St Mary’s Family Centre is a charitable organisation established in 1992 providing supervised contact service and family support work. They accept supervised contact referrals from the London Borough of Croydon, surrounding boroughs and private law solicitors. The service has a well-equipped large outside play area with its own car park and is staffed by an experienced team of qualified child-care staff and social workers. St Mary’s Family Centre is on the site of the Convent of Our Lady of Fidelity, with the centre’s entrance accessed via Our Lady’s Close. This can be found at the top of Hermitage Road, just off Central Hill with good local bus and rail links. Information about the service can be found on the centre’s easy-to-use website or in the leaflets provided.
The centre has the use of three contact rooms, of which are of a high standard of decoration and cleanliness along with plenty of natural light. There is a small kitchen, two office spaces, reception area and a waiting area. There are toilets available (including one suitable for disabled persons) on the ground floor including baby changing facilities. The rooms next to the centre are used for a pre-school, 9.00am-4.30pm (term time only) and so during this time the contact centre cannot use the outdoor area.
At the time of the visit face masks were not required although social distancing was in operation. Throughout the building there are hand sanitisers along with cleaning products (stored in a secure cupboard) and hand sanitisers in each room. There is an excellent range of equipment for all ages of children to use during their contact sessions. At the time of the visit due to Covid 19 families were encouraged to bring their own toys but could use the centre’s toys which were cleaned as appropriate.
The service has a small team of qualified staff, with the relevant qualifications and experience to supervise contact sessions and the necessary Covid 19 risk assessments and processes were in place. Contact workers have panic buttons in the rooms in case of emergencies when supervising contact sessions and the deputy manager ensures that two named workers are allocated to families for consistency. During the contact planning meeting families are informed of the processes and services they will be getting and by whom. The centre will provide an interpreter for families if required, but the charge will be met either by the client or referrer. Staff do not use their own transport for escorting children who are either brought to the centre by the foster carer or the parent.
The team has worked hard in providing the necessary documents for their re-accreditation. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.