Blossom Family Contact Services (previously known as Family Contact) is situated in Adamsdown, an inner-city area in the south of Cardiff. Adamsdown is located between Newport Road to the north, the mainline railway to the south, and is 10 minutes’ walk from Cardiff city centre. The centre was set up in 1991 and provides a broad spectrum of contact services which are developed and expanded to meet the needs of the community and the families that they work with. Families accessing the centre are mainly referred via Cafcass and other professionals, although the centre does accept self-referrals. Community contact works well in the area as there is a soft play centre close by, shops and parks. The centre has excellent links with the local community and shares premises with the Flying Start nursery which appears to work well. This helps to provide a good amount of resources for the different ages of children accessing the service.
The visit was carried out remotely via video call.
The centre has a waiting room and foyer, with disabled access. The contact room is large, spacious, and very well equipped for play. There are a good range of toys and resources for children catering for different age groups and development stages. Although the centre shares the space with the nursery (which uses it at different times to the centre), toys are not shared. Parents bring their own toys for their children and the co-ordinator feels that this is better in ascertaining how well they know their child and for observing play interactions. There is also a good sized, secure outside area with lots of play equipment. The door to the outside has a canopy on it for protection from the sun. The centre has accessible toilets, which look clean, tidy, and well maintained, a baby change facility and separate toilets for children. Staggered arrival and departure times are provided, and separate entrance/exits are available.
A referral form is completed for each parent and outlines the details of the parents and the child and why the contact service is needed. Pre-visit checklists are used as a way of risk assessing and gathering information around gifts, photos and videos between the resident parent, non-resident parent, and child. Pre-visits for some families are conducted over the phone due to the distance that they may travel and Covid19, however children are invited to attend the centre to look around prior to their contact sessions starting to ensure familiarity and to ease emotional upset. When the child visits, the worker takes the time to talk to the child and discover his/her interests and what toys they like. The workers are keen for the children to lead the play and for the non-resident/visiting parent to go along with that play. The centre gathers feedback from children to ensure that their views are heard, and alterations can be made if necessary.
Indirect work and handovers are treated like any other contact service. All necessary paperwork is collated and recorded, and reviews are completed with the professional as appropriate, in collaboration with families. All referral information is available in Welsh and English. A translator can be provided at the cost of the referring body and the centre is accessible to all. The centre is committed to Wales safeguarding policies and procedures.
There are two staff members who work together on all cases, which ensures continuity for families. The centre also has a volunteer team for supported contact sessions only.
This is a busy contact centre with a small team of staff and volunteers, but this has no detriment on the number of referrals received or the amount of families that are accessing the service. The staff and volunteers work well as a team whilst being supported higher up by the committee – in particular, the Chair is very active within the centre, delivering training and supervision. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) re-accreditation.