Derby Child Contact Centre is a busy and vibrant supported contact centre based in the East Midlands city of Derby. It has recently moved to a new venue which meets their needs well. The city has extensive rail and bus links with other areas of the country. The M1 motorway passes about ten miles (16 km) east of the city, linking Derby southwards to the London area and northwards to Sheffield and Leeds.
The centre is now in a large traditional church / school building which is modern and friendly in its appearance with bright and airy spaces that are child friendly, clean, and well decorated. They benefit from a large car park, external play area and an expansive range of toys and activities for children and families at the centre to use. The building has a small reception area, and the families then have several rooms that they can utilise for the purpose of contact. As parents enter the centre through the main entrance, they are greeted at the reception area by volunteers situated at this space welcoming families to the service and monitoring those who come and go from the service. The centre is well decorated with a range of children’s artwork and images inviting to children. The building has two entrances and exits meaning that parents can utilise different doors. The centre has child friendly bathrooms, as well as a range of other furniture accessible to children. Snacks are server through a serving hatch from a small kitchenette. An outdoor space is available, with padded flooring, that can be used for ball games and other more energetic activities.
The centre would accept referrals from local authorities, Cafcass, solicitors or the court as well as self-referrals. Typically, referrals come to the service as either self-referrals or solicitor enquiries. The centre does not currently have a need for waiting lists, although this has been a theme in the past. The centre has explored the possibility of opening a second site to respond to the demand for their services.
Several families use the service at any one time and all families engaging with the service are offered a pre-visit. This is not always possible for non-resident parents and children that might not live nearby, however, it is strongly encouraged so that children feel comfortable and ready for the service they are about to receive. Families are supported by the centre during pre-visit sessions and have other opportunities to have their questions answered. The centre has staggered arrivals and departures and are also able to ensure that families stay separate where necessary. The centre is keen to help families to move on from the service in a timely way, they undertake reviews with families helping them to think about the future and what will be happening when they no longer need to use the centre.
The centre’s volunteer co-ordinator is a child and family solicitor and is experienced in helping families to overcome the difficulties they face. The co-ordinator has been running the centre for a significant amount of time and is familiar with their role and what this entails and will be working with other volunteers to share the role as time goes by. This is a very popular service in terms of the number of families that it caters for, and they also have a large volunteer group, which is a measure of the commitment and motivation of the co-ordinator in terms of making sure that the local community are aware of the centre and the work that it does. On the day of the accreditation visit all volunteers were observed to be wearing badges that clearly identify them as safe people for children to be able to approach should they feel the need to do this.
Derby Child Contact Centre is a well-established contact centre with significant experience working with children and their families and meets the standards for supported contact reaccreditation.