Diamonds Kidz Contact Services, Leytonstone has been in operation for three years (previously as an outreach centre), facilitating private and local authority referrals. The centre is well resourced with sessional volunteer contact workers, good size contact rooms and equipment for families. The service has a board of trustees who manage funding and management of the service, with the coordinator managing the day-to-day running of referrals and contact sessions. Diamonds Kidz operates out of two venues that are hired when contact sessions are booked. These are Epic Centre in Leytonstone and Harmony Hall in Walthamstowe. The nearest stations to the Leytonstowe centre are Leytonstone overground and Central line. The centre is approximately a 5-minute walking distance from Leytonstone overground and an 8-minute walk from Leytonstone underground station. Leytonstone bus station stands either side of exits for Leytonstone tube station; key routes include the 257 to Stratford, and the W15 to Hackney.
The Epic Centre is a community centre in the middle of Leytonstone, with a good transport links along with limited free parking and is located down a short lane opposite the fire station. It is an accessible building with disabled facilities and Diamonds Kidz hires the first-floor area for all contact services. The rooms (including four contact rooms) are off the main corridor of the building, are in a good decorative order and are maintained to a good standard with a good variety of equipment for all ages of children to use during their contact sessions. A small waiting room for clients is available and there is a small kitchen area that can be used by the clients if required. The centre has adult toilets that meet the requirements for NACCC, including a disabled toilet and baby/toddler changing facilities available. A children’s park is used with clients with a variety of climbing equipment and swings, along with a small football pitch. The centre will provide, if required an interpreter for families but the charge will be met either by the client or referrer.
At the time of the report due to the pandemic, families on occasions were bringing in their own toys to use during the contact sessions. On entry to the building it stated clearly that face coverings should still be worn and throughout the building although this was not compulsory. Hand sanitisers could be found in the corridors and in each room with social distancing being adhered to along with good ventilation in the contact rooms/area.
The centre’s easy-to-use website states clear information about operating operations. All families are clear about charges, opening hours, contact numbers, email address, location of premises, where contact sessions are held along with signed rules for service users. Clients need to call the centre regarding costs for service. The centre website has a clear map showing where centres are located along with information on public transport and parking areas if families travel by car. On the centre’s website it is made clear to clients and referrers that they hire the hall on the following day, so not to come to the centre without prior arrangement.
The centre co-ordinator ensures that volunteer contact supervisors are allocated to families with two named workers for consistency. Reviews are completed for parents self-referring and if required, the co-ordinator or contact supervisor will attend the reviews for looked-after-children. There is an additional charge to the client if specific workers need to attend, which is made clear at the contact planning meeting.
All community sessions have an updated risk assessment completed and careful, discreet supervision is maintained by the contact workers. Contact workers at the centre do not use their own vehicle for transporting children. Children are either brought to the centre by the resident parent or if the centre is facilitating a contact session for the local borough, children are brought to the centre by their foster carer or use the allocated taxi firm registered with the local social services borough. Contact workers have use of a mobile phone, panic button in room and additional risk assessments are completed.
The service has a small team of qualified staff, ranging from social workers, health and social care and child-care workers. The workers are all volunteers at the centre and work as required. The coordinator organises the times and dates for all workers along with managing the families. The co-ordinator ensures all contact workers are clear of what needs to be observed during the contact sessions and potential risks. The volunteer supervisors only receive expenses for travel and food as they do not get paid for the sessions. They enjoy offering their expertise skills to the centre as the centre’s ethos is to ensure services are affordable to all who use them. Monies raised goes for hiring of venues and attending relevant courses with NACCC etc.
The co-ordinator continues to strive to make a real contribution to families who attend the centre. It is clear from discussions with them that clear communication is of the upmost importance to ensure the smooth running of the centre/s. The Trustees of the service have appreciated all the workers’ hard work in getting the centre to a high standard and implementing changes that have benefitted all who work at the centre as well as the families.
The centre provides a good quality service for their users and volunteer contact workers. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.