‘I feel like I’m doing something’: Volunteer details experience with foster children

Upset child sitting on stairs. Picture: GettyImages

Upset child sitting on stairs. Picture: GettyImages - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A woman has shared her experience as an independent visitor, a chance for everyday people to take children out foster care for a day.

Norfolk Programme Manager for Norfolk Independent Visitors and Norfolk SMS Mentoring, Stephanie Wals

Norfolk Programme Manager for Norfolk Independent Visitors and Norfolk SMS Mentoring, Stephanie Walsingham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Kaeren Logan-Smith, 60, from Acle, has been a volunteer for the Norfolk Independent Visitors since the beginning of the year.

After she found out about the service through her church, Mrs Logan-Smith began to look into volunteering.

Following rigorous checks by the organisation, she was matched with a 15-year-old from the Great Yarmouth area, who has already been in three different foster homes.

Mrs Logan-Smith said the teenager has learning difficulties and is not permitted to see their parents.

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"I brought my son up as a single parent, and I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to not have a parent," she said.

Following the death of her husband four years ago, she committed to becoming an independent visitor for two years.

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She said: "I sadly lost my husband so to commit to two years was nothing for me because nothing had happened in the four years since my husband died," she said.

As an independent visitor, she meets with the teenager on a monthly basis for a few hours each time, with the longest time spent together being six hours.

The mother-of-one said the pair go out for meals and listen to country music, while the teenager shares their issues and she gives advice.

"In summer we are going to go for a picnic, go for a walk on the prom and listen to the brass bands.

"We go out for meals in the social way, she can pick out what she wants to eat," she said.

As a volunteer, Mrs Logan-Smith is someone totally independent in their life, distinct from the professionals paid to support them. The children or young people can't contact them directly, but can get in touch with them through the service.

She said: "It is really worth while, I actually feel like I am doing something for her."

The organisation are searching for volunteers across the region, including Beccles, Bungay and Lowestoft.

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