Welcome to our newsletter. This is a shorter version than normal, but we are trying to keep you as up to date as possible. 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…
NACCC’s submission to the Public Bill Committee on the Domestic Abuse Bill
In response to the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-21 NACCC is seeking an amendment to the Bill to ensure ‘all Child Contact Centres and organisations that offer facilities or services for child contact to be accredited in England and Wales.’ Our President Sir James Munby said the amendment will ensure that “every child can experience the same high level of care and safeguarding where circumstances have necessitated their involvement with the family justice system and Child Contact Centres or Services”. If adopted the proposal means all Child Contact Centres and Services will be appropriately and consistently managed and that standards and safeguarding are of a high and consistent quality across England and Wales.
The Public Bill Committee has now completed its work. The Bill is now due to have its report stage and third reading in the House of Commons before moving to the House of Lords. https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/domesticabuse.html
Seminar: Child contact centres in lockdown and beyond
A webinar ‘Child Contact Centres in Lockdown and Beyond’ was organised featuring talks by Sir James Munby (President of NACCC), Elizabeth Coe (Chief Executive Officer) and Philip Coleman (Service Development Manager). The seminar explained the work NACCC was doing providing a safe system of work for centres providing video contact during the pandemic. There was an opportunity for centres to submit questions.
A recording of the seminar can be found on this link: https://youtu.be/cGkqvTdMvbM
NACCC would like to thank Anne Dillon (Vice Chair of NACCC) and 42 Bedford Row Barristers for hosting the event.
Video contact providing precious moments for families
Since the covid-19 outbreak over 50 centres have been providing contact services for families using technology despite their venues being closed. This has been a time that has affected all relationships but has particularly impacted on children not able to see family members due to parental separation. However, NACCC accredited contact centres have risen to the occasion and have ventured into new territory with some surprising and unexpected results for families. Stories of the amazing work being done have been coming through which we wanted to share with you.
“Using technology to facilitate contact has brought some surprising and unexpected opportunities for families… this is a new opportunity for contact centres for the future, with people now realising that distance is not a limiting factor for contact.”
Family Ties like other providers were inundated with requests to continue facilitating contact. They investigated several solutions working with families, security experts and professionals to find an optimum solution for families. They told us:
“Ensuring and maintaining family links was found critically important for those children where the lockdown and parental separation had put a stop to the majority of face-to-face encounters. But during this time using technology to facilitate the contact, some surprising and unexpected opportunities for families to do things in during contact they have never achieved before.”
“The first thing we started with was a pre-contact meeting with both parties to ensure technology worked, and the rules of contact with clear expected outcomes were explained. Arranging 30min sessions for the contact was seen as the optimum time for the virtual contact session with most children. But that did not mean all contacts lasted the full 30mins and both parties were made aware of this during pre-contact meeting.”
“Contact included helping with home schooling, story time to interactive games. Using the guidelines from NACCC and other professionals we helped families move from unstructured to really structured positive contact. Parties used to telephone calls with poor interaction were supported to a situation with both parties excited to fill the full 30mins with activities.”
“So far Family Ties has facilitated over 100 sessions with multiple ages of children from 6months old to 14 years old. All sessions are very different from a 6-month old playing peekaboo to all sorts of stories around films and games they have played. The key thing out of all sessions was to make sure they ended on a positive note. Ensuring that keeping all parties updated and ensuring contact started on-time and was consistent meant that all were happy with the sessions. This does add a new opportunity for contact centres for the future, with people now realising that distance is not a limiting factor for contact. By using a third party has helped families to ensure problem phone calls can be replaced by a positive virtual contact.”
“We have been able to identify children who feel nervous about seeing their parent face-to-face and who maybe haven’t done so for a number of months or years and give them this opportunity to begin contact in this way…”
Video contact has been a new service for Cheltenham Child Contact Centre which has been set up over the last month. Sarah, Co-ordinator describes their experience:
“I couldn’t help feel disappointed when lockdown was announced for those children who would miss out on seeing the parent they don’t live with and can only see in the safety of a contact centre. It was important to me that we were able to offer facetime contact for these children. Our staff have been working hard to set this up and have seen this grow and grow over the last few weeks. We have now begun to start new referrals which have come through to the centre over the lockdown period.”
“For me as manager, seeing a child and her father have their first session of facetime was one of those moments worth ‘getting out of bed for’ – to witness an 8-year-old girl talk and talk to her father for the hour’s session was lovely. The father also had a letter and some pictures from the girl’s grandparents which he read to her, making her smile more and more. The whole session from start to finish was awe inspiring and I feel a privilege to be a part of that special moment. The girl’s mum (resident parent) said that her father could facetime her on her birthday and I sat on the call for this. This was something that without this means to do contact, could never have happened. The girl’s father told me.
“These sessions on Zoom have been really valuable to me, without them, I wouldn’t have been able to maintain contact with my daughter. They have also helped me with my mental health, I have been suffering a bit lately, the zoom sessions really do lift my mood and make my day.”
I think what has been the best thing about these facetime contact sessions is that we have been able to identify children who feel nervous about seeing their parent face to face and who maybe haven’t done so for a number of months or years and give them this opportunity to begin contact in this way. We feel at the Cheltenham Child Contact Centre that this will become another tool in our contact belt and we will continue to use this in certain situations once face to face contact can resume. We can identify a number of cases where this is a great means for beginning contact, as another part in the stepping-stones of resuming normal contact once more. Cheltenham Contact Centre has been able to offer this to children of all ages including sibling groups. It’s been wonderful to be a part of this lockdown experience for these families and even though like others we are hoping to resume face to face contact soon, we feel we have been able to maintain family relationships with children and a parent they no longer live with in what has been these unprecedented times.”
A useful contingency but not a replacement for face-to-face contact with #digitalpoverty affecting many
This is not the end of the story. Video contact may be a useful tool for centres to harness as they start to reopen. Children and parents living in different parts of the country may be able to keep in touch to a degree who would not have been able to previously. Service families with a parent deployed overseas for long periods may also find this helpful if contact is a struggle. NACCC is committed to supporting any member centre considering using video contact in the future.
We have produced a micro site for its members and external organisations with full guidance on using technology to enable contact to happen. The site contains an overview, a step by step guide, guidance on how to Skype, a contact agreement and more.
A rapid evidence review published by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory of the effects of digital contact on the well-being of children in care describes digital contact as having advantages over more formal contact sessions in being more immediate, less formal and can help facilitate relationships. Digital contact (with appropriate support) allowed children and young people to feel more connected to their birth families, develop their sense of identity, and have more freedom and control over contact arrangements.
However, as pointed out by the study although this has been a useful contingency measure when face to face contact is not possible it should not be seen as a long-term replacement for direct contact. It acknowledges that there are benefits of face-to-face contact that are lost through digital contact alone.
The study points out that access to digital technology, good quality internet connections and skills varies significantly throughout the UK meaning that digital contact is not possible for all young people and their families. NACCC has appealed to tech suppliers to come forward and assist in this venture.
1 The effects of digital contact on children’s well-being: evidence from public and private law contexts Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (published May 2020) https://www.nuffieldfjo.org.uk/resource/digital-contact-childrens-wellbeing
Training update June 2020
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.
Consequently, we have now significantly expanded our repertoire of online content. Initially NACCC delivered a session with the support of Family Ties Child Contact Centre providing information support and guidance to centres about Tech Contact. Since then we have continued with this theme and offered sessions relating to the “Our Family Wizard” App as well as the role of National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV).
Moving forward we will be seeking to review other courses and whether they might be offered with the aid of technology. Our next planned sessions are taking place on the 6th July and will focus on sharing ideas and Peer Support relating to the reopening of Supported Child Contact Centres. This too has been immensely popular and new dates are continually being added.
Domestic abuse training
The covid-19 lockdown had a significant impact on the numbers of people accessing the support lines of domestic abuse charities in April with Refuge reporting a 700% increase in calls. Aware that this was likely to be impacting on some of the families that we work with and placing children at an increased risk NACCC partnered with Mick Curtin from NCDV in order to be able to offer a free online training opportunity held via Zoom on the 30th April. All 100 spaces for this free event were snapped up, leading to NACCC offering 4 more dates, which also filled. In total approximately 470 people were offered placed on this session. Attendance reached far beyond the realms of NACCC membership as a result of people sharing the information with was a very pleasant surprise. The reach achieved meant that we had teachers, social worker, solicitors, magistrates and even a Judge in attendance.
Child contact centre staff and volunteers who have sent us great feedback:
“I thought the training yesterday was excellent! Good presentation – good pace of delivery – made very interesting – time well spent. More of this type please!”
“I have just been watching Michael Curtin’s talk, and thank you very much indeed for organising it. It has been extremely useful”
The training explained the purpose of NCDV, how they help victims of Domestic Violence and also how we help those agencies who refer them to us. It included how you would refer victims to them (with their consent), emergency injunctions and other orders that can be obtained including Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs).
Please do visit our YouTube Channel if you would like to see a recording from a previous session that Mick has delivered with NACCC.
Or you can contact NCDV direct on firstname.lastname@example.org to organise a free 45 minute session. Posters, cards & pens can also be ordered from NCDV https://www.ncdv.org.uk/information-for-police-agencies/order-posters-cards-and-pens/
NACCC are also providing ample opportunities for centres to support another online. Of course, we’re also there too if needed. We now have accounts on Facebook and WhatsApp, specifically set up as safe spaces for centres to support one and other. So far these have been received amazingly. These groups have grown into little communities in their own right. It never ceases to amaze us how knowledgeable and helpful a community we work with. Do contact me for further details.
Green phone initiative – free advice for victims of domestic abuse
In response to offer more support during the pandemic Only Mums mobilised family law professionals to give up their time to talk to DV victims for free. This was to help tackle the spiralling level of calls for help from victims trapped in Covid-19 lockdown with abusive partners.
NACCC became a Covid-helper for OnlyMums & OnlyDads, helping to promote the scheme to its supporters and visitors to the website. What this means in practice is that we have written an article aimed at supporting the people that visit their website and that we have staff on hand to provide advice and support to the general public, free of charge, should they require this.
Solicitors displaying the green telephone icon on the Family Law Panel website will hold free conversations with individuals concerned about any possible domestic abuse situation in their household. https://thefamilylawpanel.org/about-us
Coffee Shop Live
NACCC has hosted a number of online events which have had great take up amongst child contact centre staff and volunteers. We are constantly looking for new ways to support the amazing people that we are incredibly fortunate to work with every day. We now have social media groups where centres support one and other and these have become invaluable.
To continue this, we are immensely excited to announce the development of our new ‘Coffee Shop Live’. This will provide a Live version of the Coffee Shop that has long been run through the NACCC Website. Therefore, we invite you to bring your own agenda, drink, and biscuits.
The time can be used to talk about anything that is relevant to the operation of Child Contact Centres and we can share the experiences, memories, knowledge, and wisdom of other members.
Please see flier for further details.
Phil Coleman, Service Development Manager
Spotlight: Training gets thumbs up in Exeter
“I would highly recommend volunteers undertake any online training that is offered to them. I now feel empowered with more knowledge regarding the safeguarding of children and family members using our centre”
I decided to volunteer at Exeter’s child contact centre as I wanted to be involved with some meaningful work which has the power to really support young children. Since beginning volunteer work with the centre, I have learnt vast amounts about the safeguarding of children, team working with a diverse and lovely group of individuals and more about the organisational aspects of the NACCC. The team at the Exeter centre have a wide variety of careers and personal experience but everyone is joined in the goal of supporting families and being a part of a meaningful organisation.
Volunteers at Exeter’s child contact centre are facilitators and hosts. We ensure the location is warm and welcoming and the interaction has everything it needs, to be a really positive experience for all parties involved. We are on hand for a chat, to make a cup of coffee and only keep records of who comes in and out of the centre. It is incredibly rewarding to enable families to maintain or build positive relationships.
During the lockdown I was recommended to sign up to a domestic violence training session, facilitated by the NACCC and led by the National Centre for Domestic Violence. The training session was eye opening and I feel empowered with more knowledge regarding the safeguarding of children, parents, and other family members. The session shared invaluable insights into how the law can be used to protect these individuals, such as use of non-molestation orders. The virtual training was very seamless and easy to engage with. I would highly recommend any volunteers undertake any online training that is offered to them. The more knowledge we are empowered with the better our safeguarding ability, both for the individuals using the contact centre and for all other individuals we meet at work or university and in our daily lives. I am very grateful to the NACCC for doing this meaningful work. I’m also very thankful for the warm and welcoming team at the Exeter Southernhay Child Contact Centre for teaching and training me more about this important cause.
Social media resources for centres
We have recently shared a social media toolkit to help centres promote themselves online. provides resources and guidance to support members, stakeholders, and partners of NACCC in promoting their services and communicating the benefits of child contact centres on social media.
Checkout the toolkit for information, advice, and tips on publishing content on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, including ready-made posts and links to our social media assets/infographics that you can use to promote your centre.
The following infographics use the key points from NACCC’s messaging and help to convey the following messages:
1. the numbers of children impacted by separation in the UK,
2. the impact that lack of parental contact or exposure to conflict,
3. the value of child contact centres alongside mediation and parenting plans to help parents sort contact without having to resort to going to court
4. the value of early intervention to help reduce the emotional impact divorce and separation can have on a child
5. to help encourage people to volunteer at a child contact centre
These resources are available to download via a Dropbox link on this webpage https://naccc.org.uk/stakeholder-campaign You can either download the infographics as animated images (gifs) or stand-alone images if you prefer.
Infographic 1 – communicating the numbers of children impacted by separation in the UK
Infographic 2 – communicating the impact that lack of parental contact or exposure to conflict
Infographic 3 – communicating the value of child contact centres alongside mediation and parenting plans to help parents sort contact without having to resort to going to court
Infographic 4 – communicating the value of early intervention to help reduce the emotional impact divorce and separation can have on a child
Infographic 5 – to help encourage more people to volunteer at a child contact centre
New website and children’s resources underway
NACCC staff have been working with Rusty Monkey a creative agency based in Nottingham to develop new stories for younger and older children to work alongside a new website for NACCC. Partly funded by the People’s Postcode Trust has been slightly delayed due to the pandemic but we are trying to keep it as on target as possible and are very excited by progress to date. We have been delighted to work in consultation with the Family Justice Young People’s Board, getting their feedback at appropriate points during the process.
We will keep you posted and share updates when we can.
Raising funds for child contact centres
During these difficult times NACCC is looking to secure funding from government and trusts to support centres. However, there is a lot of demand for funding in the current Covid 19 crisis and much of the government’s funding is targeted at emergency crisis support at this time. To support centres with ideas on how you can raise funds, we have put together a feature on Chiltern Child Contact Centre below and highlighted some opportunities and further information sources, which centres may wish to explore.
We will continue to share potential funding opportunities for local centres to apply to and training resources to enable centres to raise funding independently.
Feature: Chiltern Child Contact Centre
Chiltern Child Contact Centre has been successfully raising funding for many years and Bob Marshall, from the centre, shares some ideas on how to raise funding at this difficult time. “Fundraising is a team effort, and everybody is part of that team. Our initial funding was as a result of a close relationship with local organisations such as housing association, churches, councillors, solicitors and charities. This gave us a lot of ‘pull’.
We also ‘appointed’ a trustee whose job was to raise funds, search for grant giving trusts and manage a budget for fundraising. We emphasised the desire for a continuing relationship for a number of years with organisations, to help fundraising be more sustainable.
Current volunteers are a great source of information and support, volunteers are often members of other groups, gyms, choirs, bands, U3A, walking groups, bridge clubs and orchestras to name a few organisations who may provide funding.
Some of these clubs and groups may wish to adopt a charity for twelve months or be willing to put on a quiz night, a concert or some form of fundraising event. Chiltern Centre receive donations from these sources.” Finally Bob said “we are looking forward and are planning to re-open again hopefully in a few weeks.”
Top tips: write to
- Local churches
- Local Housing Association many of these have a social/community fund.
- Local charities eg Rotary, Lions, Muffins, Round Table, Mothers union.
- Family law solicitors
- Housing associations – many of these have a social/community fund.
- Local U3A (University of the Third Age) – many will have a newsletter and an article/appeal may attract donors
- Local legacy funds
Focus on developing long term relationships with local organisations who want to support your work, reach out to local organisations directly or through networking events to create these relationships.
Chiltern Child Contact Centre, through this approach, has received grants from Chiltern District Council and Heart of Bucks. Their Supporters include St Aidan’s Church, Amersham Free Church, Paradigm Housing Group, Cafcass, Amersham Town Council, Amersham Community Choir, Amersham Town Council, Misbourne Matins Rotary Club, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chiltern District Council, Monday Club, Amersham Mayor’s Fund, Old Town Methodist Church, IBB Charitable Trust, Davina Kirby and Co and Aviva Community Fund.
How to start the journey
Brain storming: everybody should think about fundraising and come up with ideas and options.
Develop an ‘elevator pitch’: Bob suggests “if speaking to a group, have a prepared script or some notes and be imaginative. Do put some emotion and passion into it, it is a belief. Make sure the pitch has a hook”. Don’t forget the value Child Contact Centres provide in protecting the child’s interests and “maintaining the child-parent relationship beyond separation”.
Fundraising materials: use the pitch to develop fundraising materials such as emails and letters. When applying to local organisations try to be specific about what you want funds for, how much you need and the benefits it will provide and ensure the request is appropriate and addresses the organisations eligibility criteria. Requests could include insurance premium, training fees, colour photocopying/printing, toys and books. Offer to show the donor’s logo on your website and emails for their support of a local charity.
Identify funders: We have included some links below to potential national funding opportunities and fundraising resources. Ruth circulates a regular email on local opportunities from NCVO Funding Central, which we’d encourage centres to read. However, time will need to be spent in researching options and submitting bid applications and developing relationships.
Keep going: Raising funding for organisations is hard work and there may well be a few ‘nos’ before a business, trust or local charity offer to fund one of your requests. Keep going, stay persistent and remember tenacity wins the day
1. Have a brain storming meeting – get everyone thinking about fundraising, who is in your network, what can you do, who you can approach and what opportunities are out there.
2. Strategy – what do you need the funding for and how much will it cost?
3. Create an elevator pitch – how do Child Contact Centres support the local community in keeping children in contact with their parents and grandparents?
4. Don’t forget the ‘hook’ to start the pitch and capture everyone’s imagination!
5. Create some materials for potential funders – PowerPoint slides help.
6. Identify potential fundraisers – business, trusts and local organisations.
7. Keep going! Stay persistent and remember tenacity wins the day
- https://tescobagsofhelp.org.uk/tesco-community-grants/ (currently on hold but grants available https://www.bvsc.org/news/tesco-bags-help-funding-covid-19-update )
3. Local Police Property Act Fund
3. Yapp Charitable Trust – small UK charities, grants up to £3k. https://yappcharitabletrust.org.uk/
4. Neighbourly – micro-grants of up to £400, for good causes that are helping communities. www.neighbourly.com
- All our latest guidance for parents, families and centres with regards to the coronavirus can be found in our dedicated Coronavirus update section on our website
- MoJ consultation outcome: Assessing risk of harm to children and parents in private law children cases
- Physical play with fathers may help children control emotions, Cambridge University study finds
A new novel ‘Love That Lasts Forever’ has been written by Pat Barrow, Chair of the Shropshire Contact Centres and published by Austin Macauley. The main character Hettie, now an adult, relives her childhood and adolescence looking back on the impact the conflict, separation and divorce of her parents has had on her life. She can appreciate how ill equipped she was to deal with the conflict of loyalties and emotions that evoked realising that the eating disorder she has struggled with is just one of the many consequences of her painful experience.
This novel sets out to encourage separating parents to prioritise their child’s needs and to recognise the lasting damage they can cause them if their conflict becomes entrenched. For more info go to www.austinmacauley.com
New! Separation & Parenting Through The Pandemic is the latest title from Only Mums & Dads. It covers changes to the way family law and family courts are operating including guidance on remote hearings, keeping up contact with children remotely as well as a detailed chapter for those effected by domestic abuse with advice from the police and a number of accredited professionals. The book contains a UK-wide list of support organisations for those going through divorce/separation.This accompanies Only Mums & Dads’ other title ‘101 Questions Answered About Separating With Children’ (published last year) and can be ordered online
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 2020 (NACCC member centres exempt)