Ward Andrews is an independent ‘not for profit’ Social Work and Family Consultancy with a dedicated centre that offers a base for assessment work and a place for contact. It has been open for seven years and in its present location in Woolstone, a very pleasant area of Milton Keynes, close to Willen Park, for five years. The centre is in a large family house with four well-equipped and comfortable rooms for families to meet. It offers a garden and kitchen for families to use, making the centre as much like a home as is possible. Families can also take advantage of the local parks for contact following proper risk assessments. The centre’s location is not far from the town centre and is on a bus route. It opens 6 days a week including Saturdays and Sundays.
The building, a former family home is very child friendly and equipped to a high standard. The centre provides a wide range of age-appropriate toys in a series of very comfortable rooms – set up for both older and younger children – with the kitchen and garden space enhancing the range of experiences available for families using the centre. It is all spotlessly clean and complies with statutory regulations, which are verified by the necessary certification, eg gas safety, PAT certificates, and fire appliances. Emergency procedures are clear and understood and appropriate signage, fire extinguishers, fire blankets and alarms are in place, as are the required notices, of fire evacuation routes, Health and Safety at Work and what to do in case of a safeguarding incident.
Each family has a designated member of staff who is responsible for the pre-visits and risk assessments, with a second person introduced in case the other is unavailable. The centre recognises the importance of consistency and the opportunity to build relationships and trust with the facilitator. Arrival times are staggered, and separate waiting areas are available although the parent who lives with the child does not stay on site, and always leaves first at the end of the session to enable a safe exit. The centre does not do home visits or provide transport. The only outside visits are to the local park which are thoroughly risk assessed and staff always have access to a mobile in case of difficulty. Should something occur, the worker can call the centre and someone will come to assist and the contact will end.
Information regarding the centre’s location, opening times, services, contact details, premises, referral process, charges and procedures are readily available either on the website or in separate documentation. The website is easy to navigate and professionally presented. Children are the centre of the process and great care is taken to ensure that they are comfortable and confident prior to contact commencing, so the pre-visit is crucial and as much time as needed is devoted to this. Parents are reminded that the focus of attention is to be the child. A wide selection of age-appropriate toys and games is provided. The centre uses the ‘smiley face’ evaluation form for children, and parents can add ideas to the suggestion box or write a Google review.
Ward Andrews offers an excellent service to its families in a comfortable warm setting, more like a home than a centre. All the staff are well qualified, well trained, and very professional and have the needs of children at the heart of everything they do. They demonstrate sensitivity to the complex demands and needs of the children and seek to encourage good parenting skills whenever is appropriate. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.