Photo exhibition celebrates Dorset befriending service for young people in care

Posted by Media team / Thursday 28 September 2017 / Services Press release
Holly, 16, with IV Sue Mellor, 56, both from Bournemouth 2
  • New Forest photographer helps young people in care supported by charity befriending service to capture portraits of their mentors.

  • Exhibition runs until Sunday (1 October) at Poundbury's The Engine Room restaurant.

  • Action for Children’s Dorset Independent Visitor service looking for volunteers from the region who can spare a few hours a month to visit, befriend and advise a looked after child or young person.

The Engine Room restaurant in Poundbury is hosting a photo exhibition this week featuring portraits of volunteers from a Dorset befriending service for young people in care.

Over the past year, young people supported by Action for Children’s Dorset Independent Visitors service have been capturing their ‘adult friends’ with help from New Forest photographer, Jerry Fenner.

Independent Visitors (IVs) are trained volunteers who are matched to a young person in residential care or a foster home and typically meet with them every three or four weeks to go out, have fun and, if needed, provide a listening ear.

Explaining the idea behind the project, photographer Jerry, who is an Independent Visitor himself, said: “This was about letting the young people create a photographic portrait of their independent visitor and express the value they find in their relationship.

“Having sought the co-operation of each young person, and their IV, I met up with them and talked them through the concept of a portrait photograph – what kind of image did they want to create? What location and background? Which lens, film speed, aperture and shutter speed to use.

“I wanted to keep it brief and simple, without blinding them with all the techie detail while they got the chance to handle professional grade camera kit. It’s been fantastically rewarding for everyone involved and a great opportunity to showcase the long-term friendships the service has enabled.”

Coordinator of the Independent Visitor service, Simon Keys, said: “A huge thank you to Jerry and The Engine Room restaurant for making this all possible – it’s been such a positive experience for everyone.

“We are currently looking for more Independent Visitors across Dorset so whether you’re a lively, outgoing person or someone who prefers the quieter life, we’ll match your interests with the child or young person in need of a friend. It is often the less glamorous activities that offer the young person the most. 

“Our volunteers may not necessarily have direct experience, but they all share two things; a genuine concern for child welfare and the desire to ‘make a difference’ in a young person’s life. It may not seem a lot – trips out or just a listening ear, but it can make such a difference.”

Action for Children’s Dorset Independent Visitor service offers full training and support to all its volunteers, as well as reimbursement of expenses associated with carrying out the role.  Volunteers need to be over 21 years old and committed to establishing a long-term relationship with the child or young person. They also need to be able to drive and have access to a car. 

The exhibition is running until Sunday at The Engine Room restaurant in Poundbury and is also available to view online here

To find out more about becoming an Independent Visitor or to make a donation to the Dorset Independent Visitors service, call Simon Keys at Action for Children on 01305 753 657 / 07779 029 292 or email [email protected]

Jerry Fenner Photography -

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Photographer Jerry Fenner, Action for Children’s Simon Keys and the Independent Visitors and their matched young people in the attached photographs are all available for interview. Quotes from attached IVs and young people also available. Please contact Huw Beale, senior media officer, Action for Children – 07718 114 038 / [email protected]