Volunteer Independent Visiting and Advocacy

Can you make a difference to young peoples' lives by helping them to get their voices heard?

Volunteer Independent Visiting and Advocacy (VIVA) is an independent service, run by Oxfordshire County Council, providing children and young people with an independent visitor or advocate.

Volunteers are not part of social care services but commit to make a difference to children and young people by volunteering their time with VIVA.

Find out what independent advocates and visitors do below.

What is an independent advocate?

An independent advocate acts as a representative or assists the young person or young adult with getting their voice heard.

An independent advocate will:

  • listen to and prepare young people's views, wishes and feelings for meetings
  • ensure young people understand what people are saying
  • help them say what they want to say and make sure people listen to them
  • help them to know their rights or find information
  • take 100 per cent of their instructions from the young person
  • help young people feel safe and be heard
  • observe or use rights-based work for young people that are unable to verbally express their views

Advocacy can be short-term, to assist in a few meetings or to resolve a quick problem. However, in some cases it can become long term if the young person wishes to have the same independent advocate in several meetings.

What is an independent visitor?

An independent visitor volunteers time to:

  • help young people who have little or no family or any young person who may benefit
  • help young people who are looked after by the council
  • befriend a young person who would like to have a friendship with an adult outside the care system
  • provide young people with support, companionship, opportunities to talk and to have fun.

This is a long term, confidential, befriending relationship on a one-to-one basis with young people aged between 8 and 18 and adults who have social care up to age 25.

How to become a VIVA team volunteer

Volunteers are not part of social care services but commit to provide an independent service to make a difference to children and young people.

Being a VIVA team volunteer will give you an opportunity to help transform young lives, positively benefit the wider community and gain new skills and experience. All our volunteers are provided with training and peer support.

What qualities do volunteers need?

  • Commitment
  • Reliability
  • Willingness to undertake training and supervision
  • Able to respect confidentiality
  • Respect and adherence to safeguarding policies and procedure
  • Good record keeping
  • Able to take responsibility for the young person in their care
  • Flexible approach alongside young people's needs
  • Good sense of humour
  • Experience being with children and young people - as paid or unpaid workers, family members or friends.

How to make a referral to VIVA

If you would like to find out more about VIVA, or to become an advocate or independent visitor, contact us.

Further information

To find out more about VIVA please download the flyers below:

Use the links below for a 10 minute video on what each volunteering position involves:

Volunteer video

See a video of one of our volunteers.