1.Why did you decide to pursue a career in child contact centres and family mediation?
While doing the Diploma in counselling I found Relationships Scotland – Family Mediation South Lanarkshire while looking for a placement. Although not relevant to my training I spoke to the manager who explained the CCC and I was immediately interested and drawn to a worthwhile sounding service. I applied to be a volunteer and through the service learned about mediation and again knew this was the kind of work I wanted to do.
2.What’s the best thing about your job?
The positive outcomes, with contacts at the centre and parents working together in mediation. Also something as simple as calling a parent to say that the contact is set up and they will see their child soon. Also helping children’s voices be heard by parents. Giving parents a sense that they aren’t always facing brick wall as so many feel when they come to us
3.Do you tend to see a difference in children after they’ve used the centre for a few visits?
Usually yes, when a child and just as importantly, parents have settled and become more comfortable in the environment and more accepting of the situation then it is a joy to see a child running in to see their parent. There are tough aspects of the job and this is the balance that makes it worthwhile.
4.Using a centre for the first time can be daunting. How do you make sure your centre is a welcoming place for parents and their kids?
I must mention the importance of Intake here as a lot of the preparation for both anxious parents and children is done then. The Going to a Child Contact Centre books and the videos online are invaluable as they help normalise the situation and give everyone something to focus on. The staff are very good at making the surroundings and the visits as calm and normal as they can. The staff, like myself have been with the service for a long time and are committed. The contacts are always child focused and when parents hear that they do feel reassured.
5. What’s your advice for parents thinking about using a child contact centre?
Give it a try and be as positive as you can be. It is a stepping stone and it’s important to de-stigmatise the CCC experience. People from all walks of life and backgrounds use CCCs. We, as a service can support parents through the sometimes difficult time and the service can support in future with mediation and groups etc. An all round support to help parents move forward while being involved with their child’s future,whether they be resident or non resident parent.