Dave was apprehensive about his first meeting with Jason, a 14 year old boy. He had asked to be matched with someone a little younger first time around as he was unsure about teenagers but had been persuaded by staff at the Service, who had met Jason, that they would hit it off!
The first visit was at the Children's Residential Unit where Jason lived at the time. Dave remembers that it was a bit awkward to begin with as there were lots of children and staff and he didn't know who was who. Jason however knew exactly who Dave was and watched to see how he would react. A member of staff took Dave, the Social Worker and Jason to talk in a quiet room. Dave says "Jason wanted to know all about me, especially why I wanted to volunteer to work with kids like him. He thought I was mad and I think he was a bit suspicious. I tried to tell him that I thought I had stuff to offer and that I felt young people like him had had a rough deal. I said I wanted to help young people like him make the most of life and have some fun along the way."
Jason took a couple of days to think through what Dave had said when they meet before agreeing to see Dave again. They took things easy at first and just got to know each other but three years on Jason says that "Dave has been a massive support and a real friend. He's seen me through some really bad times, listened to me when I've been down and now he's helping me do up my first flat which is wicked."
Jason had to change placement three times before getting his own flat. He found things really hard having to get to know new people all the time. Dave was a constant person in his life and helped him to cope with all his placement changes. Jason said "I could really trust Dave to be there for me. He never let me down." Dave also stood by Jason when he went to court for shoplifting and when he met up with his Mum after not seeing her for a long while. Jason had been in care since he was nine years old. Sadly Jason's attempts to strike up a relationship with his family didn't work out but he's trying to stand on his own two feet now. Dave has encouraged him to go to college and do an NVQ in computing, something he's really interested in. They often meet after college to "shoot a few hoops" of basketball, one of Jason's favourite past times.
Dave says " I was glad that I was persuaded to meet with Jason, despite my fears about stroppy teenagers, as it was clear we were a good match." Dave says that working with Jason has "changed his perspective on life and taught me a few things along the way. I'm proud to be an Independent Visitor and to call Jason my friend."
Jason has a positive attitude to the future and says "it's great to have my own flat and not to be in care any more." Jason will continue to receive support from Social Services until he is 21 years old. Dave, his Independent Visitor also hopes to continue to support Jason, should he want it, for the next phase of his life. Jason told the Service that he's "really glad I met Dave, even though it was a bit weird to begin with and I wasn't sure about him. Dave's a totally genuine bloke who I really get on with. He's made me realise that my opinion counts and that I shouldn't give up so easily on people as there are some people, like Dave, who you can really trust."