Pam, Sandra and Jeanette set up the East Northants Supported/Supervised Child Contact Centre in December 2014 following the contact centre (which was part of a Family Centre) that they worked for closing due to financial reasons:

Contact room at East Northants Child Contact Services (CIC)

“We were so upset for our families [when the centre closed] that we decided to hurriedly set up our own Child Contact Centre.  We started off with nothing, applying for and asking for financial support from lots of local sources. We were also given office equipment, computers, toys etc and were so pleased that a local church were very supportive and accommodating, shared our vision and let us hire their church hall / rooms and facilities and important storage of toys/activities. It was a perfect building as it has three separate entrances which is great for keeping estranged parents apart. We also were immediately in touch with NACCC who were very supportive and helped us to achieve the high standards we wanted to have in place, especially with the support of Louis (NACCC’s Service Development Manager, recently retired) who was always available to give us extra advice. We eventually received our Enhanced Accreditation Membership of NACCC the following June.”

“Since then, we have had a steep learning curve and rely on a great team of people lead by our Contact Manager Pam Housman. We are proud to have members of staff (who are self-employed) and great volunteers, all underpinned by a very professional management committee who monitor our progress and who we are accountable to and are representative of a very useful range of experience and qualifications including two family solicitors, the minister of the church where we are based, a local business man, a marketing/graphic designer, an experienced person from the original contact centre, an ex-Contact Manager and a cyber security expert.”

“We are continually managing our budget and fundraising to keep the centre running”

“We are a registered Community Interest Company (non-profit making). Our Families pay to use our services to cover our overheads. We are continually managing our budget and cash flow and often organise regular fundraising events… We held a mad hatters afternoon tea party and staff dressed up and re-enacted scenes from the film…also we paired up with local charity to collect money as we walk around the streets with Santa and his sleigh…and play lots of lovely Christmas music…the children love it. We do it every year – wind, rain, snow – we are there. Regular coffee mornings/sales, pizza nights, sponsored walks, sponsored skydive, the list goes on…”

Scenarios help to raise awareness…

“We take every opportunity to share what we do with local organisations (for example local churches, The Rotary Club and the Family Justice Board). We want to make sure that everyone has heard of us. These scenarios are usually very moving for people who haven’t come across this sort of work before…”

“Our daughter knows me, which is the best thing and is more than I could have hoped for. I am in a better place now”

“I was in a low place, I drank too much, I don’t really remember what I did but I hit my wife, they said, Police were called, I was arrested and ended up in Prison. Actually, this was a good thing because they changed my life. I went on a Course and had counselling and stopped drinking. I thought I would never see my daughter ever again. I was broken hearted at what I had done, and what I had lost. When I got back to normal my ex-wife got in touch. She so wanted our child to know her Dad and have a relationship with me. I couldn’t believe this, was this a second chance, to put things right?  So, with the help of the Contact Centre, I now see my daughter regularly. I’ve been with them a long time and now my ex-partner invites me to see our daughter in school concerts and to family events and special outings. Last Christmas I booked a room at the Contact Centre for all our family to have a get together with our daughter to have a Christmas party. The Contact Centre arranged for Father Christmas to visit and decorated the room, we had a family photograph taken, it was a lovely time and our daughter knows me, which is the best thing and is more than I could have hoped for. I’m in a better place now.”

“I wanted to hurt him like he’d hurt me, but I had to be brave and do as the court asked…”

“We had big rows, we thought our little girls were tucked up in bed, fast asleep, totally unaware. Out of the blue he’d come home and told me it was over, he was in love with someone else at work. We had a heated argument, how could he do this to us, things got out of hand, I asked him to leave, he wouldn’t, we shouted and pushed each other, I managed to get him outside and slam the front door, he was hammering on the door, wanting to get his things and say goodbye to our girls. I turned around and our little girls were cowering at the top of the stairs, terrified by what they had witnessed.  I will never let him near our girls again, he doesn’t deserve them, he’s let them down so badly.  Apart from this night, he’d been a good and loving dad, the girls missed him so much. They don’t understand about adult issues, they just want to see their dad.  This is very hard for me, but he went to court and got permission to see them. It was very difficult at first, I wanted to hurt him like he’d hurt me but I had to be brave and do as the court asked. I took the girls along to the contact centre. The girls went running in easily to see dad, they’d missed him so much, although they did have difficult questions to ask him which he was able to explain to them in a safe and supported environment.  After a few months, things improved, the girls loved seeing their dad and the court said that it could move in to the community as normal.  The contact centre helped us parents put a plan together to agree where the children would be picked up and dropped off at, who would do this, putting in place a Communication Book – like a diary that travelled with the girls so that both parents could read what they children had been doing, what their likes and dislikes are, any allergies, clothes sizes, any special achievements and clubs attended etc., emergency contact phone numbers in place etc.  It was a long and difficult road but we’re getting there now, and the girls are very happy to have both parents in their lives.”

“We have a lovely team of qualified, experienced, trained staff and volunteers who give their all, beyond the call of duty… who are a pleasure to have on the team”

“Now in our fourth year, we continue to be busy accepting referrals from private and public law families and are proud to support children to have a relationship with both parents. This year our staff and volunteers now wear our recognised t-shirts/polo shirts with our logo on, we now have our registered office in the same building as our child contact centre and we continue to review all our policies and procedures as we go along. We have a lovely team of qualified, experienced, trained staff and volunteers who give their all, beyond the call of duty who are a pleasure to have on the team, and we want to say a huge thank you to them, without them we couldn’t do this important work.”

GDPR and Accreditation success: “I would encourage all centres to embrace the NACCC Enhanced Accreditation Assessment as a positive experience…“

“We were one of the first contact centres to achieved GDPR Full Cyber Certification. This was a huge challenge and took a team effort of senior staff led by our appointed person Linda Price and advice from an expert. We are very proud of this. In June we welcomed Ann, our NACCC Assessor for our 3 Year Enhanced Accreditation Assessment, which I’m happy to say that we passed.  Ann was so supportive and encouraging, I would encourage all child contact centres to embrace this NACCC service as a positive experience. We have a business plan / vision for the future where we may start to offer life story work and may be offering drug tests and who knows what else we may tackle, watch this space.”

Welcoming our local MP

We are looking forward to our MP Tom Pursglove (Corby and East Northants area) visiting our centre this month and are making plans to welcome him and to keep him informed of the important work we continue to do for separated families in conflict. We are very proud of our child contact centre – if anyone would like to come and have a look round, please get in touch with us, you would be very welcome.”

Pam Housman (Contact Manager), Linda Price (Deputy Contact Manager and Jeanette Maddams (Company Secretary) Directors of ENCCC

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