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Axe-threatened Solihull Child Contact Centre in 'use us' appeal

Client numbers have plunged at the Solihull Child Contact Centre in New Road, sparking fears for its future.

Solihull Child Contact Centre, which is under threat.
Solihull Child Contact Centre, which is under threat.

A facility which gives children from broken homes the chance to have contact with their parents is facing closure.

Client numbers have plunged at the Solihull Child Contact Centre in New Road, sparking fears for its future.

It has been running in the borough for 20 years but more than 40 similar centres across the country have been axed due to falling numbers.

The centre, run entirely by volunteers, provides a neutral setting where children from broken relationships can meet with parents or other close relations.

Co-ordinator Anne Ryder warned it would close if footfall did not improve.

“The problem is simply that a lot of people do not know about the service,” she said.

“Since the courts stopped offering legal aid, apart from in very exceptional circumstances, people are not being referred by solicitors and they don’t know we are here.

“We do not charge for our service and people can self-refer, which they don’t realise.

The centre was set up by volunteers, some of whom maintain their links with the site today.

The service receives some funding from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service with the rest coming from charity donations.

“We offer a vital service and a lot of parents would be lost without us,” Anne said.

“We are a vital stepping stone to allowing parents to have regular contact with their children.

“Without this service, they would not be able to progress into having more regular contact with the child.

“Consequently the parent is then denied any access.

“It is not just fathers, we have mothers in that situation or even grandparents.

“We just need to let people know that we are here. If it is not used, the facility will be lost forever.”

The National Association for Child Contact Centres (NACCC) has this week launched a drive to raise awareness of child contact centres, in partnership with charities, schools, GPs, social services and other community groups.

It aims to inform parents and their family members of the services.

 

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