New Dawn Child Contact Centre is situated in the Shirley Baptist Church, in Shirley in Southampton. The Contact centre is held within a building to the back of the church. There is a car park to the back of Shirley Baptist Church which is most easily found by inputting the postcode SO15 5LJ (Crown Street) into a Sat-Nav or Google maps and the Carey Hall entrance which can be found in Church Street via the walkway at the left-hand end of the halls. Transport to the centre is good, there are excellent bus links, and the train station is accessible too. The local area has shops and supermarkets close by.
The room in which contact takes place can cater for up to 10 children in any one session and is a typical church hall space with chairs and storage cupboards around the outside of the room.
The centre has a range of toys and equipment suitable for all ages. Parents have been bringing in their own toys during the Pandemic. Toys are cleaned regularly and on a rotational basis. There is no outside area. Separate entrances and exits are available if there is conflict between parents or a court order in place.
The co-ordinator has been in post since 2004 working part-time. The centre is currently recruiting for an assistant co-ordinator. There is a bank of regular volunteers who work at the centre, most of whom are retired. The co-ordinator and trustees are trying to recruit new volunteers and would like to gain interest from the younger demographic. During covid, when numbers of attending families was low (usually one at a time) the centre ran with 2 volunteers and one or two for remote contact, via Zoom. During “normal” times, the centre always operates with 3 volunteers at least and if needed they can provide 4 – 6 volunteers for sessions if they are exceptionally busy. The co-ordinator will limit the number of children in each contact session to 10 to ensure safe working practices and child protection.
The co-ordinator receives referral paperwork and ensures that this is sufficient to decide whether the referral is appropriate for supported contact. They then carry out pre-visits with the resident parent and non-resident parent separately (accompanied by the assistant co-ordinator or another volunteer). Copies of court reports are gained if applicable and parents are asked for any notes they have if they attended a supervised contact centre. The expectation of the parents moving forward is made very clear to both the non-resident and the resident parent. Volunteers are given the information that they need to ensure that they are working safely and are aware of the risks involved with different families. The co-ordinator carries out a review of the contact sessions with parents and helps parents to move on in their contact sessions. The main objective is that parents spend a short time at the centre and are equipped to move their contact into the local community.
The co-ordinator is clearly passionate about their role, can lead the volunteer team and is well versed in working with families going through divorce and separation. They clearly meet the requirements for NACCC accreditation.