Impact Family Services (IFS) is a long-standing and well-established charity which runs a range of contact activities as well as other services in relation to domestic abuse and SPIP (Separated Parents Information Programme). A new centre for contact has recently been acquired at Hedworthfield Community Association in Jarrow. It is available for contact on two Saturdays per month. This venue is easily accessible by car. On-site parking is available, but the carpark often gets full in football season; at these times there is parking in surrounding residential areas. There are also local Metro and bus links.
Hedworthfield Community Association is an excellent facility with a café where parents can wait with good outdoor spaces as well as spacious well-furnished and equipped contact rooms. There is good disabled access everywhere and the glass in the windows is glazed in a way that prevents anyone being able to see inside so privacy can be maintained. Toilets are clean and well-maintained and there are special children’s toilets as well as baby-changing facilities. If needed, family members can use separate entrances and exits as well as staggered arrival and departure times.
The Service Manager for Contact Services is a long standing well-qualified social worker and practice supervisor. The staff are sessional and there is also a partnership with Sunderland University which enables social work students to have their placements with IFS. Comprehensive information about the services can be found on the centre’s website, including a clear statement on what each service costs as well as the detailed information required for the referral. Both parents sign the rules for contact and plans with safeguarding procedures in place. Parents and children are thoroughly prepared but at the time of the visit coronavirus has meant contact had to be arranged virtually.
Children’s interests are given prominence in the Contact Services’ processes. Preparatory work is offered when necessary as well as pre-visits. The contact rooms at Hedworthfield Community Association are very attractive and well-stocked with toys and games for various ages. There are two boards that illustrate children’s rights and it is evident from the casefiles that children’s wishes and feelings are taken into account. Arrangements for handovers etc. are clear. Feedback processes have been set up to obtain feedback by text which it is hoped will be more effective and child-friendly than paper forms. Home visits and community contact are offered with staff not using their own vehicles to transport children.
Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.