Winton Salvation Army child contact centre has been running since 2018 and is run by the local branch of the Salvation Army charity. The contact centre is just off the main road through Winton, there is a large range of shops and plenty of things to do for visiting families. Transport to the centre is excellent, with regular bus and train services. There is a large car park adjacent to the centre. The centre does not charge families and they also cover the cost of refreshments which helps to limit the costs incurred by parents using their service.
Within the entrance there is a reception area where a volunteer is placed, ready to welcome and sign parents in/out of the centre. There are options for using different entrances/exits if needed to help manage any conflict between parents. The centre has an area for parents to wait should this be necessary. Children are accompanied down a corridor by a member of the team to meet their parent waiting in the contact room. The space used for contact sessions is large and can cater for up to six families. The centre uses two big rooms which are separated with sliding doors. They also have extra space for when the centre is busy and/or if there are families with additional requirements. The space used for contact is large and there are comfy sofas and lots of resources for children and young people. The toy cupboard is well stocked for a range of ages and stages of children with a large range of toys, resources and craft materials (there were no soft toys at the time of the report due to Covid19 restrictions). There is also a football/pool table for older children to use. Volunteers serve refreshments to families from a bar area. There are three bathrooms available – one with disabled access and a baby change. The bathrooms are clean, well maintained and have equipment available to assist children.
Referrals are received from solicitors, mediation services, self-referrals and court with the majority of referrals coming direct from parents and mediators. Leaflets are available describing the contact centre and what it does. If the co-ordinator is unsure about the level of risk with a family, they will seek clarification from the referring party or professional working with them and if referrals are inappropriate then they are signposted to supervised contact. The co-ordinator then carries out a pre-contact visit in which risks are addressed and discussed. Again, if a family were deemed to be too risky then they are referred to a supervised contact centre. Pre-visits are always carried out with another volunteer in attendance. Where possible children come to the pre-visits to help ease any worries or anxieties. At the time of the report the numbers of families using the centre was low, however if numbers increased then the centre could recruit more volunteers if needed. Families are reviewed every three months; this is done in an informal manner between parent and coordinator. Feedback is gathered from families as they leave the centre.
The co-ordinator has good experience in co-ordinating this centre and has been doing so for four years, along with their team of volunteers. They are present for every other contact session on a Saturday and are supported by two colleagues. At the time of the report there were eight volunteers working regularly for the centre and had been assisting contact between 3 and 20 years. All staff and volunteers are aware of safeguarding and child protection, and they receive regular training across a range of topics which supports the delivery of the service.
Winton Salvation Army has been affected by Covid19 which has depleted the number of families accessing the centre over the last two years. Children and young people are well catered for, health and safety is of a good standard and checks are made every session. This is a well-established contact centre, providing a good level of service, with children at the heart of what is being done. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for supported contact re-accreditation.