Sevenoaks Child Contact Centre first opened in 2009 due to a need in the area for the service – highlighted through Vine Evangelical Church, the organisation running this project. The supported contact service was first started by the co-ordinator who continues to manage the service along with volunteers affiliated with the church. The centre has good transport links – being only a 10-minute walk from the train station and served by a bus stop. They do not have their own parking – but there is plenty of street parking nearby.
The centre is clean, well-lit, and has ample space for families across two rooms (even during the pandemic with social distancing in place). Access to the centre is via a main door at the front of the building. The doors are windowed and so families are identifiable prior to entering. On entering the building, families enter straight into reception where the family are greeted by volunteers and signed in, which includes taking a mobile number from resident parents in case of emergency. The service has access to two rooms – the main hall and a smaller hall on the first floor. The upper room can be divided in the event of covid restrictions returning. The rooms are occupied by at least two volunteers, are large and set out with tables and chairs. Whilst the service would normally provide activities and toys – parents now provide these which the service says works well.
The service does not promote a waiting room, although does have access to another room if necessary. This room is usually accessed for completing pre-visits. The centre has three toilets (ladies, gents, and accessible toilets) which are clean and in a good state of repair. There is a well-equipped kitchen, which has a food safety rating of 5, however, the service only provides hot drinks. As covid reduces, the centre will reintroduce refreshments such as biscuits and fruit.
Sevenoaks Child Contact Centre accept referrals from NACCC’s Safe Referral System, self-referrals, and referrals from solicitors. For each referral type there is a different form, and in the event of self-referrals, both parents must complete a form. The service follows up with a contact plan for all parties, including the children, who attend for a pre-visit at the same time as the resident parent and look around whilst the resident parent plan is being completed. The pre-visit takes place at the centre when the service is running, making use of a meeting room and then the families attend the next available session. The centre also carries out a review of contact with parents.
The service is well managed and organised, with a good-sized team of volunteers. The co-ordinator, having been in post for over a decade, is clearly committed to the role and is able to manage the challenges of running a supported service well. Their team is experienced and are committed and passionate towards the work they do.
This centre meets the requirements of supported contact re-accreditation.