EASTBOURNE VOLUNTEERS: The work of the Eastbourne Family Contact Centre
This week Kathryn Anderson, Coordinator of the Eastbourne Family Contact Centre tells us about their work and their volunteering opportunities.
“The Mothers’ Union is an international Christian charity whose aims and objectives are all concerned with encouraging marriage and family life and supporting families which have fallen on hard times. In the Diocese of Chichester (which includes East and West Sussex) our members help to raise money to support the Eastbourne Family Contact Centre.
“The centre is for children from separated families to be able to meet their non-resident parent, grandparent or sibling in a safe and neutral place at The Gateway Centre in Hampden Park on the first and third Saturdays of each month between 10.30 am till 1pm. It is a free service. The most important people in the Child Contact Centre are the children. We aim to create a warm, sociable atmosphere where the non-resident carers and their children can relax and enjoy themselves. There are a variety of games, toys and books for children of all ages.
“The volunteers provide tea, coffee and other refreshments in the foyer. There are separate arrival and departure times for the non-resident and resident carers and a separate waiting area for resident carers. Volunteers arrive at 9am to set up the family room, with appropriately aged toys. Time is allowed for a quiet moment of prayer and a pre-meeting before the first non-resident parent arrives. Two staff stay in the family room at all times during the contact session. This is for the benefit of both the child and the carers. Clearing up occurs after the last child has left the premises and all is completed by approximately 1.30pm.There is a mandatory expectation for all staff to take part in the training sessions that have been produced by the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) to whom the centre is accredited.
“The modules include: safeguarding, family breakdown, health and safety, working with dads, conflict management, domestic abuse, understanding substance misuse, managing reluctant family members and family risk assessment. An experienced colleague will arrange to take the new volunteer through the induction module, usually on a one-to-one basis.
“The other nine mandatory modules, take place as face to face team sessions over a three-year period. Workbooks are also available to work through at one’s own pace. Volunteers have a vital role in remaining impartial at all times, work to a strict confidentiality policy and will have had an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Certificate, renewed every three years .Are you cheerful, assertive, reassuring and understanding of the issues that affect separating families? Are you able to build relationships whilst remaining impartial? Can you deal with difficult situations and parents under stress? Are you prepared to work as part of a team? If you can answer YES to these questions perhaps you’d like to consider applying to be one of our volunteers.”