co.uk

 

                South Gloucester coordinators – sgvisiting@reconstruct.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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