Somerset Councillors joined volunteers to learn more about – and celebrate – the special role played by those who come forward to volunteer for Route 1 – the service that supports children’s social care.
Councillors, who also take on the role of Corporate Parents, listened with interest, asked questions and expressed their thanks.
Those present included Cllrs Tessa Munt (the then Lead Member for Children, Families and Education); Heather Shearer (current Lead Member for Children, Families and Education) ; Leigh Redman (Chair of Somerset Council’s Children, Families and Education Scrutiny committee and Vice Chair of Somerset Corporate Parenting board) and Simon Carswell.
Route 1 Advocates work alongside individual children in care to ensure their voices are heard and their wishes and feelings are taken into account when decisions are made which affect them. Route 1 Independent Visitors are volunteers who spend leisure time with children and young people in care.
Tessa Munt said: “Independent Visitors and Advocates shared their experiences and stories of the children and young people with whom they have contact. It was so clear the difference they make to enhance the lives of children in care and make sure each child’s voice is heard.”
Simon Carswell said “It was fantastic to hear the work carried out by volunteers with Route1. Having previously been a mentor and advocate with Route 1 (formerly Promise Mentoring), I know what a difference a reliable, positive role model can make to a young person’s life. Some young people are only used to adults who let them down and haven’t the time to listen to their voices. Route 1 is an invaluable service and thanks to everyone involved who give their unpaid time to young people in Somerset.”
Leigh Redman said: “I am so impressed by the volunteers’ dedication, often being called at the last minute to support a hastily arranged meeting, taking time from their day to listen and be there. As a Corporate Parent and Vice Chair of the Board, I am pleased that Route 1 volunteers are here to help our children looked after. I am so grateful to them for their time.”
Route 1 currently has 114 Independent Visitors supporting looked after children and would welcome more volunteers to support 49 young people on the waiting list. So far this financial year, the advocacy service has received 778 referrals for support. If you are interested in supporting young people in this way, please come forward as a volunteer for Route 1 Advocacy & Independent Visitors. You can find out more at call the Route 1 team on 01749 822801