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…

There is no getting away from it, this has been a tough year both for Contact Centres and NACCC around a whole range of issues.  In November at the AGM and from a training event recently, feedback from some centres is that you are not feeling supported by NACCC.  It would be good to hear from you in what ways you do not feel supported, and if there is anything, we can do to address this.  It is acknowledged that the increase in membership fees last year put a strain on finances, although compared with other membership organisations we are relatively low cost.  It is also acknowledged that GDPR put a strain on many of you as it did for NACCC.

It was NACCC that took the final decision to ask centres to get a certificate to demonstrate that they were compliant with GDPR although Cafcass had told us that we needed to know that information shared with centres was safe. If we had not done so and there had been a breach, then NACCC would have been considered as wantonly negligent by the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO). We did our best to try and make the process as painless as possible, but I know some centres did struggle and I am sorry about that. 

For the membership fee to NACCC centres receive:

  • National Standards and quality bench marks
  • Accreditation support – achieving and maintaining national standards
  • Practical support and advice in achieving and maintain accreditation
  • Training offered on a regional and individual basis including coordinator training, and workbooks.
  • DBS Service
  • AGM/Conference
  • Advertising on the NACCC website ‘Find a Centre’ service
  • Information line for parents and carers
  • Members Information line
  • Safeguarding advice throughout weekends
  • Safe Referral System, an on-line system and hub support programme
  • Coffee Shop an on-line networking site
  • Newsletter
  • Advice and updates regarding important changes in legislation.

I would urge you to take advantage of these services which are designed to help you.

I again turn to the issue of statistics.  Thank you to the 85% of centres that have submitted a return, this is much appreciated. However, the fact that 15% of centres have not submitted a return is poor and does not help us demonstrate to the government and other stakeholders the vast amount of work that centres do.  From the statistics we received from the last quarter there were 38,294 contact sessions available and 9,617 children using centres, but this number would be increased considerably had we had a complete set of statistics.  These figures are used in social media and with the government so would be good for them to be as accurate as possible. 

Finally, some centres have closed because they are unable to recruit but others have been salvaged because they have found a coordinator in a nearby centre to cover that as well. I said at the AGM in my view coordinators should be paid to do this work because it is a tough ask to do as a volunteer as it entails a considerable amount of work.  It could be possible to pool resources in this way and I would value your view on this issue.

Rise in Local Authority cases at supported contact services

As we all know cases have been getting more and more complex recently. Many centres are working with increasing numbers of families and increasing risks within these referrals. This means that inevitably we are doing more and more in an environment whereby funding is becoming harder to come by and costs are rising. Staff at NACCC have recently noted that within these more complex cases are children and families that have a Local Authority Social Worker allocated to them. In the past the Local Authority might have worked with these families in managing the contact arrangements, but more recently it seems they are referring their cases to Supported Contact Centres so that they can close their cases.

Engaging with children at child contact centres… working in a truly child centred way

At our AGM & Conference in November last year our Service Development Manager, Philip Coleman delivered a very popular session relating to the voice of the child in contact arrangements. Many of you were not able to attend this because of it being fully booked or going to other workshops, so we have taken this opportunity to write an article containing the highlights.

Positive feedback from the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) “Staff and volunteers are committed, dedicated, enthusiastic and caring…”

During NACCC’s AGM and Conference Jennifer Lynch and Advone from the FJYPB presented a very engaging and enjoyable talk sharing the findings that have come from their work with NACCC accredited child contact centres. These findings and recommended approaches will help your centre to be truly child focused in the work that you do.

New first aid standard for supported child contact centres

A new standard is to be introduced in the next update of the Supported Standards (due to be published later this year. “Child Contact Centres should have a staff member / volunteer who is Paediatric First Aid Trained. Centres will then make independent decisions about the levels of training required for other staff / volunteers.”

Sign up today to help children and parents… let’s get social!

Social media is a fantastic free tool that is ideal for small organisations to share and show off to the outside world what we do. You can use social media to raise awareness, help children whose parents are separating and support the national child contact centre movement.

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.” Make sure you are up to speed on risk assessments, first aid and engaging with children at your centre. Checkout our Free training A-Z as well!

We have some great spotlight features this issue:

“Can I just say a big thank you for everything that you and all the Westwood House volunteers have done for us over the past 6 months and helping me to build a relationship again with my daughter…”

Sunflowers helping children feel at home at Bingley Child Contact Centre

Success story – dad shares how Cheltenham Child Contact Centre helped in his journey in arranging contact

Videos help Gloucester raise funds and awareness

Coffee shop

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

72. Sharing workload with deputy

73. Recording referrals that don’t go anywhere

Campaign and policy update: Catch up on the latest news

Checkout the latest update on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Child Contact Centres, Parliamentary debate and our MP photo competition 2019 (see below).

Invite your MP and snap up £50!

We are looking for the ‘best Child Contact Centre picture with an MP’ with a prize of £50 up for grabs! Photos will be judged by the Family Justice Young People’s Board and the winner will be announced at this year’s AGM (to be held in October or November 2019).

Resources to help your work with families

Kids Come First guidebook

Kids Come First run workshops for separated parents in the London area. They have put their workshop materials and articles into one publication for all separating/divorcing parents. £5 donation per copy (min. order of 10 copies). Order direct from Kids Come First CIC http://www.kidscomefirstuk.co.uk

The Handover Book

The Handover Book is a continuously updated co-parenting plan. It’s designed specifically to encourage communication solely based on information about the child’s needs, routines and welfare. £19.99 per copy (see website below to order). Also available areThe Handover Book sessions’ – oneoff meetings between the practitioner and separated parents. An experienced practitioner guides parents through the process of implementing The Handover Book. It is a working tool, which when used correctly will improve parental communication, reduce conflict and create a robust co-parenting relationship post-separation. https://www.thehandoverbook.co.uk/about/   

101 Questions Answered About Separating With Children

The book is born out of the calls and enquiries received every day by OnlyMums & OnlyDads, a national not for profit support and signposting service for parents going through separation or divorce. It answers, in plain English, the questions they get asked most often and range from the immediate and practical, such as ‘Can I change the locks?’, through the strictly legal such as ‘What happens to my will on divorce?’, to some that are a bit of both such as ‘I have an abusive ex. Is mediation right for me?’ £23.99 per copy (see website below to order) https://www.onlymums.org/information/101-questions-answered-about-separating-with-children

And finally, ‘My hidden Chimp’ & ‘The Silent Guides’ by Prof Steve Peters

My Hidden Chimp is an educational book for children to work through with an adult or by themselves. The book offers parents, teachers and carers some ideas and thoughts on how to help children to develop healthy habits for life. The science behind the habits is discussed in a practical way with exercises and activities. The neuroscience of the mind is simplified for the children to understand and then use to their advantage. Cost: about £7 (see website below to order)

‘The Silent Guides’ helps adults understand how they have learned to manage emotions and thinking by developing coping strategies. These strategies, whether helpful or unhelpful, often progress into habits for life – our Silent Guides. Helpful habits can give many advantages in life. Unhelpful habits that persist into adult life usually bring stress and can be detrimental to our day to- day functioning, psychological health and relationships. Cost: about £7 (see website below to order) https://chimpmanagement.com

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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