Altrincham Child Contact Centre has been running for over thirty years and is an activity of Altrincham Baptist Church. The centre operates from The Hub Community Centre which is a good venue with a large contact room and onsite parking. A large number of classes and activities take place there during the week (not connected to the contact centre), including a foodbank.
The centre had to close during the pandemic, reopening in September 2021 under the leadership of a new co-ordinator and a reduced team of volunteers. At the time of the report to ensure covid safety the centre was operating under reduced arrangements with fortnightly opening and only three families permitted to attend each session. It hoped to increase this again in due course as restrictions ease. Another pressing issue at the time of the report was that the centre has to move premises at the end of the year – back into the main church site where it started originally.
There are good transport links with an interchange with the Metrolink terminal that connects to Sale and Bury. There are rail links to Manchester and Chester and a hub for local bus routes. It is near the M56. The centre has its own car park.
The centre has a reception desk to register families attending and a waiting room is available (although at the time of the report this wasn’t being used). There is a large contact room set out with a good supply of toys and activities for children of different ages (including some reflection of diverse cultures), but at the time of the report parents were being asked to bring some of their own toys along. The centre offers a pre-meeting to parents prior to contact starting and children are involved in this meeting. Drinks and biscuits are served from the kitchen through a hatch in the contact room by a member of the volunteer team. Bathroom facilities are also available off the main hall space.
The centre has comprehensive referral forms which can be found on the centre’s website along with the centre rules and guidelines for attendance. Pre-contact visits are arranged separately for each parent and children are encouraged to attend these. Agreements are signed that make it clear that parents understand what is expected of them at the centre. Staggered arrivals and departures are put in place where necessary to avoid parents having to meet at the centre.
The portfolio and general reaccreditation processes were very efficiently completed by the new co-ordinator who seems to have grasped their role very quickly. The Hub has been an excellent venue and it is a shame that it has to revert to the main church site where it originated which may be less ideal such as in relation to parking. This is a long-established contact centre that is now running efficiently albeit on a more limited basis than previously and with a very efficient co-ordinator. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for supported contact accreditation.