An urban spoken word artist and rising social media star has joined a national campaign to help more young people in foster care find inspiring adult mentors.
East Londoner Nego True, whose emotive performances have notched up more than a million views on YouTube, has today launched a new video with Barnardo’s and the National Independent Visitor Network, encouraging looked-after young people to seek someone they can spend quality time with outside of the usual care system environment.
Independent visitors – or IVs – are volunteers who are carefully matched with young people in foster care so together they can build a positive, trusting and consistent relationship over the long term.
Walks in the park, days out and chats over coffee are among the experiences that a young person might share with their Independent Visitor, who will stay with them for years even as the child moves to a new foster home or changes social worker.
Although all children in foster care may be legally entitled to an Independent Visitor, research has shown that only three in 100 children in care in England and Wales are currently matched with an IV, and local services are often under-resourced or simply unavailable.
Nego hopes the video, produced with the involvement of looked-after young people and with support from advertising agency Chapter, will help raise awareness of the vital role an IV can have in the life of a young person with no supportive, nurturing family of their own.
Nego True said: “It’s difficult to build a future with people you don’t have memories with. Young people who aren’t able to live with their birth family need to look elsewhere to find that someone who can offer comfort and consistency, no matter what life throws at them.
I hope I can help inspire more young people in foster care right now to exercise their right to ask for an Independent Visitor, and to know there are people out there who are ready to stand by them.”
Narin Cakir, Team Manager of the National IV Network, said: “We created the film after young people told us they wanted to be communicated to in a new way, and they were involved throughout the whole process.
Every day our members see the difference that Independent Visitors make in young people’s lives, but services throughout the country are still incredibly under-resourced. I hope people share this film and help us spread the message that every child should have the opportunity to develop a meaningful and rewarding connection with an adult who shares their interests.”
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, added: “We are delighted Nego is helping us to highlight how an Independent Visitor can help to transform the life of a young person in foster care. Knowing they have someone there for them – whether that’s having a chat over a coffee, or spending the day together – can make such a positive difference to their lives.
Having access to this support system can really benefit a young person, so it’s great that Nego is helping us to spread the word and encourage more young people in foster care to ask for an Independent Visitor.”