Guest blog – Martin Cox “Carlisle Child Contact Centre”

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Carlisle Child Contact Centre – so parenting needn’t end when a partnership does by Martin Cox, Coordinator.

Divorce and separation is almost always a very difficult time for everyone involved. Sometimes the fallout of broken relationships means that children can lose contact with the parent they are not residing with. There are many different reasons for this and Carlisle Child Contact Centre exists to provide a supported environment for contact to be re-established and move forward to ongoing contact independent of the centre.

The volunteers at a Child Contact Centre are there to help provide a safe, friendly and neutral place where children of separated families can spend time with one or both parents, and sometimes other family members. It is a child-centred environment that puts the needs of children first.

“Supported contact” means that there is no close observation, monitoring or evaluation of individual contacts/conversations. The Child Contact Centre is a charity and independent of the courts, social services or any statutory agency. We do not make any reports about visits, apart from dates and times of attendance. The only exception is if we believe that a child is at risk, or if a member of staff, volunteer or Centre user is at risk of harm.

The Carlisle Child Contact Centre has been running for over 16 years and is run by fully trained volunteers, involved because they want to support children in having contact with their parents. They are impartial, so they do not take sides. They work to a strict confidentiality policy and all have been DBS checked.

The Centre is currently based in a nursery school and has a variety of games, toys and books for children of all ages. We also facilitate handovers where the parents want a neutral venue to meet at for contact that goes on outside the centre.

Families can refer themselves to the Centre or ask a professional that is involved to do it for them i.e. solicitor, social worker etc. They can contact me directly for advice about how to do this or find the forms on our website.

The referral process takes at least two weeks from when I receive the referral, sometimes longer if there is a waiting list for places at the Centre. I’ll invite each party invited to attend an initial referral appointment at the centre to complete the referral process.

Dependent on the outcome of this the family may be offered a regular time and date to attend for sessions or as a neutral venue for handovers, whatever they’ve requested.

Before the first contact session, if they haven’t already attended we will invite the resident parent to bring the child/children involved in the contact to the Centre. This will help the children to get to know the volunteers and the surroundings.

Our sessions run on Saturday mornings 9am to 1pm. Our service is Free to families and is currently funded through the generous support of the Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, Cafcass and the Carlisle and District Law Society. If anyone would like to fundraise for our service we would be very grateful.

We also need volunteers to join our team. Volunteers usually cover 1 session per month. If you can spare this time please get in touch and arrange a visit.

Martin Cox, Coordinator, Carlisle Child Contact Centre

Website: http://carlislechildcontactcentre.org

Email: coordinator@carlislechildcontactcentre.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carlislechildcontactcentre

Tel: 07710 653962

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Carlisle Child Contact Centre is a registered charity: 1061320 and an Accredited Member of the National Association of Child Contact Centre (Accredited Member of National Association of Child Contact Centres, Member No: 087/1. www.naccc.org.uk

*The opinions expressed are the bloggers own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Health Innovation Summit.

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