Kay Ashe – Project Leader at Outlook Contact Services has told us about a small selection of cases that they have dealt with, telling us “The work is so varied – no two cases are ever the same. We find ourselves having to think on our feet!”
A couple came to us to help with contact arrangements – they had recently separated and there was a huge amount of animosity between them. They could not agree on arrangements, be in the same room as each other and therefore needed a safe environment to enable the parent that had moved out to spend time each week with their two girls…
Gradually, as the weeks went by, I could see that they were no longer trying to avoid each other as they had been at the start. The sessions had helped them to realise ‘Hey – we’ve got two great kids here!’ and they started to work together to ensure their girls’ happiness and well-being. They started texting each other about arrangements and then approached us to set up a meeting so that they could plan the way forward which the non-resident parent could present to the courts… So, with both of them present, we came up with a bullet pointed schedule of how they would work towards overnight stays. I understand the Courts were impressed and as far as I know, all is well!
“The process at your centre has made me wake up to life!”
Another case was a young man who wanted to see his very young son. He lived over 200 miles away from our centre and was using public transport. He was full of aggression with staff and life in general – yet so soft and caring with his son…
The mother was reluctant at first to leave the toddler with us, so it was mutually agreed that she would come into the centre for the first few minutes of the first few supervised contacts. She was amazing in that she was able to ignore the father’s moods and just concentrated on handing over a bright and happy little boy with a smile on her face. The reports we wrote on how contact was going were very positive. The father soon realised that the happier he was, the happier everyone was! This case went back to court and granted that he could have unsupervised contact which increased as the weeks passed by. A few weeks later, I did a ‘double take’ as I saw a face I recognised standing in our waiting area holding the biggest bunch of flowers and a card. This young chap had found himself in our area through work and had taken the trouble to come to our venue with this wonderful token of thanks. He told me that the process had made him wake up to life. He shook my hand and said that he will always be grateful for the experience.
So many more cases – all different – and some with not such happy endings, but in all respects we strive to make our service as welcoming for families and children as possible.
Kay Ashe, Project Leader for Outlook Contact Services, an enhanced accredited centre in Ashford, Kent