Contact Centres play an integral part in assisting with contact between separated parents and their children and provide a safe and neutral environment where contact may take place. Contact Centres are used for a variety of reasons including alcohol and drug related problems, domestic violence and situations where the parents are just unable to reach an agreement as to how and when contact with their children can take place. The Centres will often assist with drop off arrangements and can arrange a ‘staggered’ drop off so the Centre staff are on hand to ensure the parents of the child do not necessarily have to see each other at the Centre which may be required in cases of domestic violence. The contact usually takes place at the Centre but occasionally parties will agree to the contact taking place outside of the Centre and the Centre is then used as a meeting point.
The Hertford Contact Centre was initially set up by Olive McCarthy, Director and Solicitor at Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd and Locum Lawyer, Nikki Cable in 2008. Miss McCarthy and Ms Cable applied for a National Lottery grant which was awarded and used to set up the Centre. Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd and its staff continue to support the Centre which has been registered with the National Association of Child Contact Centres. Referrals are usually made through a solicitor, the Court or a social worker.
The Centre offers non-resident parents the chance to arrange contact sessions with their children in sometimes volatile and difficult situations. Sessions are held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month and the Centre boasts a range of toys and games for use by the families. There is also an outside garden for use and a small shop where snacks and drinks can be purchased.
At Breeze and Wyles we are continuing to support the work of Hertford Contact centre and are able to offer advice and assistance on children cases and contact issues following the breakdown of a relationship or on divorce.
Lisa Honey is a family solicitor at Breeze and Wyles specialising in family law and deals with matters covering a range of issues including divorce and financial settlements, separation following the breakdown of a relationship, children matters and declarations of trust. Lisa is also an honorary solicitor providing advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Cheshunt.