Church Street Child Contact Centre is located in Slough, Berkshire and has been running since 2006. It was set up due to the demands of families requesting supported contact and neighbouring contact centres, Maidenhead, Slough and Bracknell having long waiting lists (since the pandemic unfortunately both Maidenhead and Slough supported contact centres have closed). The centre receives referrals via solicitors, self-referrals, socials services and occasionally Cafcass.
The centre uses two entrances, one for the non-resident parent and the other for the resident parents/children with staggered arrival and departure times in place. All entrances and exits are clearly identified and all families partaking in contact are registered by two volunteers, stationed at both entrances who mark down the time of arrival/departure. Contact is held in the main church, where the church has removed pews at the back end of the church. The centre has a waiting area for resident families although due to the pandemic this was currently unavailable with resident parents waiting in their car or going to a local café.
The contact area was bright, inviting, friendly and welcoming with plenty of activities available for families to use and it was clear to the assessor that the children appeared to be enjoying their time and space at the centre with their parent. There are several large areas where families can play with their children, be allocated a table and play indoor football/swing ball etc. On the day of the visit, many parents had brought their own toys for their children to play with. Volunteers are positioned at various allocated areas in the hall so they can observe the session. They also provide refreshments for the families attending the centre, if required and for the resident parents if they are remaining in the centre (no families are allowed in the kitchen/refreshment area). Toilets are off the main contact area and are all in a very good state of cleanliness. This area has paper towels and soap along with hot water for hand washing. All furniture and fittings were in a good state of repair and the centre had a strict cleaning regime to ensure equipment was thoroughly cleaned after use.
Referrers and parents can contact the centre by phone or via email. All referrers are informed about contact being held in a church so that families are very clear about the setting. The centre can cater for up to twelve families at a time, depending on the numbers of children attending and size of families plus to ensure good social distancing. Once the co-ordinator has accepted a referral, they will call the parent/s or referrer to arrange a time for the family to visit separately, including the children. These visits take place before proposed contact so that the parents and children have a chance to see the centre in operation, what is available, location, travel time to centre and gain an understanding of the rules and regulations of the centre. It also gives the children the experience playing in a different environment and what activities are on offer and agreements of what toys the visiting parent will be bringing to the session. The co-ordinator or deputy co-ordinator conducts the interviews in the centre whilst in operation and informs the parent/s that they will inform them the outcome. Families are also informed that contact is not a long-term arrangement, that the centre will encourage families to move on. During the contact pre-visit a review date will be set to discuss how families are progressing.
The centre co-ordinator has been volunteering at the centre since it opened in 2006 with a deputy co-ordinator who supports with referrals and pre contact visits. The contact centre is well staffed with volunteers although the co-ordinator said they would welcome more volunteers, so they do not have to be on duty so regularly. The volunteers are experienced and are dedicated and supportive to their role and all wear name badges so as to be easily identified at the centre.
Church Street Child Contact Centre is well organised and all involved are very dedicated to their roles. The assessor was able to speak to several visiting parents who said that without this great facility they would not be able to see their children and are very grateful for the support and time the volunteers have to ensure this service continues. The centre meets NACCC’s national standards required for supported centres.