AG Contact Centre (AGCC) is in St Leonards on Sea (Hastings), Sussex, providing an array of contact services including supervised and supported contact. The centre is based on London Road with very close links to public transport (train and bus routes) and is a short walk from Hastings sea front – perfect for families who are able to access community contact. More recently AGCC have been sub-contracted to facilitate work commissioned by Cafcass (ICFA – Improving Child and Family Arrangements). AGCC has also opened four other venues in the Sussex and Thetford areas.
AG Contact Centre leases two rooms from St Nicholas’ Centre, a local charity. The building is easy to spot – being a large detached Victorian building with good signage. AGCC leases two rooms on the ‘basement’ of the building which can be accessed by a side door (with ramp, therefore accessible to those with additional needs) or by lift through the main entrance. The centre is clean and attractively decorated with pictures furnishing the walls, plants and well-lit spaces. Both rooms and the accessible toilet/changing facilities are on the same floor and as a result other services run by St Nicholas’ do not impact AGCC. The space is safe, child friendly and has in place the appropriate signage, alarms and extinguishers. AGCC has evidenced a clear and appropriate response to the area in which they operate, offering both a culturally appropriate environment, toys and activities, as well as interpreters employed by the company. As a result of this the centre are able to swiftly provide services at no additional cost to the centre or service user. The centre has evidenced several policies available in different languages including the centre brochure.
AGCC’s website is professional and provides information about all services provided for all including children and young people. AGCC has leaflets with information such as location, and general information about the use of contact centres. As well as this there are additional flyers that provide ‘frequently asked questions’ (covering how to make a referral, who to contact etc.) and referral processes. As well as this the service has information about the local community for those engaging in handover and community contact.
The service provides information to children and young people about the services they will be accessing and some information about why they may be accessing these services. There is a clear passion for children to have access to safe contact and to be informed too. Children can meet staff to discuss the services they will be accessing and view the centre they will be attending. They are able to feedback and evaluate the service they are getting.
Two staff are allocated to each family allowing for a familiar face for families to build positive working relationships. Staff complete pre-visits and risk assessments allowing for an understanding of the families that they work with and an early opportunity to build rapport. Staff are well trained and experienced in working with children and young people. When transporting children under the age of sixteen, information in relation to who will be escorting children is requested at the point of referral. As well as this, the centre policy outlines that two staff members must accompany children being transported in private vehicles or taxis.
AG Contact Centre in Hastings offers a safe, child orientated environment. Administration of the service is professional and well organised, with a strong background in social work services and a desire for improving contact services to ensure children have the best possible experience. Whilst AG Contact Centre are a fairly young service in terms of being an Enhanced Accredited centre, they have already made their stamp in the Sussex area and beyond.