What is a Child Contact centre?
Child contact centres are safe, friendly and neutral places where children of separated families can enjoy contact with their non-resident parents, and sometimes other family members eg grandparents.
For parents, it may be that trust has broken down or communication may have become difficult, but the hope is that in time the Centre becomes a handover point for contact in the community before access arrangements in the non-resident parent’s new home are finally possible.
Why do people use them?
- because children are still experiencing conflict between a parent and the non resident parent
- because a parent and non resident parent are unable to agree on contact arrangements
- because there has been no contact for a long time
- because the resident parent and non resident parent can’t or don’t want to see each other – our buildings all have separate entrances and staggered arrival and departure times
What happens at a session?
Volunteers arrive before the 2 hour session in order to get out all the activities – this depends on the ages of the children that will be attending. The ages can range from a few months to 11+. They also provide the all important teas, coffees and biscuits!
Time is spent receiving parents, reassuring them that their children will be supervised, helping parents and children to play together and generally ensuring that the whole session is a success. A successful session means that conflict is avoided, and that both children and parents have a good time and look forward to the next occasion.
The Mothers’ Union (MU) in the Diocese of Winchester now runs 3 child contact centres at Alton, Hook and Basingstoke. These are manned by volunteers, mostly, but not exclusively, MU members, who are trained and help out on a regular basis. We operate under the umbrella of the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) who are currently celebrating their 25th anniversary.
Further details on how to access these services can be found here or directly from our website menu.