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Info for Parents

Quick Start Guide


  1. To find out more about contact, and to decide whether this might be appropriate for you, please read the What is a Contact Centre page.

  2. Contact centres come in two flavours: supported and supervised.  Our contact centre offers supported contact only.

  3. Detailed information on how to start using the contact centre is given on this page.

  4. The contact centre's rules are given on the Contact Centre Rules page.  Please familiarise yourself with them.  

  5. Withington Contact Centre is a NACCC accredited contact centre.  Our working policies may be found under the Policies and Procedures section of the website.

I have a solicitor. How do I start using the centre?


If you have a professional (solicitor, mediator, CAFCASS officer, etc) dealing with your case, please instruct them to complete our referral form and make a referral to us.  All the information they require is the Information for Referrers section of the website.

  1. Once the referral form has been received and processed, you will be placed on the waiting list.  Usually the expected waiting time is between 2 and 5 weeks, although it can vary quite a bit either way.

  2. During this time, the Centre Coordinator will contact you to arrange an interview, called a pre-contact visit.  We will show you around the centre, make sure all the information on the referral form is correct, and answer any questions you may have.  We will also go though the Contact Centre Rules - please have a look at them before the interview.  If you don't want to meet your ex-partner, arrangements will be discussed during the pre-contact visit.

  3. If a place has become available by the time of the pre-contact visit, the starting time will be discussed then.  Otherwise the Centre Coordinator will contact you as soon as a place becomes available, and a starting date for the contact will be fixed.

  4. Note that the centre reserves the right not to offer your family a place if it feels that the centre is not appropriate for your family.

How much will it cost?

There is no charge.

I don't have a solicitor. How do I start using the centre?


Families can only use the centre by being "referred" to it.  Traditionally, this was done by a professional such as a family solicitor, CAFCASS officer or similar.  Nowadays families can refer themselves.  Families who refer themselves are said to "self-refer" and these are called "self-referrals."  Families who wish to self-refer DO NOT NEED TO COMPLETE OUR REFERRAL FORM.  The section below outlines the self-referral process.

Self-referrals are only accepted from families where neither party is represented by a solicitor.  If you do not have a solicitor but your ex-partner does, then their solicitor must refer your family.


  1. If you wish to make a self-referral, the first step is to get agreement from the other party that contact can take place at the contact centre. The Withington Contact Centre cannot get this agreement on your behalf.  The page above gives some options for getting this agreement if you and the other party are not communicating

  2. Once both parties agree to use the centre, please email the Centre Coordinator and provide the following information:

    The Coordinator's email address is given on the Contact Us page. 

    1. Your name,  contact number and email

    2. Names and birthdays of all children involved in the contact

    3. Names, contact numbers and emails of all adults having contact with the children at the centre.  

  3. The Coordinator will contact you and the other parties involved in the contact, and will arrange for each to come to the centre for an interview.

  4. During the interview, we will gather information about you, the children and the background to what has happened.  We will also go though the Contact Centre Rules.   Please have a look at them beforehand.  Once all interviews have been completed, the centre will make a decision about whether it can offer your family a place.

  5. You will be informed in writing about the centre's decision.  If a place has been offered, it may be subject to some restrictions and may initially be limited to a certain number of sessions.  Full details of these will be given in the letter.

  6. If a place has been offered, you may be placed on the waiting list if the centre is currently full.  The expected waiting times vary, but are usually between 3 to 6 weeks.  Once a place has become available, we will contact you to fix the start date for the contact.

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