Project West Assessment & Contact Services has been operating since 2005 – an independent family centre organisation with dedicated premises in Northolt. The team at Project West are experienced in providing a high standard for child contact and assessment centre based services and a good proportion of the centre’s work is after school and weekend contact sessions. The centre since their last reaccreditation continues to have a service level agreement with the Borough of Ealing to provide parenting assessments and contact services. The centre takes self-referrals from clients all over England and on some occasions further afield. The centre is ideally situated near to Northolt underground station (a 5-minute walk away) with a very good bus service. The tube line runs into central London as well as Southwest areas. If driving to the centre, it can be reached off the A40/A312.
The centre is a semi-detached accessible bungalow that provides a welcoming and family home environment. It is located in a residential road with parking available on the centre’s forecourt or on the side roads. An alternative entrance is available via a side gate if required. The centre is well maintained, clean, bright and inviting, both from the outside and inside. There is a small office located at the front of the building where workers can see who is coming to the centre. On entering the building staff and families report to the reception area, next to the kitchen and sign the signing in book. The rooms at Project West are in a good decorative order, bright, inviting and there is a small kitchen area (currently not available due to Covid restrictions) that can be used by parents if they wish to heat up food or prepare bottles for babies. Children are not allowed in the kitchen area. The centre has a good variety of equipment that children can use during their contact sessions including a good selection of multi-cultural equipment that reflects the clients using the service. The centre has a safe outdoor garden play area which is well maintained. The centre has adult toilets that meet the requirements for NACCC.
At the time of the report, on entry to the centre it stated clearly that face coverings should still be worn (unless clients/staff are exempt) although clients could remove them during the contact session. Social distancing was being adhered to along with good ventilation in the contact rooms/area. Clients were bringing their own toys but the centre if required was providing toys for the families to use which after use were being cleaned by the staff.
The centre has a very informative website that states clearly what is available and families/referrers can download referral forms and complete online. The centre encourages children to visit the centre before contact starts as it is of a high importance that they know what the centre looks like, where things are and hopefully get a sense of the centre’s facilities. This is usually conducted when the contact planning meeting is arranged. The centre has a child friendly leaflet with pictures explaining the role of a child contact centre.
The co-ordinators ensure that staff are allocated to families with two named workers for consistency. They ensure all staff are clear of what needs to be observed during the contact sessions and potential risks. Reviews are set for all families when the contact agreement meetings are held and it is made clear to all that they must attend. All are given minutes regarding the outcome of the meeting. The contact supervisors or coordinators, when invited will attend the Local Authority reviews. Contact meetings are arranged either face to face or virtually. The social worker is the main worker who will use their own vehicle for transporting children (the other contact supervisors do not use their own vehicles and will use public transport for transporting children). Children are brought to the centre by the resident parent or if the centre is facilitating a contact session for the local borough, children are brought to the centre by their foster carer or use the allocated taxi firm registered with the local social services borough.
The centre is in a very culturally diverse area of London and the staff team reflect the families attending. The Director is an experienced social worker, knowledgeable and skilled with the court arena. They have support from their board members as well as the staff team, especially the co-ordinator and deputy. The service has a multi-disciplinary team which provides services in all areas of child contact, parenting assessments, family support and mentoring. The centre ensures the protection and safety of children and young people by providing a forum where parents and children/young people can be together in a safe caring environment with a staff team who work with the family to promote good parenting skills.
The centre provides a good quality service for their users and staff and any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) reaccreditation.