Children in the West Midlands are still waiting for the "buddy" the law entitles them to in order to provide emotional support. The buddy system utilises a volunteer to engender a trusting and stable relationship for those currently in a vulnerable state.
There are currently dozens of children requiring support that are currently being let down by the system as designed by the 1989 Children Act.
Each local authority assess whether a "buddy" is the best option for the children under their care and when it's been agreed that a child needs support it is their legal duty to provide one.
According to data provided by the National Independent Visitor Data Report (2019) there were 10,050 children in care in the West Midlands. And the respective local authorities have identified 318 children who need a friend, or "buddy".
Of those 73 are still waiting to be matched with a suitable indicvidual who can provide the emotional support required. And across England, there were 1,202 vulnerable children waiting to be matched with a buddy.
Further data suggests that 89 per cent of children matched with a "buddy" are white with the overwhelming majority (92 per cent) on waiting lists being from minority ethnic groups.
Speaking from the Barnardo's charity Chief Executive, Javed Khan said: "It is really disappointing that so many children in care are waiting to be matched with an Independent Visitor.
"We know from our experience that these volunteers provide vital support for vulnerable young people, offering friendship, emotional support and a long-term, stable relationship with a trusted adult.
"Having more than 1,000 children waiting for a befriender is not good enough. It's also concerning those children in care from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are less likely to access this service.
"We urge the Government to provide leadership in making sure all children in care can exercise their right to an independent visitor, and that the appropriate resource is available. Local authorities not currently providing this service can contact the National Independent Visitors Network hosted by Barnardo's for advice on how to meet their obligations towards children in care.
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