We’ve just had child contact centre awareness week and another successful drop-in day to promote our centre so I feel compelled to say a few things about it.
I have been involved with the child contact centre for all the too-long-to-remember time I’ve been with my service. While doing my counselling diploma I applied for so many voluntary posts. Finally I began my counselling practice at a health centre in Glasgow. A few days later I received a call from the manager of the then South Lanarkshire Family Mediation service. She asked if I was interested in helping out with their very small but busy contact centre. I had no idea what that was, but once she explained it to me I knew I was hooked and that the centres were a worthwhile facility.
I’m still hooked. I am very proud of how our wee, busy centre has become one very large and even busier (open on Sundays too) centre with another one as well. This is testament to the hard work and dedication of the people who have stuck by the centres even in the midst of funding and pay cuts, and some very challenging situations.
People don’t tend to know about child contact centres unless they have to use them. The centres can be a stepping stone for parents moving on to mediation or making arrangements by themselves. Sometimes a centre can offer a space for a parent and child to spend time together as opposed to at the other parent’s house or in a public place. It can also go some way to helping a parent settle into, or even come to terms with, a contact that they didn’t want to happen in the first place. I enjoy the fact that in my role I can help parents to do either one of these.
Coming to a child contact centre can be daunting for all involved. I have seen reluctant children, anxious mums and even some dads with knocking knees. It is a powerful thing to witness a successful contact and just as powerful to see an unsuccessful one. Many people remark that they couldn’t deal with the heartbreak that can be seen and felt at a contact centre, and we do say that being the manager can be a lonely job sometimes. However, I have long since told myself that if there is one happy, smooth contact a day then that’s good enough and it’s guaranteed that all involved will have put in hard work to achieve that.