Child Action North West is a charity dedicated to supporting children, young people, vulnerable adults and families who need help. Their history stretches back over 130 years with the founding of Blackburn Orphanage in 1886. CANW Mission is “To inspire young people’s lives and change their futures through the support we give them and values we hold”.
CANW offers 4 separate services: a fostering service; Support Children & Young People (including Young Carers, Youth Engagement Support and Emotional Health & Wellbeing Support); Supporting Communities (Youth Justice Service, Appropriate Adult Scheme, Building Better Futures Project) and Pro-Contact.
Pro Contact was established in 1999 as an independent charity supporting separated parents across the North West of England. It joined CANW in 2014 and now operates across North, East and West England offering a range of services for families to help make informed decisions about safe and sustainable contact arrangements. Their aims, objectives, literature and services are all geared to improving the lives of children and young people and giving them better life chances.
Cafcass commission Pro-Contact to deliver their Improving Child & Family Arrangements (ICFA) across Northern & West England and SPIP across the North West. To deliver on the contract CANW have divided the area into 3 (North, East and West) and services are delivered across the areas without a specific venue.
The three areas operate under the CANW umbrella and thus have the same policies, procedures and working practices in each area. There are two Service Co-ordinators; one for East and one covering West and North area is covered by both. Each Service Co-ordinator has a team of Family Practitioners. In addition Pro Contact sub-contract with ten providers across the areas. Each area is therefore accredited separately, and subcontractors are accredited in their own right.
The Family Practitioner Teams predominantly use public buildings which are open to the public; examples would be bowling alley, amusement arcades, cafes, indoor and outdoor playparks. As these types of venues are covered by their own Health & Safety risk assessments, no additional Risk Assessment is undertaken regarding the venue. Staff would assess the suitability of the venue given the age and ability of the children. If a standard public building or outdoor space cannot be used, for example if a child has autism or other disability, a venue will be hired that specifically meets needs, for example a children’s centre in the local area, or a sensory room. In these case Pro Contact will undertake their own risk assessment to ensure the needs of the child or family member are met.
Pro-Contact staff take a variety of games and activities for the children to use, but also ask parents to provide things. The team try to ensure that a child does not have to travel more than 30 minutes.
The Assessor highly recommends CANW for NACCC accreditation and felt this was an excellent example of a peripatetic service which others may wish to emulate. A wide range of venues have been identified in each local area so that different children’s needs and interests can be catered for. Policies are regularly reviewed, and examples seen showed clear links between policy and planning.