About my family

It’s tricky to say whether you have to go to contact when you might feel like you don’t want to. If you are unsure the best thing to do would be to ask the people you live with, any professionals working with you or the centre and they will help you to understand the situation and what your rights are.

You might also want to talk to Childline if you feel like you are being made to do something that you do not want to do, or that is not safe. Childline would happily provide the support you need. You do not even need to talk if you don’t want too, they have instant chat and email services too.

The LawStuff Website also has legal advice for children. You might find this helpful if you wanted to know more about your rights.

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There is no minimum age to apply to use a contact centre. However, the younger you are the more support you are likely to need with setting everything up and actually attending the centre. If you want to call 0115 948 4557, we will do our best to support you. It is also really good to get some help from an adult, if you’re younger than 16. You might want to ask a parent, family member, Cafcass, Social Worker or teacher to help with this. It might also be useful to contact NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) to see if they can help you. They have a helpline and an email service.

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It is really normal for brothers or sisters to feel differently to you, especially if you are different ages. This is ok. When you get to the centre they will try and support you all to feel ok or even excited about the plans, but if this is not possible they will try and plan to work with you in a way that works best for everyone. There are lots of things that a centre can do in this situation so try not to worry and make sure people know how you feel.

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Your parents might be arguing for lots of different reasons. This might not mean they are going to split up though. Whatever, it is that makes your parents argue, it does not mean that they do not love you.

It’s not ok for your parents to be arguing around you and we know that this can be quite scary and confusing. It’s important to let people know what’s happening for you at home and how this makes you feel.

If your parents are hitting each other, this is not ok, and they might need some help to make things better.

Whatever your situation is there are lots of people able to help. Why not talk to another family member, or a professional like a teacher or social worker.

If you want to talk to someone confidentially, Childline can be there whenever you need them. Childline would happily provide the support, you need. You do not even need to talk if you don’t want too, they have instant chat and email services too.

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Sometimes things happen and this can lead to your parents not loving each other anymore. We know that this can be really hard to accept and the changes that happen in your world can be quite scary.

At the moment you might not believe this, but in time you might prefer them when they are not together, they might become better parents and less stressed people.

When your parents decide to separate it is important to remember that this is not your fault. Even if other people say differently, adults are responsible for their actions and the problems that come along when people do or say things, they might later wish they hadn’t.

It’s important to remember though that your parents still love you and you are probably the most special thing they have in their lives. They might be forgetting to tell you this or make you feel this way if they are hurting. This isn’t ok, but things will get better in time.

Keep talking about what life is like for you. There are lots of people that want to listen, that care and will want to help.

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About contact centres

Sometimes a contact centre might be able to support your family in other places. It might be possible for you to spend some time at a bowling alley, or at the beach or park if the centre is near these places.

It’s always best to check with the centre.

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This varies and is often different for each family. Sometimes sessions might be for an hour, sometimes they might be longer than this. Depending on your circumstances this might change as things progress.

To know the exact plans for your family it is usually best to ask the centre or the people you live with.

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There is no minimum age to apply to use a contact centre. However, the younger you are the more support you are likely to need with setting everything up and actually attending the centre. If you want to call 0115 948 4557, we will do our best to support you. It is also really good to get some help from an adult, if you’re younger than 16. You might want to ask a parent, family member, Cafcass, Social Worker or teacher to help with this. It might also be useful to contact NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) to see if they can help you. They have a helpline and an email service.

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A contact centre is a building and it can look very different depending which one you use. Sometimes, they look like a house, and other times they look like an office building. Contact centres can also be in schools. Because they are all very different it might be best to find out the name of the centre you will be using and then look on google to see what pictures you can find.

A contact room is usually a good-sized space with pictures on the walls. There is almost always a selection of toys and games. Often there will also be other things like art and craft for example. There is often a table and chairs, sometimes there might also be sofas or bean bags too.

If you are having supported contact, you might have an even bigger room where you will also notice other families sharing the space. For supervised contact you will have this space to yourself.

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A contact room is usually a good-sized space with pictures on the walls. There is almost always a selection of toys and games. Often there will also be other things like art and craft for example. There is often a table and chairs, sometimes there might also be sofas or bean bags too.

If you are having supported contact, you might have an even bigger room where you will also notice other families sharing the space. For supervised contact you will have this space to yourself.

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A contact centre is a safe place for you to spend time with people that you care about that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.

Before using their services you will have a chance to go to the centre. This is a chance for you to meet the staff and see the centre. You can check out their toys and games as well as work out where the toilet is. This visit is a good chance for you to find out about how the centre will work with your family and keep you safe. Its also a good idea to think of some questions you might like to ask when you see the centre and meet the people there to support you.

Once you have seen the centre you will then be able to go back there to spend time with those people that care about you. Sometimes you might be in a room with just them and a member of staff at other times there might be more families and fewer staff.

Because centres are all different it might be best to ask them about how they will support you and what will be happening there.

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About my centre

It is best to check with the centre whether you can take snacks. This will usually be ok though.

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When you meet with the centre before your first session (sometimes called a pre-visit) the staff will talk to you about this. Sometimes they might agree a code word or phrase that you can use to end the session early. This might be that you say you want to go to the toilet for example, when you then go there you can tell any staff member you want the session to stop.

They might talk to you about why you feel this way but would not force you to do something you do not want to do.

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Sometimes a contact centre might be able to support your family in other places. It might be possible for you to spend some time at a bowling alley, or at the beach or park if the centre is near these places.

It’s always best to check with the centre.

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It is usually ok to take a toy or other item to a contact centre with you. We recommend you do not take very valuable things that you would be very upset about if they were lost or broken and we would also advise you to check with your centre before doing this, just in case.

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It is hard to say how long you might need to use a centre. For some families we hope that this will not be more than 3 – 6 months however, we know that it can be longer for other families.

It might be a good idea to speak with someone you trust about this to find out more.

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It’s really tricky to say whether you have to go to contact when you might feel like you don’t want too. If you are unsure the best thing to do would be to ask the people you live with, any professionals working with you or the centre and they will help you to understand the situation and what your rights are.

You might also want to talk to Childline if you feel like you are being made to do something that you do not want to do, or that is not safe. Childline would happily provide the support you need. You do not even need to talk if you don’t want too, they have instant chat and email services too.

The LawStuff Website also has legal advice for children. You might find this helpful if you wanted to know more about your rights.

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Yes. Contact centres are nice places to be. Centres work really hard to make their places as good as possible for children. If something is not up to scratch just let them know.

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Firstly, the people you are meeting will want you to be safe and happy, even if it doesn’t seem like that right now, or if they didn’t do a very good job of this in the past.

All contact centres have staff who are trained to keep children safe. Regardless of what type of contact you might be having they will have plans in place to help you be safe and can talk to you about these plans if you would like them too.

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It is perfectly normal to be unhappy with the services you are being provided with and you have the right to talk about this. When you tell people how you feel, they will always listen to you and if possible, they might be able to make changes that make you feel happier or more comfortable.

If this doesn’t happen or if you remain unhappy – complain. Someone might need to help you with this, but all you really need to do is to put some information in writing to the centre to let them know you are not happy and want to complain.

If you have a social worker, Cafcass officer or other professionals in your life, they will be happy to help you to overcome any challenges. Otherwise, the people working at the centre will also be happy to help you. They will not be sad or angry that you have complained, it might even help them to make things better for other children.

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The person you are having contact with should not be drunk. They will know this before the first session. They are not allowed to be drunk at a contact centre and should not take alcohol there with them.

If they do come drunk the staff on reception will hopefully notice this and deal with this before you see the person you are visiting. If they do not notice this, you might want to help them out by letting them know. If you don’t want to do this, you could always tell the person you live with so that they can work with the centre or the person you’re having contact with to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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Mum and dad will have a meeting with the centre before the first session. The centre will ask them not to talk about things that might make you feel uncomfortable. If they do this in supervised contact the staff will hear and ask them to stop. Otherwise, you can always tell the person you are in contact with that you do not want to talk about that. The staff will always support you.

In supported contact, the staff might not hear the person you are having contact with, saying things that make you feel uncomfortable. So, you might need to help them out by letting them know. If you don’t want to do this, you could always tell the person you live with so that they can work with the centre or the person you’re having contact with to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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When you are about to start using a contact centre, we know that you will have many questions and be feeling lots of difficult emotions. This can be both exciting and scary at the same time and we don’t often feel good and bad emotions all at once.

The centre will understand this, and they will be skilled at supporting you. When you first go to the centre, this will usually be to have a look around and the person it is planned that you will be having contact with will not be there. This gives you a chance to talk to the centre about how your feeling and to ask any questions that are important to you. The centre will always do their best to support with this.

The NACCC website has a range of information that is written with children in mind. You will find answers to many of your questions here. You might want to talk to someone other than your parents or the contact centre. This is a perfectly normal way to feel. If this sounds like your situation Childline would happily provide the support, you need. You do not even need to talk if you don’t want too, they have instant chat and email services too.

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For some families it might be possible to move on from the service and to be spending time with the people you live with away from the centre. This might mean seeing these people with other family, in public places or even at the home of the person you were seeing at the contact centre. For most families this is what we want to happen. NACCC want contact centres to support families for a small amount of time so that you can move on to better things as soon as this is safe.

Your family might be supported to move on from the centre in several different ways. It might be that you stop using them and this happens quite suddenly. It might also be that this happens more slowly and that for a while you spend some time at the centre and sometime away from the centre.

It’s also possible that when you’re starting to not need the centre any more that you just use this as a place to meet up with the person you do not live with any more and then you leave the centre to spend time with this person.

If you do not live with either of your parents and have a social worker, it might be the case that you always use a contact centre or another service that works in a similar way. This is ok. They will support you with this and hopefully make this as good of an experience as it can be for you.

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Whilst you are in contact the person who took you to the session may do a number of different things. Often, they won’t be in the session with you, but they might wait in the waiting room. Otherwise they might pop to the shops or find somewhere to buy coffee whilst they wait. The centre will always have a way to contact the person you live with, so if you need support it will never be too far away.

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Firstly, the people you are meeting will want you to be safe and happy, even if it doesn’t seem like that right now, or if they didn’t do a very good job of this in the past.

All contact centres have staff who are trained to keep children safe. Regardless of what type of contact you might be having they will have plans in place to help you be safe and can talk to you about these plans if you would like them too.

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It would not be usual for the person you live with to stay with you whilst you are having contact. This can happen sometimes, but it is quite rare.

Whilst you are in contact the person who took you to the session may do a few different things. Often, they will not be in the session with you, but they might wait in the waiting room. Otherwise they might pop to the shops or find somewhere to buy coffee whilst they wait. The centre will always have a way to contact the person you live with, so if you need support it will never be too far away.

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If you are having supervised contact the staff will write a summary of what happened at the session. You might see them writing or typing notes that help them remember what happened, but sometimes they have a great memory and won’t need to take these notes.

If you are unsure whether notes are being taken its ok to ask about this and the centre will be able to tell you if they are taking notes and who they will be sharing these with.

If there are no other professionals working with your family the centre will have agreed who to give the notes too. If there are other professionals, they would usually be able to see these notes. These professionals might then use these to think about the future and what might be best for you.

Top Tip – professionals will always want to know what is best for you and if you do not tell them they might try to work this out for themselves. If you have ideas about how you want things to be, make sure people know about this. They might not agree with you about what is best, but if you tell them they should record this and take what you say seriously.

If you are having supported contact, you won’t usually see any notes being taken. Supported centres will make notes about dates and times that you use the centre, but they will not make any notes about what happens within the session itself.

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Sometimes there might be other children at the centre. Whether or not they are there and whether or not you get to see or spend time with them might vary on a number of different factors.

Usually if you are having supervised contact you will not see any children apart from those you are having contact with.

Usually in supported contact you will see other children there.

It’s always best to ask the people you live with or the centre directly if you are unsure.

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