Our AGM and conference took place on Saturday 2nd October with many child contact centre co-ordinators, volunteers, Chairs, and staff members in attendance.
The conference had a sustainability focus with our very own Kelly Williams introducing four co-ordinators talking about their situation and how it has improved their centre’s sustainability. We’ve captured some of their top tips below but please do watch the videos to get the most from these presentations.
Recruitment and volunteers
In this video, Brian Davey, Co-ordinator at Westwood House Child Contact Centre is joined by Kelly Williams to talk about the challenges of recruitment, specifically in relation to volunteers and sustainability. Brian gives us some helpful suggestions about the benefits of younger volunteers and the way that male volunteers can build special rapports with families where a positive male role model can be very important.
Brian’s top tips!
Have a regular review of how our teams look today and how we can plan for the future.
Get a deputy in place to support your co-ordinator so that you are less vulnerable to closure. Our aim is to have another younger deputy to strengthen the co-ordinating team. This role will help someone wanting to get experience in management – perhaps in education, health or social care.
- Keep in touch with your volunteers – when covid hit we felt the need to keep in touch with our volunteers and we made sure we had an individual conversation with all our volunteers prior to reopening
- Review your recruitment plan – particularly if your volunteers are a particular age bracket
- Join your local CVS – very helpful for recruiting local volunteers and offering management support (see NCVO)
- Consider commercial recruitment agencies – some services offered free of charge (e.g. Indeed.com do not charge for advertising volunteer roles).
Do watch the video to find out how Westwood House have met their target of recruiting 6 new volunteers this year and hoping to strengthen their management team.
Co-ordinating across multiple venues / experience as a paid co-ordinator
In this video, Amanda Anthony from Children’s Links meets with Kelly Williams from NACCC to discuss how she co-ordinates five child contact centres, rather than just one which might be more usual traditionally. Amanda runs centres based in based in Grantham, Gainsborough, Lincoln, Skegness & Spalding and talks about why this works so well for her service, she shares some top tips as well as helping us to think about the pros and cons of such a model.
The Children’s Links model
Our venues are all local family centres which helps keep the costs down. We have multiple services who share the cost of back-office functions, HR, accounts, payroll etc. This also provides us with a bank of staff with different experiences should we need them.
I co-ordinate remotely – with a paid deputy and team of volunteers at each centre. I do all the preparation work with families (information packs, referral risk assessments etc) until they have their pre-visit booked in which is then dealt with by my local deputy at the centre. I am on the end of the phone during the contact in case of any queries.
- Cost – whilst we pay a deputy staff member at each centre it is just for that session.
- As co-ordinator I deal with all the niggles that might arise in between sessions which the onsite staff don’t have to deal with.
- I can deal with issues concerning families not adhering to our T&C and can deal with any issues relating to complaints.
Cons – sometimes it is easier to deal with things face to face.
The cost of my salary is split between 3 services so revenue from all these helps to pay salary. My salary is funded through grants, contact charges, local funds e.g. Rotary Club and local Co-op Champion money.
Amanda’s top tips!
- Networking is essential. Meet other local organisations – sometimes you can share facilities. Join up with another contact centre to help with back-office functions such as payroll. Share funding streams. The NACCC coffee shop is invaluable for this.
- A range of volunteers with different experiences. We have a lot of interest from nursery staff wanting to gain health and social care experience.
Do watch the video for more insights from Amanda!
Kath Mardles from Buzz Child Contact Centre joins Kelly Williams to share their experiences of fundraising and working with funders. Kath shares her top tips for funding and discusses why this has been so essential to the sustainability of their service.
Due to changes in local need Buzz responded by changing our focus as an organisation. We now provide all forms of contact with funded places available and are seeking funding for some parent support projects including children’s pre-visits and familiarisations sessions and parenting sessions. Our core principles have remained the same … Find out what people want, what community needs, find the money for it and keep it sustainable.
“We are sustainable through our supervised contact income, some income from supported contact, multi-year funding (3yr Lottery/Children in Need funding), 1yr funding (eg Awards for all), small local grants, annual fundraisers, work in partnership, have student placements, engage volunteers and have support from businesses who give their time to charity. Sheffield Business Together have signposted to IT services to process our referrals and track our impact. NACCC is a huge support as well.”
Kath’s top tips!
- Consult with service users and find out what they want and need
- Join mailing list for your local Voluntary Action or Funding advice service or Local Community Foundation as well
- Work with service users as you develop the bid. Once you know why the service is needed it gives you the passion to write the bid.
- Get to know potential funders and their submission dates.
- At application stage – plan your idea. You could use the Planning Triangle. Think about what will happen when the funding ends. Your planning – leads to budget – lead to which funders you can approach
- Consider applying for pilot projects – e.g. National Lottery Awards for All. Iron out issues before you approach the multi-year funders.
- Get someone else to check and proof-read your bid.
- Keep in touch with funders, even if you get a ‘no’ ask for feedback. Make sure you meet the requirements of the bid. Kelly Family Trust fund child contact centres rather than more general projects
- Have a 3-year plan. Organise your monitoring. Be realistic but dream big and share the passion for what you do!
- Most funds are project specific but some of the smaller funds are unrestricted. During Covid there was a lot of recovery funding which helped with us to fund our enhanced accreditation and getting our mediation & Makaton training.
And as Mick Curtain from National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) said at NACCC’s Conference 2019 ‘Do one thing and do it well!’.
Do watch the video to find out more about Buzz’s strategy over the last few years and more top tips!
FREE fundraising pack for members
Melanie Campbell, who has helped with our fundraising recently has produced a fundraising guide to help enable you with your own fundraising. She has included:
- resources on fundraising best practice and legalities
- ideas for fundraising
- focus on fundraising from trusts and grants including links to free resources to access potential funders.
Download for free from the members area
Becoming sustainable through diversification
Melanie Lewis joins Kelly Williams in this video to talk to us about how Tidal Family Support diversified its range of services in order to become more sustainable at a time when things were less than secure for them and what the consequences of this have been for the children and families who rely on the service.
“We are a community based, not for profit charity and have recently had a ‘rebrand’ with a new website and decorated rooms at our venue. We have been careful not to use jargon or professional words on the website which features sea characters filtering through from the website to the room decoration helping to alleviate children’s anxieties. Our theme links with our unique location as a biosphere reserve which children on foster placement can share with their parents”
“We are 90% grant funded / with additional revenue coming from our subsidised supervised contact charges (£20 per hour). Incoming grants received including the lottery, BBC Children in Need, a local mediation service and Ryde Rotary which has paid for first aid training for the team.”
“We engage with local universities offering placements which helps to keep our wage bill down – investing to have sustainability. Lower business rates help us to save on premises costs and our membership of our local Chamber of Commerce offers a magazine, networking opportunities, improved connectivity and connection with businesses wanting to help local charities.”
Covid has had a direct impact on the numbers of families using the centre with deprivation at 17% higher than at pre–pandemic levels. Some families are also stuck in a cycle of conflict and turmoil over multiple generations and so to address this we have become a licensed practitioner of the Parenting Apart Programme.
“Diversification has provided a backbone to our centre’s sustainability with services including:
- Counselling for family members to help achieve an amicable co-parenting arrangement and reduce the impact of conflict on children.
- Sensory space which can be hired out for families whose children have had a recent CAMHS diagnosis
- Signposting service – working in a collaborative approach with mediation, the local authority, Barnardo’s, and local domestic abuse agencies.
- Working towards well-being – employment advice service for parents funded via a joint grant whereby service is hosted at Tidal which offers free childcare whilst parents access the service.”
Melanie’s Top Tips!
- Keep children as your main focus. Get to know and engage with your local community, schools, churches, groups.
- Don’t be in competition with one another but work together.
Please see the members’ area to access all the videos from the day.