Kendal Child Contact Centre helps the children of separated families keep in touch with parents and other family members.
Would you like to help local children whose families have separated? Can you help our volunteer coordinator/coordinator team?
Did you know that Kendal has a supported Child Contact Centre run entirely by volunteers? Kendal Child Contact Centre is a safe, friendly and neutral place where children of separated families can spend time with one or both parents, brothers and sisters and sometimes other family members or significant adults.
Our local centre in Kendal is accredited by the registered charity, National Association of Child Contact Centres, www.naccc.org.uk. The centre is open on alternate Saturdays from 2pm to 4pm.
The first contact with a parent that a child no longer lives with can be fraught, particularly if it is a while since they last met. Children need to feel safe in this situation. Witnessing conflict between their parents and other family members affects children and this can be minimised by using Child Contact Centres so that the adults who are struggling to resolve conflict do not meet.
In this way Child Contact Centres provide a unique service for families, they can be used as a handover point as well as a venue for family members to meet children, with age appropriate activities available, and trained impartial volunteers on hand to help and give reassurance to children and parents usually on a temporary basis to help establish arrangements for the future.
Volunteers are available for assistance to enable family members to develop and maintain positive relationships with children. Supported Child Contact Centres are used by families where there is no significant risk to the child or those around the child. There is no close observation, monitoring or evaluation of individual contacts or conversations.
There are approximately 247 supported Child Contact Centres in the UK. The first was set up in Nottingham in 1985 by a magistrate who became aware of the lack of informal venues where children could meet the parent they no longer lived with.
Until recently most families who use the centre were referred by solicitors who had Legal Aid contracts. Legal Aid for advice and representation in disputes between families about what used to be called “access” or “contact” and is now called “child arrangements” has been restricted. Even if you are receiving income support, unless you can provide evidence of domestic abuse or your case is exceptional Legal Aid will no longer pay for a solicitor to help you. Since the Legal Aid rules changed the number of families using the centres has dropped, leading to the closure of the Lancaster Child Contact Centre, together with other centres in the North West area.
Kendal’s Centre is supported by Stricklandgate Methodist Church who allow use of their facilities, at minimal cost. It is only because the Centre does not pay an economic rent and the volunteers give their time and commitment that this service can be provided free of charge for local children.
Kendal Child Contact Centre is proud to have enabled contact between children and their parents, siblings, and grandparents in the local community since 1997.
If you or a family member want to find out more about the centre please contact Barbara Richardson at Baines Bagguley Penhale Solicitors, 22 Sun Street, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1ER on 01524 401010 or the Child Contact Centre co-ordinator on 0779 1139 338.