What is a Child Contact Centre?
A Child Contact Centre is 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 the children first.
What is it like at Muswell Hill Centre?
You should be aware that the Centre does not provide supervised contact on a one to one basis and we do not provide reports on your visits.
The Centre is run by volunteers and there will normally be four of them on duty each time the Centre is open. They are impartial, so they do not take sides. They work to a strict confidentiality policy and have been police checked. They will try to answer any questions you may have. They are not especially qualified apart from their own life experiences. A Coordinator organises the overall running of the Centre.
The Centre has the use of two large and some smaller rooms. There are toys, puzzles, games, books etc. but you may also bring your children’s own. Please note that the Centre does not accept responsibility for items which you bring onto the premises. You will be responsible for them. When the weather is suitable it is often possible to play in the grounds.
When you arrive you will be asked to ‘sign in’. This register enables us to keep track of those on the premises if an emergency occurs.
There will be some occasions when parts of the premises are being used by other groups. Tea, coffee, squash and biscuits are available. Donations for these are always welcome but are not essential.
How are the visits arranged?
Visits are by referral, for which a one-off fee of £15 is required. (Cheques should be made payable to Muswell Hill Methodist Church.) The referral can be made by a social worker, solicitor, family mediator, or CAFCASS officer .The person making the referral will complete a referral form and send it to the Centre Co-ordinator.
The frequency and length of the contact visit is agreed in advance through your Social Worker or Solicitor and both partners. It will often be determined by a Court order.
Usually the Centre can offer fortnightly visits but for babies under a year it is sometimes possible to set up weekly visits.
Before any arrangements can be finalised each parent comes for a pre-visit, on separate occasions. This will give you all an opportunity to see the facilities we offer and to familiarise yourself and your children with the layout and situation of the Centre. After this you will need to confirm to your referrer that you are happy to come to the Centre. The date of your first visit will then be agreed.
Do I have to meet my ex-partner?
Not if you don’t want to. Please tell the volunteers when you arrive. There are separate waiting rooms available.
Parents are responsible for their children at all times so you will have to wait with your child until your former partner arrives. However one of the Centre volunteers can then deal with the handover so that you do not have to meet. But please note that volunteers are not go-betweens to pass messages, money or gifts between parents. If you wish to stay on the premises there are separate rooms where you can wait. If you do leave the premises please leave a contact number.
Does the Centre make reports about us?
A Child Contact Centre is independent of the courts, social services or any statutory agency. We do not provide reports on your visits. We will if requested by your referrer, supply details of dates and times of attendances.
What happens if I can’t come at a time when a visit has been arranged?
If you have to alter your arrangements please try to let your former partner know so they are not left waiting at the centre on the Saturday. (If this is not possible tell the person who referred you.) Please also advise the Centre as soon as possible by leaving a message for the Co-ordinator on 020 8444 2544. This may allow us to accommodate another family. If you find you are going to be late arriving on the Saturday please call the centre so that we know you are on your way.