Widnes Child Contact Centre was established in 1994 and together with Runcorn operates jointly as Halton Child Contact Centre. It opens on alternate Saturday afternoons from 1.45 to 3.45 with Runcorn operating on the opposite week. Both Widnes and Runcorn Centres were closed for most of the pandemic with Widnes re-opening in June 2021. The centre operates on church premises 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.
Widnes and Hough Green railway stations are on the Liverpool–Manchester line. East Midlands Railway links Widnes station at hourly intervals throughout the day to Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Sheffield, Nottingham, and Norwich. However, passengers to and from London, the Midlands and the South are likely to use Runcorn station and make the short journey across the Mersey Gateway Bridge by bus or taxi. The main roads through the town are the A557 in a north–south direction and the A562 east–west. In 2017, the Mersey Gateway Bridge opened. The M62 is nearby. There are local bus services that pass the premises.
Widnes Contact Centre operates in Trinity Methodist Church. The premises are light and area and there is a small secure outside area. The contact takes place in the main hall which has doors to the outside area. Entry is through the main door and there has been special signing in arrangements for safety during the pandemic. Families do not go into the kitchen and there is a waiting area at the end of the corridor by a rear exit. Volunteers sit in the reception area/coffee lounge from which there is a good view of the hall.
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 Widnes fully into line with NACCC standards. It now fully deserves to be reaccredited.