Contact centres and the family courts
Recent media reports have highlighted the plight of children in families that have separated due to domestic violence. Very often the courts grant the abusive partners unsupervised access to the children, and there is mounting evidence that this could be putting many children at risk.
Unfortunately, courts often have limited options. Who's going to supervise the contact between parent and child? Family or friends on either side are often unwilling or are mistrusted. Professionals are expensive: who's going to pay? Austerity has had a massive impact on funding.
While the media has highlighted domestic violence, the same questions arise in many separations where there wasn't domestic violence, but where parents don't trust each other.
Where can they go for impartial and safe supervision of contact?
The Withington Child Contact Centre is one such place. We're part of a network of contact centres across the country. But this network has contracted sharply in recent years. In 2012 there were roughly 15 child contact centres serving the Greater Manchester area, while today there are roughly 3. Cuts in funding the Covid pandemic were major factors in most closures. Waiting times at centres have increased markedly.
Help keep your contact centre open
Withington Contact Centre is a completely volunteer run centre which offers a FREE service: free to families, free to the courts, free to local authorities, free to everyone. We don't charge anyone any money. Instead we rely on volunteers who offer up one Saturday afternoon every 6 weeks.
However our volunteer numbers have fallen low in recent months, and the future of the centre is at risk. We urgently need volunteers to help us to continue supporting families.
What can we offer you:
1. Training in all aspects of being a volunteer
2. Mentoring and support from team leaders
3. A chance to help your local community
What do we need from you:
1. Time: one Saturday from 1.30pm to 5pm every six weeks
2. Commitment: the centre must have 4 volunteers to open. If you can no longer make an agreed date, you must let us know in good time so we can try find a substitute.
If you feel you are able to help us with this work, then please email us at
Volunteering may not seem like a big thing, but your help will mean the difference between relationships existing, or not existing, and that is an impact which stretches into the future for many many years ...