14 June 2011

A volunteer scheme run by Northamptonshire County Council that matches vulnerable young people to supportive adults has received a cash injection from the insurance giants Aviva.

The Independent Visitors Project received the first prize of £25,000 in the Aviva 110 Community Awards for its commitment to supporting Northamptonshire’s looked after children with the support of local businesses.

The project was nominated by Sean Mabbutt, Director of Northampton-based commercial broker Cotters Insurance, who has been an avid supporter of the project for the past ten years.

The award scheme was a national event organised by Aviva to encourage independent insurance brokers to create positive change in their local communities. Cotters Insurance was one of hundreds of brokers eligible to nominate their chosen cause.

Sean said: “It came as a wonderful surprise when Cotters’ nomination was announced as one of the finalists, but then to have won the award for such a deserving cause is a dream come true. I feel honoured to be part of a service which has given so many children and young people in care the opportunity to form positive long term relationships with people who really care about them.”

The project provides a befriending service for children and young people who are looked after by the council who have little or no parental contact, or where it appears to those professionals working with the young person that it would be beneficial for the child to have additional support from a volunteer.

Adult volunteers are provided with training and are then matched with a child who is believed to be right for them. Volunteers commit to visiting the child every other week for approximately two hours. Visits involve arranging activities, helping the young person to pursue interests or hobbies, or simply being someone to talk to.

Sean added: “I got involved in the scheme at a busy time of life. Cotters was a relatively young business ten years ago and we had a young family. But the two hour visits are very manageable. And for someone who wants to get involved in helping young people, and is able to commit long term, it’s a great way to get involved. This scheme can make a huge difference to these kids’ lives both now and in the long-term. It has been one of the most rewarding and worthwhile things I have ever been involved with“.

As a result of the £25,000 award, more children can be matched and continued support can be given to existing matches for vulnerable young people in to adulthood.