Elizabeth Coe, Chief Executive Officer
Elizabeth sets the strategic direction of NACCC as well as managing the Team

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. 

The role of NACCC and Child Contact Centres is constantly evolving and with this brings new challenges, particularly whilst we have all been responding to the coronavirus. Since the 70s I have been doing working with children and families, yet these last 12 months feel like they have taught me so much about the importance of the work we do and the resilience of the dedicated staff and volunteers that form our unique network. The consequence of these challenges has been devastating for some and we send our most sincere thoughts to all who have struggled through these times. However, there have also been significant triumphs.

The network of Child Contact Centres has shown resilience and innovation beyond any of our expectations and the consequences of this are that children have been able to continue spending time with the people they love and care about. 

Sometimes this has been virtual and sometimes this has been behind a facemask, but we did it and this should not be underestimated in terms of achievement. On that note, we have a special event planned for later in the year to celebrate this, you will find out more about this later in this newsletter. 

Before I conclude my welcome to this episode of the newsletter, I just wanted to take this opportunity to also let you know about some of the work that I have been doing. NACCC has always taken pride in sharing our learning and expertise with other organisations to ensure that our reach and the impact that we can have on children’s lives is as significant as possible.

Recently, this has included working with the Public Law Working Group. Initially, we worked on some educational resources that you can find in the children section of our website, helping children to understand their rights when parents separate in the context of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. As the year has carried on, we have now started to look at Family Hubs and what good practice in these might include. Recently, we have developed a model that we hope will be approved by the President of the Family Division, in order to add to the gravitas of this, prior to its launch. 

We hope you enjoy this newsletter. Why not tell us your thoughts, its quick and easy, just click here.   

Covid heroes update – thanks for all your nominations!

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Covid heroes is our way of celebrating the people that have kept children in touch with their loved ones throughout the pandemic. Forget the Oscars, the Grammys and the Baftas, this is the hottest ticket in town, and it is all to recognise the excellence of the NACCC Membership.

It is with great excitement and pride that we are now able to announce the Parenting Apart Programme as the Ceremony Sponsors and we are very much looking forward to having a speaker from the organisation along to tell us more about their work. More information about the Parenting Apart Programme is available on our YouTube Channel. Whilst there don’t forget to subscribe.

When confirming their support for the event Kam Kaur, Parenting Apart Consultant, commented that it was “an absolute honour to be able to support this event and to be able to celebrate such exceptional people who have done so much to improve the lives of children and families”.

“This event was never in doubt. We have been passionate about it, since its conception, but the support of the Parenting Apart Programme now moves us to the next level and will ensure that this is a special occasion for all.” Phil Coleman, NACCC Service Development Manager.

Thanks for nominating your Covid heroes!

We received 49 nominations from parents, centre staff and volunteers. It has to be said that all of the nominations received demonstrate such a high level of dedication and the task of shortlisting is going to be one that is inspiring and challenging for Elizabeth. How you pick the winners from those nominated is an undertaking in itself. For more information about those nominated follow our website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Over the next few weeks, we will begin to share some of the stories behind the nominations.

There are so many people who have gone above and beyond to help their communities this last year. The categories are as follows and the winners of each category will be entitled to use a version of the following logos:

Voluntary Service during Covid-19: This will be awarded to volunteers (including trustees or students) that went (or wanted to go) above and beyond in order to get child contact services to families. Staff Service during Covid-19: This will be awarded to paid staff (including managers and others) that went (or wanted to go) above and beyond, to get child contact services to families. Innovative Practice: There are two awards in the Enhanced Member category and Supported Member Category. These awards will be granted to centres for innovating during Covid-19 in order to minimise disruption for children and families. Covid Hero: This special award will be chosen by NACCC’s CEO and will be allocated to one person or centre that embodies all that NACCC and child contact centres stand for.

The awards will be presented during an awards ceremony and we will be announcing the date of this very soon.

The Parenting Apart Programme

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The impact of separation and divorce on the family

Separation and divorce have been evidenced as one of the most stressful life events a family can experience. Children’s chances are strongly influenced by their parents’ relationship, whether they are together or separated. Exposure to parental conflict can have long-term negative impacts on children’s early emotional, behavioural, cognitive and social development. Academic research from around the world has evidenced that frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict causes stress and depression for the whole family including children, undermining their education and employment prospects.

The Parenting Apart Programme

The Parenting Apart Programme support parents when there is breakdown in the parental relationship due to divorce or separation to prioritise the mental health, emotional and physical wellbeing of their children. The voice of the child is at the heart of everything they do.

Through an initial 4-week programme, parents explore their family challenges, individually and jointly, learning how to communicate and form a respectful parent working relationship, that results in a Parent Working Agreement which both parents agree to abide by.

This outlines how parents will work together to support their child’s wishes, emotional and physical wellbeing, covering practical issues including transition of care, childcare arrangements, holidays and schooling. The Parenting Apart Programme reduce the length of time that a non-resident parent has no direct relationship with their child, and the time, expense and trauma of extended court proceedings.

For more information about The Parenting Apart Programme, click here

The Parenting Apart Programme also recorded a special interview with Elizabeth Coe, that can be viewed here.

Introducing our rebrand – a birthday present for our 30th year!

It’s not every day that you have the opportunity for a fresh new start. Over the last few months Rusty Monkey (a creative agency based in Nottingham) has designed a rebrand for us which will mean that we can communicate more effectively to parents and children impacted by separation and the people like you working with them. It seems fitting that in 2021, our 30th year as a charity that this has come about and we hope you like the bright new look which will flow through all our reports, stationery and literature and will continue to be rolled out over the course of the year.

Checkout your new logo

As part of the rebrand we have a new logo for you our wonderful members! Depending on whether you are an enhanced accredited member (providing supervised contact) or an accredited member (providing supported contact) we have a host of new logos in a range of lovely colours which can be downloaded from the members area of our website. We hope you like them 😊.

NACCC is aiming to achieve an overall national identity for all NACCC member centres. This should help to reassure both referrers and users that all member centres are backed up by the national structure that NACCC provides. To assist in achieving this objective, it is intended that all member centres should incorporate the NACCC Accredited or the NACCC Enhanced Accredited logos in all headed paper, compliment slips, websites, social media, publicity materials, etc.

As a reminder, under no circumstances should NACCC centres use the NACCC logo. NACCC has produced specific ‘Accredited’ and ‘Enhanced Accredited’ logos for use by its Full members and Full Commercial members only. Candidate and lapsed centres should NOT use these logos in any circumstances in their printed or online literature. Further details including branding guidelines and rules for use can also be found on our website

Not logged on yet? It’s not too late!

If you your centre hasn’t accessed the members area yet – click on the ‘forgot password’ link at the bottom of this webpage. Then enter either your registered email address or username on the screen that follows.

NACCC’s stories get the thumbs up from the FJYPB

The Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) are a group of over 50 children and young people aged between seven and 25 years old who live across England and Wales. All of their members have either had direct experience of the family justice system or have an interest in children’s rights and the family courts.

Members of the Board have shared their feedback about the finished stories and we thank them again for taking the time to share their thoughts with us:

 The Family Justice Young People's Board contributed to the planning of the children's story books by providing guidance from a child point of view and if there needs to be any improvements before they hand them to the contact centres for children to view and read them depending on their age. (continues in next slide)
"I contributed to this from an inclusive perspective because I have a cerebral palsy. It is extremely vital that every child can access this book whatever their needs are which should be put in place as they should be included in everything and not left out. The book should be adapted for their needs such as braille storybook for children who are blind, a sensory book for people who have sensory properties, children who are deaf you could do a speaking book. This has been fed back to NACCC" Member of the Family Justice Young People's Board
"Diversity was appropriately addressed as they used animals instead of people, this is a clever idea because they are not discriminating no-one. The designer included different animals so it was diverse. They included a child animal in a wheelchair and the inclusion part was covered" Member of the Family Justice Young People's Board
"I think the end result went really well as the people took on board what us children are saying. There was different ages on both storybook commissions" Member of the Family Justice Young People's Board
"They could do a fun interactive one so the child can have fun but also at the same time educate themselves about what is going to happen such as doing a jigsaw, completing it and it can speak to them. Or they could colour a picture in" Member of the Family Justice Young People's Board

NACCC would like to thank the Family Justice Young People’s Board for all their help and feedback during the development of our new stories. We really hope that they will help prepare children needing to use your child contact centre, explain about sharing their worries and concerns and to demystify the whole process for them.

Not read the stories yet?

Go to our children and young people’s area to find out more.

Matchmothers source Lottery funding to help their members access vital contact services

Matchmothers is a charity to support, help, guide and signpost all mothers who are living apart from their children.  We are proud of our MATCHLINE, a free phone line for mothers to speak with understanding to separated mothers who can advise and more importantly offer a sympathetic ear. Matchmothers is very happy to be working alongside the NACCC.  Many of our mothers have or are in a court process where the Judge has allowed contact, supervised or not with their children through a contact centre and I support this form of contact as I know how responsibly the NACCC is organised and always helpful.

When a mother calls us up and is desperately looking for us to supply the answers to solve the separation problem, we immediately suggest contact centres. I had to use a contact centre in 2003.  It enabled me to see all three of my children and presumably things are even better 18 years on……for Mums seeing their lovely children.

Matchmothers.org made an application to the Lottery Community Fund for finance for our members who can only see their children in a contact centre. Due to the Covid pandemic many Mums have faced financial difficulties and the last thing that they want affected is the precious time with their children.

A story that defined these problems came to us on our phone line from a Mum of two young boys in the Hastings area. Her access to the children was ordered as contact for 2 hours per week.  The allocated centre was costing £120 per week.  As many of us would agree this cost for 2 hours contact is very expensive, especially as the mother’s job only paid the minimum wage of £8.20 per hour.

So now with the Lottery funding we would like to help mothers facing the finance problem. As of the 14th April we will contribute £50 towards every hour of contact actioned in a NACCC accredited contact centre. The Mum will be able to send us a photograph of the receipt/invoice and we will reimburse to their bank account or send a cheque.

Thank you to all staff that can guarantee special memories are made in a contact centre.

Rosalind Barton, Matchmothers.org

Training update March 2021

Phil Coleman, Service Development Manager
Phil manages the training, standards and accreditations at NACCC

Training has been something that NACCC has given lots of energy to in light of Covid and what this has meant for us. 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.

Upcoming sessions

  • Enhanced Co-Ordinator training – we have dates planned for this and are now taking bookings, for more information contact d.moreland@naccc.org.uk.
  • Supported Co-Ordinator training – we have dates planned for this and are now taking bookings, for more information contact d.moreland@naccc.org.uk.
  • Safeguarding Training – in order to target our resources where they are most needed this is only currently available to our supported members, who can complete an e-learning package or attend a virtual training session. For more information about the e-learning see the members area or to attend our next live virtual session on the 2nd June and you can book a place on this course by clicking here.
  • Governance Training – This is a great interactive course offered to Trustees and Management Committee members. We will shortly be releasing dates for this, so keep an eye on your emails.

All training is taking place on Microsoft Teams. New to this tech? Don’t worry, we have video guides, written information and experienced staff on hand to help you make the most of the opportunities available. Whatever your level of skill, there will be someone less technically able than you who we have been able to support to make the most of these opportunities.

A glimpse into the future

We currently have a range of e-learning available, provided by the Training Hub. In order to make use of these please complete the form on this link and send to r.miles@naccc.org.uk. Being the case that these are popular, and this is evidenced by the take up we will be investing in these financially and there is the hope that our training modules will, in part, move into this format. So, jump on board now!

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 Coffee Shop 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 session on 3rd March, we discussed vaccinations. rapid flow testing, PPE, training, family hubs, magistrates training, Fagan’s Parental Separation training, accreditations and standards & stats.

So, what have we been chatting about in the Supported Coffee Shop?

During the session on 9th March, we discussed vaccination, testing, training, working with those making Court Orders and the House of Lords Work.

Why not find out what’s been going on and book onto the next coffee shop?

NACCC also has thriving communities in our Peer Support Networks. These take place on Facebook and LinkedIn. Contact p.coleman@naccc.org.uk to avoid missing out.

Positive feedback for NACCC’s online training

Enhanced co-ordinator training

Safeguarding training

Recently we have offered courses to:

  • 53 Supported Child Contact Centre Co-Ordinators.
  • 110 Enhanced Child Contact Centre Co-Ordinators
  • 298 Volunteers and paid staff from supported centres with Safeguarding Training. 

The majority of attendees rated the following as either Outstanding, Excellent or Good

  • Quality of overall event
  • Balance between engagement and taught content
  • How well were the learning objectives of the course achieved?
  • How would you rate the trainer’s knowledge of the subject matter and their ability to impart knowledge?
  • How well has the course impacted on your knowledge and confidence in this area?
  • Tech – ease of use
  • Experience of booking process

This is a new experience for many but has been well received as you can see from the feedback.

Have you had your training yet? Check your emails for any further dates.

Phil Coleman, Service Development Manager

SPOTLIGHT: Recruiting new volunteers via social media

“With so many volunteers having to shield we were in danger of closing but fortunately in Bracknell we have local community Facebook groups who are unbelievably caring and giving…”

St Paul’s Child Contact Centre (pre covid)

St Paul’s Child Contact Centre, Bracknell has been in operation for 28 years. We are a supported centre opening two Saturday afternoons a month. We were set up by St Paul’s Church as a community initiative. We saw a need, heard about great work being done in child contact centres and initially started with 25 volunteers from across the congregations and a few other churches.

Over the years volunteers moved away, grew elderly and frail or sadly passed on.  We did recruitment drives without much success. We recruited the odd volunteer here and there, with a few couples joining as part of their adoption journey, but most left after a couple of years for one reason or another.  A few years ago, as our numbers slowly dwindled, a colleague from a different centre suggested appealing to local Facebook groups.  We posted and had no response.  We tried again, but still no response. With very low number of volunteers, most of whom had been with us since the start and the majority in their 70s or 80s, it was becoming a real struggle to put together a working rota and many volunteers were working every session to enable us to stay open. 

Then Covid struck.  In the spring the churches were closed so the centre had to close.  Our Coordinator worked with families remotely during lockdown and eventually our centre reopened at the beginning of October 2020. Three of our most active volunteers had to shield and one had changed his job and circumstances. We had reached crunch point.

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Fortunately in Bracknell we have local community Facebook groups who are unbelievingly caring and giving. NACCC shared a post on Facebook about volunteering at a child contact centre. We shared this to the local community group in October saying that our vital service was in danger of closing without new volunteers. We shared our website details and anyone interested could find out more about how we work and what we do.  As a result we had 20 people express interest. We sent everyone more information and an application form. That resulted in 3 new volunteers.  We could finally breathe…..a little. 

Despite being vigilantly Covid compliant at the centre, as the Covid case numbers and death toll rose in our area, I became more uncomfortable because I have a family with health issues and I finally felt I too needed to step back to protect them.

We decided to appeal again on the Facebook groups and one of our fabulously enthusiastic new volunteers helped us out with this by sharing our appeal with relevant groups we weren’t even aware of. We had 36 expressions of interest.  From these we received 13 applications, have interviewed them over the phone, and are in the process of getting DBS checks, references and scheduling them for training over the coming weeks. 

What we find so encouraging is that many of these are younger people working in childcare or in careers that provide valuable working experience, professional and life skills, as well as training and qualifications that can contribute to all we do at the centre, including in our Management committee. Hopefully in time, some of us older ones could even retire or at least step back a little to allow new ideas and approaches to our work to develop.

If you aren’t on Facebook it really is worth going on there. Look at your local community groups.  Every town has so many.  Join some and get a feel for the people in it.  Then decide where is best to post an appeal. A good recruitment procedure will allow you to find the right people for the role.

Maybe Covid has made us a more caring society, maybe there are more people out there with time on their hands and willing to help, who knows. But we are absolutely thrilled and very encouraged by the response we have had to our Facebook appeal. Child Contact is clearly a service that many in our community see as vital and worth giving up their time for and contributing their skills to. We’re excited by this and hope all of our new volunteers stay for a very long time. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and we are hoping that we now have a new generation of volunteers to move us forward for the years ahead.

Good luck with finding new volunteers.

Ann and Pam, Co-ordinator and Administrator (St Paul’s Child Contact Centre, Bracknell)

Why not checkout your local Facebook groups? https://www.facebook.com/groups/discover/

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Ann and Pam have sent in some photos of their hall as it now looks with social distancing measures implemented.

“We use a church hall and chalk the floor into quarters and set up a table for each family with a mixture of activities. We put a table in the middle with extra games etc if needed. We are open for 3 hours and have one and a half hour sessions so that we can have more than 4 families into a session. Spare tables are set up to one side so that when the first family leaves, we can move the used table and chairs out of the way and put a fresh clean table and activities straight in so as not to waste contact time.”

SPOTLIGHT: New centre to open in Bridgwater thanks to £5K local grant

NACCC sends out regular news to centres on local funds they might be able to apply for. Imagine our excitement when we found out that not only had one of these been successful, but the outcome was a brand-new child contact centre! Simon (co-ordinator of the accredited centres providing supported contact in Yeovil and Wincanton) shared their fantastic news back in January:

“I am pleased to let you know that Somerset Child Contact Centres has just won a grant to establish a new Child Contact Centre in the town of Bridgwater, Somerset. We have just been told by Hinckley Point C Community Fund – a fund that you kindly advertised to us – will be awarding us £5,000 for this purpose.”

We caught up with Simon to see how the project was progressing. He told us: “We have hired premises in Bridgwater. Our new centre will be at the Westfield United Reform Church which has a fantastic choice of rooms and a cafe on site – at least for future post-covid times. You can see from their website they provide a whole host of services to the local community.”

Local to Bridgwater? Fancy volunteering?

Bridgwater Child Contact Centre are looking for more volunteers so if you live in the area or know someone who does please do spread the word.

Bridgwater Child Contact Centre is currently going through the accreditation process to ensure that they can operate safely. This is fantastic news and will mean that local children will be able to benefit from this service run by local volunteers.

Watch this space for more news!

Simon, Somerset Child Contact Centres contact.yeovilwincanton@gmail.com

SPOTLIGHT: Buzz Sheffield tackling family poverty through their contact service

“It’s so important that people living in poverty and with debt can maintain and develop relationships with the child they don’t live with”

Buzz Sheffield are a provider of supported contact but are currently going through the enhanced accreditation in order that they can provide supervised contact. We asked them for an update on how they were getting on. Kath, co-ordinator at the centre writes:

“We are delighted to be doing our enhanced accreditation with NACCC and very proud that we will be the first accredited supervised service in Sheffield. We’re building an income stream through the supervised sessions to enable families experiencing economic disadvantage to benefit from a part or fully funded place. We recently received funding from the Souter Charitable Trust to provide 30 free supervised sessions to families living in poverty. It’s so important that people living in poverty and with debt can maintain and develop relationships with the child they don’t live with. We’re also looking to secure some funding for community contact sessions and we are really keen to develop the support we can give to families through a parent support network.”

“We’re also becoming increasingly aware of the food poverty affecting families so we’ve become a food hub for Food Works Sheffield and also take donations from Food Hub Sheffield and can offer healthy frozen meals that families can pre order and also cupboard essentials that we leave under a table near the exit so that families can take one if they want to without having to ask. Following on from that we are looking to develop a ‘Saturday kitchen’ so that families can eat together. We’re also busy sorting clothes we’ve been kindly donated to upload to our website for families to choose online and collect when they come for contact.”

“We’d love to hear from other centres developing ideas and see if we can get creative about how we can support families together!”

The link below takes you to a video showing you round the centre.


SPOTLIGHT: Help Handz contact centre tries our new testimonial feature

We now have the technology to add testimonials and photos on our find a centre web tool! We hope that this will help alleviate some of the anxieties that parents and children might have prior to using a contact centre. Help Handz, (an enhanced accredited centre providing a range of contact services in Ilford, Essex) has been the first to make use of this feature and is really pleased with the end result. Molly, co-ordinator told us “The testimonials and photos feature is fantastic and will help reassure children, parents and other family members wishing to use our service.”

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Why not try it out for your centre?

Log onto your manager account, scroll down to ‘Your centre details’ and you will see where you can add you’re a description of your centre, photos, testimonials and any local information that your clients might find helpful, such as public transport links.

And finally…

Please do check out the latest news from the website since the last newsletter:

New £500 mediation voucher scheme for separating parents

Mental health – separating in a pandemic

Recovery message from the President of the Family Division

Children’s Commissioner launches a once in a generation “Beveridge Report for children” with an ambition call to rebuild childhood after the Covid-19 pandemic

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 2021 (NACCC member centres exempt)

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