YMCA Family Work is part of YMCA North Staffordshire (YMCANS) which is a large organisation with a complex that includes accommodation for young people and a range of activities and services. Although it is a Christian organisation it seeks to provide opportunities and services to everyone with a strong commitment to equality and diversity. The contact services have been provided since 2003 and at the time of the report these include supervised, supported, indirect and virtual. There is also a contract for the Cafcass Improving Child and Family Arrangements (ICFA) programme. The contact service is easily accessible by train and bus and there is on-site car parking.
The Family Work project has a self-contained office and two rooms for supervised contact in the Activity Centre. The larger contact room and a small kitchen (not generally used by families) are on the first floor. Supported contact currently takes place in the Dance studio which was being used for badminton during the assessor visit and so was not set up for contact. This venue may change and move to a children’s centre. An outdoor play area was used prior to Covid but wasn’t in use due to the current restrictions. Generally, the contact facilities are well-maintained and safe with child-friendly resources, although for supported contact parents are asked to bring their own toys during Covid restrictions. Toilets are clean and well-maintained.
YMCA Family Work provides information for referrers and parents on its website with welcome packs and details of the various services. Children are included in all the various processes and there is a good preparation presentation called ‘Getting to know Bethany’ which helps to elicit children’s wishes and feelings. They are offered pre-visits, but other work may sometimes have taken place that removes the need for these. Staggered arrivals and departures are put in place as there are not separate entrances available. YMCANS has a policy that covers staff driving their own cars and for transporting children (although this rarely happens) and safety measures are in place for home visits and lone working.
The centre’s staffing had undergone a difficult transition period at the time of the report due to financial problems arising from Covid but generally families have had the same worker throughout their work programme. At the time of the report there was a need to recruit volunteers for the supported centre urgently and family numbers remained limited in the meantime. YMCA Family Work is well-run with good facilities when not restricted by Covid arrangements and meets the requirement for enhanced (supervised) re-accreditation.