Elizabeth Coe, NACCC CEO heads up the staff team at NACCC

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…

It’s been another busy quarter with a lot happening for NACCC and Contact Centres. Quite a bit of what I say here in this Welcome note appears in the newsletter in the form of articles, but I am hoping that having a brief mention here will tempt you into reading the rest of the publication. 

I know it was a surprise to hear about the changes to the grants from Cafcass, it was a surprise to us as well.  It did have a negative impact on centres and did prompt some to threaten closure which would be a sad state of affairs. We made representations to Cafcass and the MOJ and I hope that it was resolved for those who were affected.  It does indicate that those grants are never assure and centres really need to think about long term sustainability.  I appreciate that many centres want to offer a free service, but if funding is a problem and if charging would keep it going I believe that most families would prefer that to having to travel very long distances.  Frankly, people value what they pay for, even if it is a small amount.  Phil Coleman has written an excellent article in this newsletter on this topic.

The other real issue for some of you is recruiting volunteers and, in particular, co-ordinators.  It is sad that centres close for this reason.  There is a possible solution.  If centres work together.  This has happened in Cumbria where a centre was threatened with closure because they were unable to recruit a coordinator, another centre in Cumbria that had already rescued one centre in similar circumstances, now share their coordinator between all three centres.  This was a very creative way to keep services going in a very rural area where families would have had to travel huge distances for a centre, which is not good for young children.  So, it is possible to save centres. I have also long thought that coordinators should be paid.  It is a tough job which requires a high level of commitment.  This should be appreciated and remunerated.

Can I mention waiting lists.  I know that some centres struggle with numbers and with parents who do not want to move on.  Personally, I think it is unacceptable to have a waiting list as this means that a child who has probably not had contact with their non-resident parent for a considerable amount of time has to wait longer.  This can result in them giving up all together and not engaging with that parent when they finally do meet.  So please can it be a discussion at the pre-visit, which I know it is for some of you, that time at the centre is limited and the reasons why.  Having said that I know there will always be exceptions. 

Oversees outreach. You will all read on our website and in this newsletter that we have had enquiries about NACCC and the work of contact centres from a number of countries around the world – Australia, Ireland, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and of course we have been over to Singapore to accredit their excellent supervised contact centre.  I have been invited to Japan to give a number of speeches about the work of NACCC and contact centres.  They wish to start contact centres in Japan and want to be closely associated with NACCC because they believe that we are a good organisation who do a good job.  They are full of admiration for all the volunteers who work in centres as there is not a culture of volunteering in Japan, but they hope to introduce it as a model. It is likely if we take this forward, that we will need to draw up a formal agreement with other countries if they wish to be affiliated to NACCC.  I will keep all our members informed of how we will move forward. 

I want to thank all of the centres who have returned their statistics.  Ruth has put some trend information in this newsletter, and it is worth its weight in gold when speaking to the MoJ (both yours and our funders).  Having accurate information is crucial. 

Booked your place yet? ‘Recognising risks’ NACCC conference 2019

Bookings are now coming in for our conference next month. We’ve got a great programme for you at ‘Recognising risks’, our AGM and conference being held in Derby. Welcoming speakers from NWG Network, National Centre for Domestic Violence – NCDV, the OurFamilyWizard® website, Families Need Fathers and of course NACCC this should be a thought provoking and challenging day. Do you volunteer or work at a child contact centre? This is chance to meet volunteers and staff from child contact centres across the UK and exchange ideas and practice.

Protect yourself from a court summons – role of the Judicial Protocol for supported contact centres

Recently we have become aware of examples whereby centres are being called to Court to give evidence. This is becoming a worrying trend and one that undermines the model we have tried for so long to protect and promote. Supported Centres are absolutely essential to children and their families when accessing the family courts and it is also true that without the work that many of you do there would be a massive gap in services that would most likely go unmet otherwise. The consequence of this is that children will be denied contact with the people that they care about.

Sustainability of child contact centres

It seemed an ideal opportunity to write to all our members about sustainability and the importance of ensuring our services are run in such a way that ensures their longevity. We know that many of our centres are 98% reliant on Cafcass / MOJ funding and with the latest changes in the eligibility for this, there has been an understandable amount of concern and anxiety amongst Child Contact Centres.

QEL endorsement for NACCC training

Recently NACCC has been awarded the Quality Endorsement Licence (QEL). This has involved being inspected and audited by the Open College Network in order to ensure that our Training resources meet their exacting standards in Leadership and Management, Quality of Resources, – Quality Assurance, Learner Support, Legislation, Quality of Courses and Assessment

Campaign boost for NACCC and child contact centres with stakeholders, online and in the media

We’ve been working closely with social enterprise Campaign Collective to raise the profile of NACCC on national TV, national newspapers and social media. The work is continuing at a pace and will result in a stakeholder engagement campaign and social media assets which will be crucial for NACCC and child contact centres to continue publicising the importance of NACCC and child contact centres over the next few years.

Training update

Phil Coleman, Service Development Manager oversees accreditation and training at NACCC. He says “Training your volunteers is one of the most important tasks that a contact centre has. When this is done well your volunteers feel confident and equipped when engaging with families and they feel empowered to practice in ways that are professional and meaningful to the children and families that you support.” We’ve received excellent feedback in our recent supervised and governance training, have been sharing practice (working with organisations in Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Ireland) and have of course been awarded QEL status for our training and accreditation.

Spotlight feature

East Northants Child Contact Services (CIC) – charity of the year

Coffee shop

Check out the latest discussions in the coffee shop forum for members including

74. Court orders saying resident parent can stay in the contact room during the session

75. Supervised coffee shop – Length of CCI session

Campaign and policy update: Catch up on the latest news

Checkout the latest update on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Child Contact Centres, our work engaging with local MPs round the country and other news.

Statistical Review 2018 – 2019 

Thank you to all the accredited contact centres that have submitted returns every quarter this last year on the flow of referrals, the number of children and families using your centre, your volunteers, staff and availability. This is much appreciated and provides NACCC with valuable information with which to campaign on behalf of contact centres on a national level. Information that you have provided show that 17,495 children across the UK spent valuable time with a separated family member at a contact centre run by 3,331 volunteers and 1,276 members of staff. Checkout the latest statistics, trends and insights.

National recognition for the work being done in child contact centres

Huge congratulations to Chiltern Child Contact Centre in Amersham on receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for their work with local separated families. The Chiltern Child Contact Centre is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them. Representatives from the centre will be receiving the award later this month. https://chilternchildcontactcentre.org.uk/

NACCC would also like to congratulate Tina Maretic from Jigsaw Family Support Centre (in Ryde, Isle of Wight) on being shortlisted for the Multi Strand category at the National Diversity Awards 2019. Over 28,000 people were nominated for award this year and community organisations and role models from across the UK headed to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on 20th September to witness the country’s 2019 winners being crowned the best of British diversity. https://www.jigsawfamilysupport.com/

Congratulations also go to Chances Gives Choices (which runs 5 centres in Hampshire) have also been highly commended in the Hampshire VIP Business Awards for the ‘Future Minds for Children’ and ‘Parents Choice’ category. https://www.chancesgiveschoices.com/

‘Daisy through the looking glass’ presented by Bristol Child Contact Centre

You may be aware that Bristol Child Contact Centre has recently presented a play ‘Daisy through the looking glass’ based on true but hidden stories that play out in the Family Court. ‘Beyond Closed Doors Theatre Company’ performed this powerful tale of love and life and family conflict and its sad, seemingly inevitable consequences for mother, father and most of all for their daughter Daisy herself. Co-ordinator Vanessa told us “it was such an interesting evening and we had Emma from the Victoria Derbyshire programme there, plus 6 volunteers from Bath contact centre and Nikki who has just set up Family Ties in Winterbourne. The play was about a couple who were very happy and had a baby, but the marriage broke down and they separated. The mother had not given the daughter the full facts of the split which resulted in her having no contact with her father until she was in her twenties with children of her own. There was resentment towards both parents – the mother because of the lies she had told and the father for not having tried harder to see her… The play was followed by a question and answer session where the audience asked questions and the actors responded in their roles. Our president HHJ Stephen Wildblood wrote the play and took part as the judge and one of our trustees Charles Place took the part of the mediator as he runs Progressive Mediation in Bristol. Before the play I was interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol, BCFM which is a local community radio and we also had write ups in local online news feeds.”

Again, we hope that this newsletter is helpful. Do share it as widely as you can.

Elizabeth Coe, NACCC Chief Executive Officer

Views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the NACCC and publication does not imply endorsement. © NACCC 2019 (NACCC member centres exempt)

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