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Info for Referrers

Professionals (CAFCASS, family solicitors, social workers, etc) are welcome to make referrals to the centre.  If you are a parent and wish to refer yourself to the centre, please go to the Information for Parents page.

Supported vs Supervised

Withington Contact Centre offers supported contact only.  Please see the Supported vs Supervised page for the difference between the two.

Is there a waiting list?

Yes there is.  The expected waiting time is usually between 2 and 5 weeks, although it can vary quite a bit.

Referral procedure


  1. You are notified of our full list of policies and procedures available on this website

  2. Download the referral form below.

  3. Read through the referral guidelines to the right.

  4. Complete the form as fully as possible.  Please try to write legibly.  If different professionals are involved in arranging the contact (e.g. different solicitors for the resident and non-resident parent), then BOTH parties should see the completed referral form before it is sent in.

  5. Ensure both parents' personal contact details are given.  Referrals with missing contact details will NOT be processed!

  6. Send the completed referral form to the contact centre office - the address is given here as well as on the referral form.  To speed up the process, the completed form can also be scanned and emailed through - the email address is given here as well as on the referral form.  If a scan is emailed, the paper original must still be posted to the centre.

  7. Please direct the resident and non-resident parents to our website

  8. Once the referral form is received and processed, the family will be added to our waiting list (if there is one).

  9. During this time, we will contact the family directly to arrange pre-contact visits during which the contact arrangements will be discussed and the information on the referral form will be checked.

  10. Once both parties (resident and non-resident parent) have completed their pre-contact visits, and a place has become available, the contact will start.

What information is needed?
  1. A completed referral form. 

  2. Copies of any court orders for contact.  These must be sent through as soon as they are received.  Scanned copies are fine.

  3. Copies of any court orders relevant to the contact, which are still in force (e.g. prohibited steps orders, etc).  Scanned copies are fine.

How much will it cost?

There is no charge.

Contact Referral Form

Guidelines for Referrers


Note that the Withington Contact Centre offers supported contact only.  Supported contact is suitable for families when no significant risk to the child or those around the child has been identified.  The basic elements of supported contact are:

  • Impartiality

  • Volunteers are available for assistance but there is no close observation, monitoring or evaluation of individual contacts/conversations. 

  • Encouragement for families to develop mutual trust and consider more satisfactory family venues. 

  • Apart from attendance dates and times, no detailed report will be made to a referrer, CAFCASS, a party’s solicitor or Court, unless there is a risk of harm to the child, parent or Centre worker. 

  • An acknowledgement that it be viewed as a temporary arrangement to be reviewed after an agreed period of time.


  1. The centre operates a waiting list.  Once a referral has been received and processed, it will be added to the waiting list.  The family will be contacted directly thereafter to arrange pre-contact visits and start times for the contact once a place has become available.

  2. Only people named on the referral form will be allowed onto the premises.  This may be varied by written agreement by both parties.

  3. Parents are responsible for their children at all times whilst they are at the contact centre.

  4. Please ensure that both parents have read and understood the following sections on this website:

    1. Contact Centre Rules

    2. What is a Contact Centre

  5. Please notify the parents of our list of policies and procedures.

  6. To try and maintain a friendly, impartial and confidential environment, we would request that you do not at any time ask to see your clients on our premises without prior agreement.

  7. Only dates and times of a family’s attendance will be disclosed unless it is felt that anyone using the centre or a volunteer is at risk of harm. In the unlikely event of it becoming necessary to quote a Co-ordinator / Team Leader in any report due to someone (a centre user or volunteer) being at risk of harm, the form of words used should be checked and agreed with the person being quoted beforehand.

  8. Supported contact centres will not knowingly accept a referral when somebody involved has been convicted of any offence relating to a) physical or b) sexual abuse of any child, unless there are exceptional circumstances and they have sought appropriate professional advice.

  9. Supported contact centres will not accept referrals for families where there are currently active police investigations

  10. The contact centre reserves the right to reduce or terminate contact if it is felt to be in the best interest of the child.

  11. Referrers should make arrangements for the provision of an interpreter where English is not the first language of the family involved and problems may arise with communication.

  12. The centre should be viewed as a temporary facility to help establish contact. The contact centre will review the family’s progress at least every six months, and it may ask for your assistance in this regard.

  13. Please notify the Co-ordinator if the arrangements for contact are going to change or if contact is going to cease.  Contact details are available here.

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