Paula and Laura jointly run Buzz Child Contact Centre, a newly accredited centre in Sheffield. They took over the running of centre last June and have supported 26 families since then… Contact takes place in designated rooms at St Andrews, close to the centre of Sheffield. They have a large hall with toys and games, a separate room for resident parents to sit in (if required), a snack bar with light refreshments at reasonable prices and a smaller room for quieter activities leading to a small, safe outdoor play area. Paula told us about how they work with children to ensure their service is supporting them effectively:

‘Getting to know me’ form

“At Buzz, children’s needs are always put first. We have a ‘Getting to know me form’ which is included in our Pre-visit pack. During their pre-visit, all children are asked to complete the form (with support from a volunteer/staff member or parent/carer), which includes questions such as what the child likes, dislikes and how they like to be supported. This helps staff and volunteers plan for the first session (activities and toys) and by sharing the information with the non-resident parent, it helps them find common ground with their child. This is especially useful if the child and parent haven’t met for a while.”

Feedback postbox

“We have a Post Box which we ensure is out every session. Children and parents/carers are given the opportunity at any point to leave staff a message. The process is confidential. These messages are checked after every session and are used to plan for future sessions.”

Feedback is also gathered at the reviews carried out with families…

‘I feel comfortable and secure. I was anxious at first but the centre seems very well run’ (Resident Parent)

‘Staff are very welcoming and easy to talk to’ (Resident Parent)

‘The staff are nice and friendly’ (Child)

‘Very good service, very tidy, plenty of toys, staff are kind, polite and very very helpful. Thank you for everything’ (Non-Resident Parent)

Keyworker system

Paula explained that they have a key worker system at Buzz which works well for them: “Families have a key person who they know they can talk to at any-time. This helps us to build good relationships with families. This is also useful for professionals (social workers etc) as they have a named person to talk to directly about specific families.”

‘What to do if’ notice board

To ensure they act efficiently and appropriately with regards to safeguarding and child protection, they have a ‘What to do if…’ Safeguarding Board. Paula explained why this is so important: “This board is kept downstairs in the kitchen and is easily viewed by all staff and volunteers (we also have the same display in our staff office). On the board, there is a simple step by step process of what to do if a parent/carer arrives at the centre under the influence of alcohol or if they begin to display aggressive behaviour. The information is taken directly from our policies but simplified. Important contact numbers are also included on the board. We also have the NACCC safeguarding phone number and flowchart displayed.”

Christmas party that the families would remember!

Paula also told us that they had real life Reindeers at their contact centre session on 23rd December which was really exciting! She told us “Laura and I have been so excited since we took over the Contact Centre we thought we would plan a Christmas Party for the families that they would remember! We felt that it was so tough for the non-resident parents to not see their children on Christmas day, so thought we would organise a special day for them to enjoy together! We had reindeers, snow (machine!), Christmas crafts and even a special visit from Santa and his elves!”  

Buzz Sheffield is a registered charity and has been running services for vulnerable and isolated people since 1999. In addition to the contact centre (which operates on a Saturday on a fortnightly basis), they provide out of school activities for disadvantaged children, a youth club, holiday activities, parents classes, crèches, Stay and Play groups and an older people’s group. They also host regular international evenings and intergenerational events within the community. Do checkout their website:

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