Welcome to our newsletter. Again, this is a bumper issue packed with lots of information for you. Thanks so much to everyone who has contributed. Do let us know what you think and please do share as widely as you can, to your staff and volunteers, management committee and supporters. We want to spread the message far and wide…
I have thought long and hard about the message in this welcome piece as I always try to be positive about how NACCC and centres are progressing, but felt it was important to acknowledge the difficulties for all of us of implementing GDPR. This came upon us, not without warning, but without knowing just how onerous and difficult it was going to be for both NACCC and centres to implement. Whilst we knew about the data protection act, the implications of GDPR were more far reaching and required us all to meet more rigorous tests to ensure we were working within the law. It was a steep learning curve for NACCC staff and we cannot begin to imagine how it felt for centres, although you did share some of the anguish with us. Many of you thought us unreasonable to expect you to demonstrate compliance, but we felt very strongly that as a responsible organisation, and one who could reassure parents, children and the government of our ability to protect information, that it was necessary to gain certification. Many of you had been in touch with the ICO who were giving mixed messages about the need for certification, but NACCC required this to protect both NACCC and contact centres. See below:
- The level of fines for breach of GDPR is published in the regulations, The ICO have stated that in the first instance they will only move against those organisations who are “wantonly ignoring” the regulation.
- The steps taken by NACCC in asking for certification ensures we are not “wantonly ignoring” the regulations. Passing sensitive personal data to an organisation for whom you have no evidence of compliance could be construed as “wantonly ignoring” the regulation. It is not a risk NACCC wishes to take. NACCC is concerned that the GDPR as it is enacted gives ample opportunity for vexatious legal action should we not be demonstrably compliant.
NACCC successfully negotiated on behalf of centres with an organisation to certify centres at a very competitive price. NACCC did not as has been suggested, benefit financially from this arrangement but did it in the hope that it was helpful to centres. To date most centres have successfully completed the process.
NACCC has also been working hard on behalf of centres in raising awareness of the value of centres to children and families both with MPs many of whom are visiting centres and through the All Party Parliamentary Group (see article in the newsletter). With visiting MPs it is a good opportunity to showcase your centre by taking photographs and putting an article in the local press about your centre, and that child contact can take place without recourse to courts. Many parents do not know this. It may also be an opportunity with local organisations such as Rotary, Lions, Freemasons, and supermarkets to get some additional funding.
It is always a matter of great sadness when we hear at NACCC that a centre is closing. Some have closed because they have not been able to recruit a coordinator or have run out of funds. I know that some of these centres have been against charging for the service. It is questionable whether a parent would rather lose the service or contribute to it to keep it going. A small charge might mean that a centre could pay a coordinator. Alternatively, some centres could join forces with others and have a paid coordinator to manage more than one centre. In this age of strapped budgets and changes in legislation it is challenging to keep centres going, and at NACCC we take our hat off to all of you who turn up week after week to ensure children have their rights upheld by offering the excellent service that you do.
We need to act now to prevent the unravelling of the network
Centres are closing. Not due to lack of funds or referrals, although this is an issue for some. Centres are closing because they cannot find a volunteer co-ordinator to take their work forward.
Not able to recruit? Is it time to employ a co-ordinator to keep your centre open?
Feedback from the first All-Party Parliamentary Group on Child Contact Centres and Services
The first APPG on Child Contact Centres and Services was held in Parliament in June. The group has been set up to strengthen our engagement with MPs and Lords to discuss issues around child contact and raise awareness of child contact centres and services in Parliament.
The vital role of the interpreter at contact centres
The needs of separated families wishing to use contact centres are already complex but if the first language of a family is different to that of the centre’s staff and volunteers, then this will need addressing as well…
Canterbury law students volunteering to help their local community
Student volunteers from Canterbury Christ Church University Law School are volunteering their time at the CLOCK project providing civil legal assistance to those whom are no longer eligible for legal aid.
We welcomed Phil Coleman, NACCC’s new Service Development Manager to the team earlier this year. His responsibilities include overseeing safeguarding, accreditation and the training programme here at NACCC.
We have some great spotlight features this issue:
Setting up a contact centre from scratch… “Now in our fourth year, we continue to be busy accepting private and public referrals and are proud to support children in having a relationship with both parents.”
Local charity gives Newry’s shed a makeover… enabling gardening activities for separated families
A video to explain the rules – helping separated families in Streatham, London
Check out the latest discussions in the coffee shop forum for members:
67. Does your centre employ staff and have experience of pensions / auto enrolment?
68. Have you used the ‘do-it’ website to recruit volunteers?
69. Insurance to cover litigation/emotional damage
70. Registered charity proformas/advice
71. Contact centre booking systems
Campaign and policy update: Catch up on the latest news
In July I wrote to 650 MPs inviting them to visit their local constituency contact centre. With over 100 responses from MPs keen to arrange a visit, meet volunteers and understand more about child contact centres and services this is a great opportunity to help build political support and awareness for what we do.
Accredited contact centres have submitted returns every quarter on the flow of referrals, the number of children and families, volunteers, staff and availability. This provides NACCC with valuable information with which to campaign on behalf of contact centres on a national level.
NACCC’s long service awards
Last summer we introduced a new award for those volunteers that have served their centre for 25 years. This long service award now accompanies the awards given to volunteers who have reached the various milestones of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 years and is an amazing achievement and contribution to the local community. We were delighted to be contacted by the accredited centre in Maidenhead which has awarded certificate to two of its volunteers “The Maidenhead Contact Centre recently held its AGM followed by a party to celebrate 25 years of helping children see parents from whom they have been separated. The Centre is run by volunteers and is supported by donations from charitable organisations. The High Sheriff of Berkshire presented certificates for 25 years’ service to Phyllis Sigsworth (former Coordinator) and Kath England, her successor. The Centre was set up by the Maidenhead Christian Council under the Chairmanship of Reverend Maurice Skinner. 7 of the present volunteers have received their 20-year certificates over the last few years. In 2012 the Centre, (together with the two centres in Slough, with whom we work closely), was presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.” Congratulations to everyone! If you have volunteers who have achieved their long service award, do contact the NACCC office.
Donation pots working for Buzz CCC
We are always on the look for fundraising ideas and schemes. Paula, who runs Buzz Child Contact Centre wrote in about the success they’ve had with their ‘donation pots’ which are placed in various places in the locality… “We have had the charity pots for a while.. we bought 10 pots to start with and they weren’t that expensive. There was an option on the website to add our logo onto a sticker which we then added to the charity pots on arrival. In terms of security, when we ask local businesses to have one, they tend to keep them near their tills and/or chained up. Once they are full, the businesses tend to let us know so that we can collect the money. They have worked well for us so far, and we hope to invest in more in the near future, as we feel that this is a really good way of making unrestricted money for the contact centre. We are currently building on links with local businesses to be able to receive more donations through this channel.” www.buzzsheffield.co.uk
Farewell to Louis
This summer we said goodbye to Louis Ruddlesden, NACCC Service Development Manager as he retired this summer after working for NACCC for the last ten years. Louis has worked on many initiatives during his time at NACCC including overseeing the update of the national standards for both supported and supervised contact and the respective accreditation programmes. He consulted and co-ordinated the development of our in-house courses for supported and supervised co-ordinators and the training programme for volunteers. Safeguarding children was his passion and he led on this crucial aspect of NACCC’s work, improving standards, procedures and training to ensure that children, families and workers at child contact centres were safeguarded. Louis is coming to this year’s AGM and Conference and is looking forward to seeing you all.
Again, we hope that this newsletter is helpful. Do share it as widely as you can.
Elizabeth Coe, NACCC Chief Executive Officer