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Sefton’s Volunteer Guidelines Welcome to the Independent Visiting and Advocacy Service. We hope you will enjoy your volunteering and find it a very fulfilling experience.

Ethos Sefton Council is committed to the use of volunteers to support the services it provides to children, families and vulnerable adults. The Council recognises the benefits of volunteering for the individual, the volunteer and the authority. The individual receives a service from someone who is not employed by Sefton’s Children, Schools and Families Directorate. Volunteers can spend time with an individual. They are there just for them or to deal just with their worries or concerns. Volunteers can provide services which are independent of the Council and can support individuals to have their voice heard. They can help young children with communication difficulties to express their views and wishes. They do not try to persuade them to accept someone else’s view. The individual can talk through issues openly and work out what they want to do and how they want to do it. Volunteering provides the opportunity for people to make a commitment to helping others within their community. It enables them to learn, develop or maintain skills, access training, education and employment and promote feelings of self worth. Many people who volunteer do so for its own rewards; a sense that they have given something back. Others use the opportunities created through volunteering to gain skills and experience to help them to enter caring professions. The Local Authority is able to meet its obligations to provide access to independent people for the most vulnerable members of the community. Sometimes people are anxious or distrustful of professionals and authority figures and engage more effectively with people from similar backgrounds to develop trust and a positive working relationship. The relationship between the authority and the volunteer is based on an understanding and acceptance of each other’s roles and responsibilities. Sefton Council is committed to promoting equality and diversity. All volunteers, whether delivering direct services or independent services must treat individuals and professionals with dignity and respect and adopt an anti-discriminatory approach to their work. E


Volunteer Agreements It is helpful for both you and the Independent Visitor scheme co-ordinator to agree certain details about your volunteering at the outset, and you will be asked to sign a Volunteer Agreement which details the general service you are offering as a volunteer. This arrangement is a two-way process: It outlines not only what you are agreeing to do as a volunteer, but also what you can hope to receive from Sefton. Similarly, as a volunteer you will have certain rights (things that you can reasonably expect from Sefton) and also certain responsibilities (things that Sefton can reasonably expect from you).

You have a right to: Receive accurate information about Sefton and your volunteering role. Be included in meetings, and social functions when appropriate. Receive appropriate training and support. Receive regular supervision. Know who to turn to with problems or difficulties (including safeguarding issues). Be appreciated and know that your input is valued. Express your views. Be listened to and treated fairly with dignity and respect. Make mistakes and learn from them. Receive regular and constructive feedback. Be trusted with confidential information where appropriate in order to carry out your role. Work in a safe environment and be covered by our insurance. Be reimbursed for any agreed out-of-pocket expenses. Be consulted on matters which affect your work. Be able to say ‘no’.

You have a responsibility to: Carry out your role and visit the child / young person at the times agreed. Abide by Sefton policies and the code of conduct for volunteers (see overleaf). Respect the rights of children and young people, paid staff and other volunteers. Value difference and treat people with fairness, dignity and respect.


Be honest if there are problems and ask for help or support when needed. Attend meetings and supervision sessions which are part of your role. Feedback relevant and important information.

Code of Conduct A code of conduct is basically a common-sense list of guidelines about how you are expected to carry out your duties as a volunteer. Its purpose is to ensure safety and encourage good practice.

We ask all volunteers: To keep confidentiality, except when you have a duty to report something which compromises the safety of the young person or that of others. Agree a set of “ground rules” with the young person you are matched with so that you are both aware of how your relationship will work. To carry out your volunteering to the best of your ability and in a way that corresponds to Sefton’s aims and values. To recognise that the role of volunteer places you in a position of trust, and you must undertake to uphold that trust. To be a good role model, for example demonstrating honesty, avoiding use of bad language, innuendos, littering, poor practice, etc. To not smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs whilst volunteering, or immediately before volunteering. To know and adhere to Sefton’s policies and procedures. To be reliable and punctual. If unable to attend, to phone to say so, giving as much notice as possible. To consider the care and welfare of children and young people a priority. To develop / maintain appropriate working relationships with the young person you are matched with and any other significant people in their lives, based on mutual trust and respect, and working together to resolve any problems or difficulties. To give and receive constructive feedback. To practice fairness, dignity and respect to all individuals.

Supervision Supervision is a process of planned meetings / discussions between volunteers and the Independent Visitor scheme co-ordinator with the purpose of sharing information, monitoring progress, problem solving and providing a safe place to reflect on our work. It provides an opportunity to discuss your experience and skills, to consider any training you may need, and to update you about any changes within the scheme.


The scheme will take 2 formats: 1. Regular individual supervision (every 4-6 weeks) 2. Monthly peer group sessions (monthly) There is an expectation that you attend a minimum of 4 a year. They give volunteers an opportunity to network with their peers, get ‘top-up’ training on relevant issues, hand in expense forms and find out more about developments in children’s services.

Expenses You are entitled to claim all appropriate and agreed out of pocket expenses. Travel expenses are paid at the following rate: Standard rail fare. Full bus fare. 45 pence a mile by car (agreed in advance). Exceptionally, taxi fares may be authorised. Please remember to keep all bus or train tickets and receipts as you will need these to claim. Please provide petrol receipts for your mileage claims. If you expect to be taking young people in your private vehicle, you will require fully comprehensive business category on your insurance.

Other expenses These may include: Reimbursement for meals or refreshments as part of an agreed activity or the cost of agreed activities undertaken with a child or young person you are matched with. You have a guideline limit of £20 per month to spend on activities, food and drink with the child / young person. This can be saved up and carried over to pay for more expensive activities when you plan your time together. Phone calls Claims should be made on a monthly basis - Volunteers are asked to pay for the activities and will then be reimbursed (paid back) all expenses, including travel costs, through a cheque or BACS transfer into your bank account. This process takes approximately one week. Small amounts are reimbursed by petty cash.


Referrals and Requests Requests for Advocates and Independent Visitors will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Advocates must be offered to any child or young person wishing to make a complaint about children’s social care. Advocates may also be appointed to children in receipt of social care services to support them with other specific issue-based pieces of work, for example LAC reviews, Child Protection Case Conferences. Independent Visitors can be allocated to Looked After Children and young people. Efforts will be made to identify individuals from the child’s existing networks. Where this is possible, the individual will be required to experience the same recruitment process as other volunteers. Wherever possible, young people will be offered a choice in who is allocated to work with them. They will be asked to indicate preferences against brief descriptions of the available volunteers’ age, gender, ethnicity and interestsn and if required, sexuality. Matching is based on the needs or wishes of the young person. The local authority reserves the right not to use any volunteer who does not comply with the Volunteer Guidelines. Where this is the case the volunteer will be advised of the reasons why. Any volunteer who is dissatisfied with the actions of the Local Authority may challenge this using the Council’s Corporate Complaints Procedure.

Emergency Situations We hope and expect that your volunteering goes smoothly but it is always best to be prepared just in case things go wrong. Always use your common sense. Call 999 if an emergency arises.

Safeguarding concerns about a child or young person? If you have concerns about a child or young person you can contact the Customer Access Team, who will be able to offer advice and an opportunity to discuss a situation which may or may not result in a referral being made.

Referring to Children’s Social Care Ring the Sefton Plus Customer Access Team on 0845 140 0845 or via minicom 0151 934 4657. The Sefton Plus contact centre is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. For emergency situations the Health & Social Care Emergency Duty Team provides a service outside of normal working hours, that is, during the night-time and at weekends. Call 0151 920 8234 – we suggest you keep this number in your mobile phone, just in case! Always notify your supervisor or the Independent Visiting and Advocacy Coordinator as soon as possible about an emergency situation after making the referral.


Clarity about referrals Children’s services are responsible for the decision about what action to take following a referral. It is important that you provide clear information so that appropriate decisions can be made. When referring a child, young person or family to children’s services you should consider the following: Whether there are concerns and if so the nature of the concern. How and why you have concerns; what is the foundation? Whether urgent action is needed to make the child safe from harm. What appears to be the needs of the child and family? The known history of the family. The discussion with the family and the agreement for the referral.

Local fun, cheap or free things to do on visits Maritime museum / Tate Gallery at Albert Dock Crosby beach – dress up a statue! Parks, feeding ducks Rice Lane City Farm Big Art at Walker Art Gallery (best for under 8’s) Leisure Centres, swimming etc (contact Active Sefton about concessions, leisure passes etc) Bike rides Pinewoods, Formby Orange Wednesday Cinema or Plaza Saturday Kids Club (adults free!) Libraries, help with research for school projects Bowling (often special offers) National Wildflower Trust Visit to Croxteth Park / Sefton Park Window shopping Picnics Cook a meal together Walk dogs

Susan Branch, Independent Visiting and Advocacy Officer, Tel: 0151 934 4167 Email: Susan.Branch@sefton.gov.uk If you need this brochure in a different format or another language, please contact us on: 0845 140 0845 www.sefton.gov.uk


Looked after Children Advocy Volunteer Introduction