Bath Child Contact Centre – what is it and how does it help children and families?
Child contact centres play a key role in helping children affected by family breakdown to maintain contact with their non-resident parent or other significant family member. Family breakdown and separation can deeply affect children who often struggle to make sense of the new family dynamic.
There are families where relations between the separated parents can become fractured and communication is an issue. Some of these parents may not be able to agree on how or where the non-resident parent can spend time with their child(ren) after separation. This is where Bath Child Contact Centre can help by providing facilities for supported contact.
The centre provides a safe and neutral environment for these children, to spend some valuable time meeting and having play time with their non-resident parent or other family member. An experienced team of volunteers is on hand to offer support and reassurance where needed.
“We recognise the importance of maintaining and developing family relationships after separation as they support the child’s sense of belonging and wellbeing,” said Siobhan Thompson, a co-ordinator at the centre. “For the parents, supported contact may help them reflect on how they are going to co-parent in the future. Contact sessions can give separated families the opportunity to manage the change in their family’s situation and provide a stepping stone to more suitable, long term contact arrangements within the family or wider community.
“Open every Saturday from 2.30 – 4.30pm, the centre operates from the Central United Reformed Church Rooms, Grove Street, Bath. The children who come to centre are aged between 0 and 13 years old, more often 10 and under. The welfare of these children is our primary concern and we respect the need for confidentiality when dealing with sensitive family issues.”
The service offered by the centre is free, and the Bath Child Contact Centre is accredited by the National Association of Child Contact Centres which supports a nationwide network of centres providing supported and supervised child contact.
The success of the Centre is proven by the number of families who have moved on to make their own contact arrangements based on the foundations supported contact has helped them build. One parent recently commented, “I would like to thank you and your team on behalf of myself and X for the continued support, care and listening ear during X’s sessions at the Bath Child Contact Centre. It has been a turbulent ride but I am happy to report that X had a fantastic time with her Dad ….., it really looked like they had bonded superbly.”
“The last word must be about our volunteers whose dedication keeps the centre alive,” added Siobhan. “They are supportive of the client families and each other in circumstance that can be pressured and emotional. New volunteers are always warmly welcomed.
“If you or anyone you know is experiencing difficulties sorting out contact arrangements after family separation, please do give us a call as we may be able to help.”