Runcorn Child Contact Centre was established in 1996 and together with Widnes operates jointly as Halton Child Contact Centre. It opens on alternate Saturday afternoons from 1.45 to 3.45 with Widnes operating on the opposite week. Both Widnes and Runcorn Centres were closed for most of the pandemic with Runcorn re-opening in September 2021. The centre operates from church premises (Christ Church) but is not part of it and does not run any other services. The centre’s website includes referrals forms and information as well as a parents’ information leaflet.
Christ Church is a convenient venue with good transport links – a bus stops by the contact centre and there is a small car park. There is good disabled access to both main front entrance and rear from the outside area.
The main contact room is light and airy and pleasantly furnished though without comfortable seating such as settees because it is the main worship area for the church. The small outside area is secure with a safe surface. The kitchen is not used by parents and they wait if necessary in the foyer. The centre was not in use during the accreditation visit so it was not set out for a session.
One of the committee members has recently taken on the role of co-ordinator and has already attended co-ordinator training with the Deputy Chair covering if necessary, who has also attended the co-ordinator training. The co-ordinator is to start recruiting for new volunteers as there has not been any recruitment in the past three years.
Because the centre was closed for so long during the pandemic and at the time of the report had only very recently re-opened, none of the previous families have returned and new referral numbers are still building up. The centre was only taking a small number of families at each session with some attending both centres so that they can have weekly attendance. The centre undertakes comprehensive pre-contact meetings that include the children and two staff. Risks are assessed and families often refused if supervised contact is more appropriate.
This is a long-established centre and a lot of work has been done during the reaccreditation process to bring Runcorn fully into line with NACCC standards. It now fully deserves to be reaccredited.