Welcome to our newsletter
The aim of the newsletter is to highlight the best of what we do and to act as a teaser, for bigger stories, which you will often find on our website or social media. We have developed so many different ways to communicate with our members and we hope that there is something that appeals to you all.
Firstly, let me thank you all for opening your doors, making children and families welcome in a period which has taxed us all one way or another. Secondly, I want to thank those members and centres who gave their time to do presentations to the AGM. They are not professional Tik Tokkers, or You Tubers but they gave their presentations from the heart, and were willing to share what they have learnt, and what they have done to ensure the sustainability of their centres. If you haven’t yet watched these presentations, please do. I know that that message has already been sent out by numerous people, but sustainability is an issue for all, in one form or another, so anything that helps, shares good practice, and provides possible solutions to problems, take it!!!
At NACCC we did many good things during the covid crisis (which is not really over) but an outstanding invention was by Phil who thought about making the coffee shop a live event. It happens every six weeks, and separately for supported and supervised centres. This has been a great success and whilst we get the same people attend every event, it would be nice to see others join because it is supportive, and again spreads good practice, good hints and tips, and solutions to day-to-day problems. Phil and I also love to see our members and share what is going on at NACCC.
I know that everyone who applies for the Cafcass grant will be wondering what is going to happen from next April. We are in regular contact with Cafcass and the Ministry of Justice about this. Be assured we are not resting on our laurels and hope that we can get a resolution. It is clear that the grant will not be distributed in the same way and there is an expectation that sustainability of centres will be a requirement but other than that and what it means in practice, we do not have any details. We promise to let you know as soon as we know. We hope you enjoy this newsletter. Why not tell us your thoughts, its quick and easy, just click here.
Urgent appeal for supported services in North Yorkshire and North Wales and supervised services in Cumbria, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire
Children living in North Yorkshire will now have to travel out of county or risk losing contact with their family members as the last two supported centres in Harrogate and York have reluctantly had to close their doors. These two centres still have willing volunteers and venue facilities but need co-ordinators to lead the team and in the case of York vital funding to continue the service in the future.
Again, children living in Cumbria, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire will have to travel out of area due to local closures and a lack of accredited supervised services in their area.
As mentioned above the situation in North Yorkshire is particularly bleak and over the last 30-months* we have seen the closure of 55 services (including 35 supported only contact centres) with West Yorkshire under particular pressure as the remaining centres take in the extra referrals. We have also seen the closure of 29 supervised services in the last 30 months and although we have had a similar number join NACCC they have not replaced the services in the areas of need. Local children in Cumbria, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire are in urgent need of enhanced accredited provision. Manchester and Wiltshire have also seen significant closures.
Supported contact provision in North Wales has recently become more urgent due to recent supported centre closures. There has always been a lack of any contact provision in mid Wales but this situation is now more concerning with a lack of services in Neath Port Talbot and Merthyr Tydfil. Apart from a concentration of provision in in Carmarthenshire and Cardiff the area generally relies on one centre per county.
*Centres closed during the period 1 April 2019 to 1 October 2021
Is your succession planning sorted?
11 of the 35 supported contact centres that closed over the last 30 months closed because they did not have a deputy in place to take up the reins when the existing co-ordinator retired. Elizabeth Coe has written to members expressing her concerns:
Dear colleagues, this is sad on a number of levels. Firstly, it means that centres that are still open have developed waiting lists because they have had requests from families from the closed centres. Secondly, children have often to travel much greater distances. When children have already waited throughout lengthy court proceedings, and then having to wait for a place at a centre they have lost valuable time with a loving parent...
It is well known, as I have said it often, the job of a coordinator is difficult and should be paid. I understand that this can present some difficulties for some centres in organising payroll. I am sure we could help centres to organise this. A shared coordinator would also mean shared costs. It would also be sensible in all cases to have a deputy in place who can run the organisation in the absence of the coordinator or take on the role when the coordinator leaves.
We asked Mary, Trustee at Nottingham Child Contact Centre (the first private law contact centre and has been running since 1985) for some advice on their approach. She told us:
Volunteer led organisations rely upon the recruitment of suitable helpers especially in the key leadership roles such as finance, and administration, and training. Many become charities and Charity Commission Guidance lists succession planning as a strategic responsibility of the governing trustees. They are required to plan to ensure the future sustainability of the organisation. This applies similarly to those centres that are incorporated as businesses.
The governance of charities is normally documented in a Trust Deed, comprising a set of rules for the operation of the organisation. Typically, this requires forming a structured management group for organisational leadership. Mary Lower, the founder of contact centres, recognised the importance of leadership, and she ensured that management control was always shared to sustain the future of the group.
Need further guidance? – checkout the ‘recruitment and volunteers’ and ‘co-ordinating across multiple venues’ conference articles below for some top tips from co-ordinators of both supported and supervised contact centres!
Is your centre reliant on a single source of funding?
The majority of the 29 supervised services that have closed recently have closed possibly due to a dependency on a single funder, factors linked to the pandemic or have had to reduce their remit to remain sustainable. 4 supported services have closed due to lack of financial sustainability.
Need further guidance? – checkout the ‘co-ordinating across multiple venues’, ‘fundraising’ and ‘diversification’ conference articles below for some top tips from co-ordinators of both supported and supervised contact centres!
AGM update: Sustainability focus
Our AGM and conference took place on Saturday 2nd October with many child contact centre co-ordinators, volunteers, Chairs, and staff members in attendance.
The conference had a sustainability focus with our very own Kelly Williams introducing four co-ordinators talking about their situation and how it has improved their centre’s sustainability. We’ve captured some of their top tips below but please do watch the videos to get the most from these presentations.
Recruitment and volunteers
In this video, Brian Davey, Co-ordinator at Westwood House Child Contact Centre is joined by Kelly Williams to talk about the challenges of recruitment, specifically in relation to volunteers and sustainability. Brian gives us some helpful suggestions about the benefits of younger volunteers and the way that male volunteers can build special rapports with families where a positive male role model can be very important.
Brian’s top tips!
Have a regular review of how our teams look today and how we can plan for the future.
Get a deputy in place to support your co-ordinator so that you are less vulnerable to closure. Our aim is to have another younger deputy to strengthen the co-ordinating team. This role will help someone wanting to get experience in management – perhaps in education, health or social care.
- Keep in touch with your volunteers – when covid hit we felt the need to keep in touch with our volunteers and we made sure we had an individual conversation with all our volunteers prior to reopening
- Review your recruitment plan – particularly if your volunteers are a particular age bracket
- Join your local CVS – very helpful for recruiting local volunteers and offering management support (see NCVO)
- Consider commercial recruitment agencies – some services offered free of charge (e.g. Indeed.com do not charge for advertising volunteer roles).
Do watch the video to find out how Westwood House have met their target of recruiting 6 new volunteers this year and hoping to strengthen their management team.
Co-ordinating across multiple venues / experience as a paid co-ordinator
In this video, Amanda Anthony from Children’s Links meets with Kelly Williams from NACCC to discuss how she co-ordinates five child contact centres, rather than just one which might be more usual traditionally. Amanda runs centres based in based in Grantham, Gainsborough, Lincoln, Skegness & Spalding and talks about why this works so well for her service, she shares some top tips as well as helping us to think about the pros and cons of such a model.
The Children’s Links model
Our venues are all local family centres which helps keep the costs down. We have multiple services who share the cost of back-office functions, HR, accounts, payroll etc. This also provides us with a bank of staff with different experiences should we need them.
I co-ordinate remotely – with a paid deputy and team of volunteers at each centre. I do all the preparation work with families (information packs, referral risk assessments etc) until they have their pre-visit booked in which is then dealt with by my local deputy at the centre. I am on the end of the phone during the contact in case of any queries.
- Cost – whilst we pay a deputy staff member at each centre it is just for that session.
- As co-ordinator I deal with all the niggles that might arise in between sessions which the onsite staff don’t have to deal with.
- I can deal with issues concerning families not adhering to our T&C and can deal with any issues relating to complaints.
Cons – sometimes it is easier to deal with things face to face.
The cost of my salary is split between 3 services so revenue from all these helps to pay salary. My salary is funded through grants, contact charges, local funds e.g. Rotary Club and local Co-op Champion money.
Amanda’s top tips!
- Networking is essential. Meet other local organisations – sometimes you can share facilities. Join up with another contact centre to help with back-office functions such as payroll. Share funding streams. The NACCC coffee shop is invaluable for this.
- A range of volunteers with different experiences. We have a lot of interest from nursery staff wanting to gain health and social care experience.
Do watch the video for more insights from Amanda!
Kath Mardles from Buzz Child Contact Centre joins Kelly Williams to share their experiences of fundraising and working with funders. Kath shares her top tips for funding and discusses why this has been so essential to the sustainability of their service.
Due to changes in local need Buzz responded by changing our focus as an organisation. We now provide all forms of contact with funded places available and are seeking funding for some parent support projects including children’s pre-visits and familiarisations sessions and parenting sessions. Our core principles have remained the same … Find out what people want, what community needs, find the money for it and keep it sustainable.
“We are sustainable through our supervised contact income, some income from supported contact, multi-year funding (3yr Lottery/Children in Need funding), 1yr funding (eg Awards for all), small local grants, annual fundraisers, work in partnership, have student placements, engage volunteers and have support from businesses who give their time to charity. Sheffield Business Together have signposted to IT services to process our referrals and track our impact. NACCC is a huge support as well.”
Kath’s top tips!
- Consult with service users and find out what they want and need
- Join mailing list for your local Voluntary Action or Funding advice service or Local Community Foundation as well
- Work with service users as you develop the bid. Once you know why the service is needed it gives you the passion to write the bid.
- Get to know potential funders and their submission dates.
- At application stage – plan your idea. You could use the Planning Triangle. Think about what will happen when the funding ends. Your planning – leads to budget – lead to which funders you can approach
- Consider applying for pilot projects – e.g. National Lottery Awards for All. Iron out issues before you approach the multi-year funders.
- Get someone else to check and proof-read your bid.
- Keep in touch with funders, even if you get a ‘no’ ask for feedback. Make sure you meet the requirements of the bid. Kelly Family Trust fund child contact centres rather than more general projects
- Have a 3-year plan. Organise your monitoring. Be realistic but dream big and share the passion for what you do!
- Most funds are project specific but some of the smaller funds are unrestricted. During Covid there was a lot of recovery funding which helped with us to fund our enhanced accreditation and getting our mediation & Makaton training.
And as Mick Curtain from National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) said at NACCC’s Conference 2019 ‘Do one thing and do it well!’.
Do watch the video to find out more about Buzz’s strategy over the last few years and more top tips!
FREE fundraising pack for members
Melanie Campbell, who has helped with our fundraising recently has produced a fundraising guide to help enable you with your own fundraising. She has included:
- resources on fundraising best practice and legalities
- ideas for fundraising
- focus on fundraising from trusts and grants including links to free resources to access potential funders.
Download for free from the members area
Becoming sustainable through diversification
Melanie Lewis joins Kelly Williams in this video to talk to us about how Tidal Family Support diversified its range of services in order to become more sustainable at a time when things were less than secure for them and what the consequences of this have been for the children and families who rely on the service.
“We are a community based, not for profit charity and have recently had a ‘rebrand’ with a new website and decorated rooms at our venue. We have been careful not to use jargon or professional words on the website which features sea characters filtering through from the website to the room decoration helping to alleviate children’s anxieties. Our theme links with our unique location as a biosphere reserve which children on foster placement can share with their parents”
“We are 90% grant funded / with additional revenue coming from our subsidised supervised contact charges (£20 per hour). Incoming grants received including the lottery, BBC Children in Need, a local mediation service and Ryde Rotary which has paid for first aid training for the team.”
“We engage with local universities offering placements which helps to keep our wage bill down – investing to have sustainability. Lower business rates help us to save on premises costs and our membership of our local Chamber of Commerce offers a magazine, networking opportunities, improved connectivity and connection with businesses wanting to help local charities.”
Covid has had a direct impact on the numbers of families using the centre with deprivation at 17% higher than at pre–pandemic levels. Some families are also stuck in a cycle of conflict and turmoil over multiple generations and so to address this we have become a licensed practitioner of the Parenting Apart Programme.
“Diversification has provided a backbone to our centre’s sustainability with services including:
- Counselling for family members to help achieve an amicable co-parenting arrangement and reduce the impact of conflict on children.
- Sensory space which can be hired out for families whose children have had a recent CAMHS diagnosis
- Signposting service – working in a collaborative approach with mediation, the local authority, Barnardo’s, and local domestic abuse agencies.
- Working towards well-being – employment advice service for parents funded via a joint grant whereby service is hosted at Tidal which offers free childcare whilst parents access the service.”
Melanie’s Top Tips!
- Keep children as your main focus. Get to know and engage with your local community, schools, churches, groups.
- Don’t be in competition with one another but work together.
Please see the members’ area to access all the videos from the day.
Beam support group ‘Precious moments’ supervised contact support
Beam is a support group predominantly for birth mothers, whose children have been adopted, placed in foster care or living elsewhere. We offer online well-being workshops, online coffee mornings and if you are in or around Suffolk you can join our art therapy sessions and day trips. We seek to empower birth mothers to help them find a sense of acceptance and belonging.
“Our latest extension of Beam is a project called ‘Precious Moments’ to support parents and families in supervised contact and was created by one of our BEAM mothers. As part of this project, we have produced a friendly leaflet helping parents to create more positive supervised contact sessions. Please go to the BEAM website to download a copy. We are currently creating a workshop for parents to support them in between supervised contact.”
Rachel, Beam Ambassador, www.beam.support
Dad.info free support for dads
Dad.info is Europe’s largest advice and support website for fathers. It celebrates the changing role of Dads with engaging, helpful, practical, entertaining resources and content for every stage of their journey. It is home to the largest connected community of active, involved Dads through its interactive forum, providing great peer to peer support and advice for what can be one of the most challenging and rewarding life experiences.
Dad.info is run by Spurgeons, one of the UK’s leading children’s charities (1081182), supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged children and their families for 150 years. Today, Spurgeons has contact with around 30,000 children and adults, whilst working more intensively with over 3,000 children and young people over the last year.
Nell, their digital editor told us :
Dad.info have produced these posters to help spread the word about our resource. It would be fantastic if you could display these at your centre and/or share them on your social media. Dad.info is here for all dads and especially dads in real need. Our site is crammed with parenting ideas and our free forum is a space where dads can come and off-load and learn how to access counselling and courses available through the website.
Posters can be downloaded from the link below:
The password is: dancing
Parenting after Separation – free course
It is a very simple introduction to some of the basic ideas about co-parenting after separation. It is free to do and may also be of interest to parents using your centre: https://www.dad.info/article/family/divorce-and-separation/making-it-work/parenting-after-separation-free-course/
For more info visit https://www.dad.info/
Research study on domestic abuse during covid-19
We have been approached by Jack McKinlay, a Research Assistant working with Researchers at the University of the West of Scotland (Dr Zara Brodie, Dr Roxanne Hawkins and Dr Chloe MacLean). Their research project is looking into domestic abuse during COVID-19 lockdown and may be relevant to the families using your centre. Their contact details can be found below. Please do share this with your families as appropriate. Jack writes:
“We recently received funding from the UKRI Rapid COVID-19 Response Fund. This funding is to investigate domestic abuse victims/survivors’ and service users of domestic charities/helplines about their experience of domestic abuse during COVID-19 lockdown. This research will take place in the form of an anonymous online questionnaire, with an option for a confidential follow-up interview. We are currently working with several UK domestic abuse charities/helplines, but it is important to us that our sample is as diverse and representative as possible which is why we have contacted the National Association of Child Contact Centres and the accredited contact centre you have a connection with.
We hope that with this research we will be able to get a wider and greater understanding of the nature of abuse during COVID-19, the impact it has had on others in the household, and what changes may be required for service users following this time.
If you wish to participate in the research, or find out more, then the link to the survey is below. All survey respondents will receive a £5 Amazon voucher as a thank you for taking part. Those who wish to take part in an interview following this will receive an additional £20 Amazon voucher:
I should note that an intensive ethical review process has already been undertaken at our institution to ensure that all data collected is anonymous and confidential. All data is anonymised, and you will not be personally identified in any way during the final write up of the research findings.
Thank you in advance for your support with our research, we greatly appreciate it.
If there are any other questions, then please do not hesitate to ask.”
Jack McKinlay, Research Assistant, University of the West of Scotland Jack.McKinlay@uws.ac.uk
On behalf of the head researchers:
- Dr Zara Brodie – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr Roxanne Hawkins – email@example.com
- Dr Chloe Maclean – firstname.lastname@example.org
New signs for NACCC in Nottingham!
We now have some fantastic new signs at our office in Nottingham kindly donated by Rusty Monkey, creative industries agency based in Nottingham. As part of their work with local charities they produced the signs and expertly installed them above our front door and in our meeting room. These will give a such a friendly and professional impression to our visitors who come in person and who attend our online events.
Scott from Rusty Monkey can be seen here installing the signs along with colleague Zoe. As you can see Phil, our Service Development Manager and Elizabeth Coe (CEO) from NACCC are very pleased with the end results!
Training update October 2021
Training has been something that NACCC has given lots of energy to over the last 18 months. Like all of you we have had to be creative in how we provide this and how we reach people during times when participants cannot come together.
Have you had your co-ordinator training yet?
We are currently monitoring a waiting list for this. Please let us know if you would like your name to be added to the waiting list for either supported or enhanced co-ordinator training. Check your emails for any further dates.
Coffee Shop Live goes from strength to strength
Our live version of the Coffee Shop provides a space for attendees to decide on their own agenda. Using the experience and knowledge of those in attendance support is provided, examples given, and best practice shared. It’s a supportive environment that has created a community to be proud of. The sessions are hosted by Kelly Williams, Elizabeth Coe and Philip Coleman and take place 6 weekly. We try to plan the times of sessions to ensure that the majority of people are able to attend.
So, what have we been chatting about in the Supervised Coffee Shop?
During the sessions on 8th July and 4th October we discussed covid, the family hubs network, the NACCC AGM, parental separation and mental health, centres being named in court orders without prior discussion, quality assurance of contact reports, helping families to move on and various other topics.
So, what have we been chatting about in the Supported Coffee Shop?
During the sessions on 16th July, 24th August and 6th October we discussed the Cafcass grant, covid (centres opening / changes to restrictions), family hubs (churches), fundraising pack, ICO and Code of Conduct, management committees and engagement with centres, the NACCC AGM, paying co-ordinators, sustainability and finance at centres, standards (working group), training / e-learning and working with courts & court orders.
Why not find out what’s been going on and book onto the next coffee shop?
Book into future sessions either through the members area or by asking us for the link via email@example.com
NACCC also has thriving communities in our Peer Support Networks. These take place on Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to avoid missing out.
In the Midlands area? Are you interested in being an assessor?
We still are in need for assessors in the Midlands area (Shropshire, West Midlands, Staffordshire. Warwickshire. Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and areas nearby). Being an accreditation assessor provides you with a unique opportunity to learn more about the work of other child contact centres, spreading good practice and pearls of wisdom as you go. You will be joining a friendly and passionate team of assessors lead by Phil Coleman, undertaking accreditation assessments. This provides NACCC with reassurance that centres are maintaining high standards, it provides the centres with feedback and guidance, and it ensures that children are safe when using services.
The role is self-employed, meaning you can pick and choose when you work or where you are willing to travel too. All that required is for you to gather a portfolio, visit the centre and then write a report. Those best equipped for this role will be:
- Experienced and interested in child contact centres
- Understand the NACCC standards
- Able to plan own time
- Able to travel
- Have a basic ability to use IT (mostly word and email) and a PC or laptop of your own to type observations.
- Attend training and supervision (mostly remotely)
- Offer feedback
- Make recommendations (linked to standards)
- Write reports
For more information about the role, you are very welcome to contact Phil Coleman on email@example.com . For an application pack (including job descriptions and rates of pay etc) please contact our friendly administration team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Coleman, Service Development Manager
SPOTLIGHT: Tidal Family Support’s rebrand and diversification of services
Melanie co-ordinator at recently rebranded Tidal Family Support writes about their experience over the last few months:
We are excited to unveil our new rebrand and welcome you to Tidal Family Support (formally Jigsaw Family Support) on the Isle of Wight. We are a community based, not for profit, child-focused charity that works with families who are directly impacted by separation or divorce.
“Our mission here at Tidal Family Support is to provide a safe, caring and happy environment where parents can spend time with their children and focus on their needs. As part of the rebrand, we have also completed a refurbishment of the contact rooms and as a result our services are expanding”
Melanie goes on to explain how diversification is helping their sustainability moving forward “We are diversifying to offer a collaborative co-parenting approach, with the aim of reducing the number of families using the family courts. We’ve just become the Isle of Wight’s only licensed practitioners of the Parenting Apart Programme (PAP) as well as establishing a working relationship with The Hampton Trust, who kindly funded one of the team to complete the new Caring Dads programme.”
“To offer a holistic community approach, we have partnered with Working Towards Wellbeing Family Employment Advice Service. They are aiding lone parents and troubled families to engage in options to return to work, both paid and unpaid. This free service is being run in the centre and free childcare is provided to those families accessing the service. We hope all of the new services and partnerships will offer the centre the sustainability that is required to remain a vital service for every family. We were honoured to receive a recognition award this month for outstanding contribution to the community, presented to us by Councillor Michael Lilley, Mayor of Ryde.”
Find out more at https://www.tidalfamilysupport.org.uk/
SPOTLIGHT: GRO @ LEAP Children & Families Centre, Ashton-under-Lyne “Today my son called me dad for the first time”
The new ‘GRO’ project runs every Saturday morning from LEAP’s allotments in Hyde. We asked Jo Parry-Gee (Chief Officer) to share a bit more about this new supported service helping children to bond with family members:
“On Saturday 8th May 2021, we launched GRO (Growing Relationships Outdoors) our new weekly supported contact sessions from our large community allotment site. The allotment includes several shelters, toilets and a kitchen plus large two polytunnels to see us through the rain and cooler months.”
“Seasonal activities include sowing, planting, harvesting, fruit picking, foraging, natural craft activities, pond dipping and bug hunting. The sessions are delivered by qualified early years / family workers, alongside our wonderful volunteers. Although some parents voiced initial concern about how contact would work on the allotment site, this was soon overcome after the first session. There have also been parental reservations about children taking home some of their finds, mostly spiders, worms and other creepy crawlies!! All children are kindly asked to return their new ‘pets’ to their natural habitat before leaving.”
Children and the outdoors are a great combination and the benefits to mental health and wellbeing are well evidenced. This innovative way of working really encourages relationships to flourish as children and parents try new activities together, get messy, have fun and strengthen their bond within a therapeutic environment.
“We have seen some great outcomes for children over the past few months, as they re-connect with a parent they don’t live with and relationships have unique opportunities to bloom. Jack* age 8, hadn’t seen his father in almost 3 years when he attended his first contact session at the allotment. Jack initially blanked dad and explored the allotment activities independently. The relationship has really improved over the weeks especially when Jack, in his explorations pulled the water feed pipe out, causing a fierce waterfall! With water spraying everywhere Dad and Jack worked together to stem the water and solve the problem. As they managed this, there were high fives, well dones and hugs.”
“At the end of the session Jack told mum ‘Me and dad worked as a team together to stop the flood. It was so much fun!’ Dad told us ‘Today my son called me dad for the first time’”
Find out more at www.leapcfc.org.uk
We’ve now settled into our new office (5 Russell Place, Nottingham, NG1 5HJ). This was quite a project as you can see from our office move video!
Please do check out the latest news from the website since the last newsletter:
“If it hadn’t been for the volunteers’ support so many children would have missed out on building, re-building and maintaining their family relationships.” Plaque recognising 25 years’ service of Jimmy’s contact service to local families unveiled
“Think about the end game. The end game is to ensure you have a good relationship with your child, long term, and that needs to be built up following your separation.” NACCC’s CEO and Service Development Manager on Divorce TV
Again, we hope that this newsletter is helpful. Do share it as widely as you can.
Elizabeth Coe, NACCC Chief Executive Officer
The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the NACCC and publication does not imply endorsement. © NACCC 2021 (NACCC member centres exempt)