Eastleigh Child Contact Centre is situated in Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh within the Methodist church. The contact centre has been open for almost 20 years with the co-ordinator being in post the whole time. Access to the centre is good, with excellent transport links – train station and bus routes – and the centre has a car park. The centre is used as a community venue which means that lots of events and activities are held here. This helps to ensure that health and safety is well maintained. There are shops and parks near to the centre, which helps with community contact. Within Eastleigh there are parks and leisure centres, cinemas, large supermarkets and places to eat.
The contact centre is running from the Methodist church hall which provides a large and bright area for up to six families at once, depending on their reasons for using the centre and the size of the family. The centre is accessible to those with mobility needs. The hall used for contact is large, bright and spacious, with colourful walls and displays which makes it child friendly. This contact room can accommodate 6 families at a time, depending on the size of the family. The kitchen area appears clean and maintained and is only accessible to volunteers and staff. Refreshments are made in the kitchen and passed out through the hatch to parents. The kitchen can also be used as a waiting room if needed for resident parents. This is managed by the volunteers/staff on duty. A separate entrance and exit is available. There is no outside space but handovers can be facilitated and community contact is viable due to the nature of where the centre is in Chandlers Ford.
Referrals come via solicitors, Cafcass, court, parents self-referring, mediation and children’s services (social care). Pre-visit checklists are completed for both parties, this contains information about risks such as mental health, safeguarding and abuse, alcohol/drugs/substance misuse, religious/cultural issues, medical or disability issues, risk of abduction and parental conflict/alienation/domestic abuse/violence. When things change with families in terms of risk then this information is passed on to those who need to know and records are updated. The co-ordinator ensures that enough information is sought about family issues to keep volunteers and families safe. A separate entrance/exit is provided, as is a staggered arrival and departure time which helps to reduce the risk of parents coming into contact with each other if this is not deemed as safe or appropriate, either by the court or parents themselves.
The co-ordinator is a very experienced and their job as an independent domestic violence adviser ensures that they have a good knowledge of risk and of how to manage it. It is clear that the co-ordinator is able to make good decisions around referrals and the level of support that families need. This is a centre which is operating at the higher end of need in terms of supported contact, however, the assessor would deem this appropriate as both the co-ordinator and their deputy work for the Local Authority and know what to do if they have any concerns about a family. The co-ordinator and deputy appear to have a good working partnership and support each other within their roles.
Eastleigh Child Contact Centre is a busy centre run by a very experienced and knowledgeable co-ordinator and deputy. There is currently a very small team of volunteers and so the management team are looking to recruit. Health and safety standards are good and safeguarding knowledge and processes are in place. Policies are up to date and in accordance with NACCC standards. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for supported contact re-accreditation.