Leeds ,

Leeds Rhinos players show support for Independent Visitors Scheme

Stars of the Leeds Rhinos squad have given their support for Leeds City Council’s Independent Visitor scheme by signing up to become volunteer befrienders for children who live in the care of the local authority.

The Independent Visitor Scheme aims to offer young people who live in foster care or a residential home a role model and friend who is independent of their home life situation. This is a statutory requirement for all councils to ensure children and young people who are looked after in the care of the council can spend a couple of hours a month with an adult who is not connected with their care or education.

Hundreds of volunteers across the city have signed up for the scheme and now the players from Leeds Rhinos will be offering their time to help provide positive role models for these young people.

Speaking about the support from the Leeds Rhinos, Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “It would be absolutely amazing to have a Rhinos player befriending our looked after people, sports personalities acting as positive role models gives our young people so much to aspire to.

“We currently have 115 young people who are matched with an independent visitor but we still have 50 young people waiting to be matched so our challenge is to try and reduce this waiting list to zero this year.

“The one to one relationship the scheme offers gives the child consistency and stability, which creates trust and boosts their self-esteem and development. Visitors giving time up freely as well, really makes the young people feel special and valued.”

Leeds Rhinos Foundation Partnership Manager Dan Busfield added: “Our players are great role models for children in the city and I am delighted so many of them have expressed an interest in getting involved in this. I think this will prove to be rewarding for both the players who are volunteering and the children.”

Leeds City Council are appealing for more people from all backgrounds to volunteer and in particular are looking for more men and volunteers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to join the scheme.

Volunteers must be over 21 and able to relate well to children and young people and have a genuine interest in their wellbeing. Training and ongoing support is provided and the role involves giving a few hours a month for a minimum of two years.