Chances Gives Choices was established in 2014 in Romsey, Hampshire offering a range of supervised and supported contact services both in the centre or within the local community. Remote contact sessions are also available which work very well for times when face-to-face contact is not able to happen or for when there has been a significant break in contact for the child. Romsey has good road, rail and bus links with plenty of shops, parks and cafes. Car parking is available at the centre and the two other businesses operating from the buildings in the vicinity do not impact on services offered by the centre. Chances Gives Choices also operates outreach centres in Alderbury (Wiltshire), Christchurch (Dorset) and Basingstoke, Winchester and Havant in Hampshire.
The assessment visit was carried out remotely via video call.
The premises look well maintained, clean and child friendly and at the time of the report Covid19 implications had been taken into account. There are two entrances/exits in the building to minimise contact for parents who cannot communicate effectively or positively and where there are injunctions or court orders in place. Hallways are obstruction free, and the doors are key pad protected with signs displayed throughout the building marking fire exits and evacuation procedures. The building appears light and ventilated and contact rooms are bright and cheerful with a range of furniture, toys, books, games and equipment to meet the needs of children of different ages. At the time of the report the non-resident parent was able to bring toys and resources for their child if they wished, as due to Covid19 the centre had condensed their resources. Bathrooms are clean, well maintained and child friendly. Sinks are low enough for children to use and there is equipment available to help them reach the toilets. There are separate male and female toilets in the same bathroom, and these are accessible to all service users. There is a CCTV camera in the contact room and there is no outside area in this setting.
Chances Gives Choices accepts a range of referrals from families and professionals. Currently 30% of the referrals are public law cases and the other 70% are made up of private law cases. Referrals come via social services, solicitors, and families themselves. Information for referrers is available from the centre directly or on the centre’s website. Information for referrers and parents is good and clear and there is always someone available to give more information from the centre should it be required. Their children’s leaflet has an introduction to the service, contact workers’ names, information about the centre and comes with an invitation to look around the centre. If a service user requires a translator, then this can be arranged but at the cost of the referring party. Transport can be provided for public law cases with car seats in appropriate sizes available at the centre.
Pre-visits are arranged and are carried out remotely or at the centre. A play schedule is started – stating sessions, times, and dates, along with contract and rules – and questions are answered to alleviate anxiety. Contact plans are agreed and signed by both the non-resident and the resident parent. These are personalised and reflect the family’s needs, preferences, and requirements – discussing all things relevant to contact sessions, such as the use of mobile phones, taking photos, gift exchange and food provision for the child.
Reviews are carried out for all contact work periodically or as needed when something changes for the family. The review gives a summary of the contact sessions so far, reviews any issues and recommendations are made for future work and to be able to make steps to move forward.
The co-ordinator established the organisation and is clearly passionate about the work that they do with families. They appear to have a happy staff team who are well supported to be able to do their job and are encouraged to further their career and take on new responsibilities. Health and safety is to an excellent standard and risk assessments are thorough. Safeguarding is in place, with training being given in all areas. Policies and procedures are to a good standard and reviewed annually. The organisation meets the requirements for enhanced (supervised contact) re-accreditation.