Who are we?
Freshwaters Contact Centre (FCC) is a registered charity in the U.K. (Charity registration number 1056130) originally established by Freshwaters Christian Fellowship in October, 1994. The Contact Centre is now run in association with churches from across Harlow from where most of the Volunteers and Management Committee are drawn.
Our primary focus is to provide a neutral, safe environment to enable contact between children and their non-resident family member/s. We have been doing this successfully since we started in 1994 and have seen thousands of children establish or re-establish those vital relationships.
What do we do?
We provide a safe neutral meeting place where children can meet with parents, grandparents or siblings that they have been separated from because of family breakdown. We operate one session a week on a Saturday morning, providing Supported Contact, which is defined as: –
- Offering low vigilance support
- There will be several families at a time in the rooms
- The volunteers and staff keep a watchful eye (in each room and particularly at the reception and main entrances/exits)
- Conversations are not monitored
- As a general rule no reports are made except dates of attendance
We also offer a space for ‘handovers’ – where children are ‘handed over’ at the centre but the non-residents parent/grandparent are able to take the child/ren out of the centre and either hand back at the centre at the end of the session – or hand back to the resident parent in the community.
Families stay with us for as long as they need us. We often find that, after a few months with us, the parents feel able to arrange handovers outside the centre, and so move on from us. We are always pleased when this happens.
For a typical example of progression of a family through Freshwaters Contact Centre take a look at FCC Pathways
To see some examples of how Freshwaters Contact Centre can help at the different stages of divorce or separation take a look at FCC Gateways
Whom do we seek to help?
We assist children and parents, grandparents and siblings who are separated because of relationship breakdown and have no other viable way of meeting together to maintain and develop their relationship.
Families are referred to the Centre for a number of different reasons, including: –
- Where concern has been expressed about the visiting parent’s ability to care for a child during contact.
- When non-resident parent and child have not met for some time and uncertainty exists as to successful re-establishment of contact.
- Where there is a need for trained volunteers on hand to provide assistance and reassurance to both children and parents.
- Where the commitment of parents to the contact concept may be established.
- Where a child lives with foster parents and a neutral venue for contact is required.
- Where the contact parent has nowhere suitable to take the child.
- Where parents cannot meet without friction – a Centre can ensure that they do not meet and can regulate the introduction of third parties to the contact arrangements.
FCC operates in accordance with Christian values and we consider prayer to be a vital part of ensuring that we are able to offer the best service possible to all of our clients whatever faith or background they come from.
Most of our Volunteers are motivated by their Christian faith and will be happy to talk to you about this if asked. We would also be happy to pray with you, just ask one of our staff or volunteers or submit a prayer request by email, or through our website.
FCC began when Freshwaters Christian Fellowship asked the question ‘how else can we help’ (they had been providing a Christmas lunch to residents of Harlow women’s refuge for 3 years). We would like to ask you the same question, ‘how else can we help?’ – whether it is to do with debt, addiction, parenting, relationships or many other areas, we will help refer you to those who can help and in whom we have confidence.
Heart 4 Harlow
FCC has volunteers from many churches in Harlow and is delighted to have the support of Heart 4 Harlow which seeks to build links between the church and the wider community in Harlow. They help us with prayer support, recruitment of volunteers and promotion of our services.
Freshwaters Contact Centre is an accredited member of the National Association of Child Contact Centre’s (NACCC) which is the supporting membership body for over 350 Child Contact Centre’s in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. NACCC provides us with professional advice and guidance with training and other materials. They also carry out regular inspections of our policies and procedures as part of our accreditation
The legal responsibility for Freshwaters Contact Centre lies with the Management Committee who are responsible for issuing the policies, procedures and rules for the Centre.
Members of the Management Committee are all Volunteers and are drawn from a range of backgrounds and bring different skills to their role. The Administrator and Team Leader attend Management Committee Meetings but do not have voting rights.
We employ a part time Administrator based in our office who handles telephone calls and all correspondence.
The role of the Team Leader is to ensure each Saturday contact session is safe for all parties as well as a happy time for the children.
The Team Leader will be present at nearly every contact session throughout the year and will be keen to build a good working relationship with all the family to facilitate smooth contact each Saturday.
The Team Leader facilitates three volunteer training sessions per year according to NACCC accredited training modules.
As well as the Team Leader there are a team of Volunteers who will help facilitate contact and ensure that the environment is as safe, welcoming and fun as possible. We are always looking for new volunteers and if you are interested in knowing more click here.
All of our volunteers and staff have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and receive regular training in Safeguarding.
Rules and Procedures
Our policies and procedures can be provided on request and are available to view at the Centre on a Saturday morning. The Administrator, Team Leader and volunteers are responsible for implementing the policies, procedures and rules agreed by the Management Committee. If you have any concerns about any of these then it would be best to put these in writing to the Chair of Freshwaters Management Committee.
As mentioned earlier Freshwaters is a charity and primarily relies upon gifts from trusts, churches and individuals. We work hard to try and avoid the need to make charges for our service so that we do not disadvantage those who are unable to afford to pay. However there are considerable costs involved in running the Centre and if you would like to contribute to meeting these costs then this is possible by either clicking here or writing a cheque payable to Freshwaters Contact Centre and either sending this to the office or handing to the Team Leader on a Saturday morning. Please do not hand cash to any of our staff or Volunteers.