Vicky Meets… Becca Dickenson, Coordinator, Chichester Contact Centre

Becca Dickenson, Coordinator, Chichester Contact CentreBecca Dickenson, Coordinator, Chichester Contact Centre
Becca Dickenson, Coordinator, Chichester Contact Centre
Vicky Meets… Becca Dickenson, Coordinator, Chichester Contact Centre

In a two-part Vicky Meets, Becca tells Vicky why Chichester’s Contact Centre, based at Christ Church in Old Market Avenue, is such a vital resource.

What is a Contact Centre and how does it help children?

The Chichester Contact Centre offers a neutral, safe and friendly environment for non-resident parents and family members to have contact with children. This is often because of a relationship breakdown, where trust between the two parents needs to be rebuilt. We facilitate contact between the non-resident parent and child/children. It is heartening that even when parents can’t get along, they still want to ensure that their children to have a relationship with both parents. The early years are really important for children when it comes to establishing relationships. We are here to help and to support, but it is all about the child; the child is at the heart of what we do.

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We run two groups every other Saturday. Some parents from as far away as the West Country. Their child might live in this area, but the non-resident parent might not. Some parents may not be able to come into contact with one another, so we have a system in place whereby they each come to different entrances. But still they come – some travel for many hours just to spend just one hour with their child. That fills you with hope. And one day the child will know what effort their parent went to.

We are passionate about maintaining relationships. The aim is to use our centre as a stepping stone and move off, but some families might need to come back for a while, whichis absolutely fine.

How do people come to you?

People can self-refer, or sometimes it is via a Court Order or at the suggestion of a professional like a social worker.

Grandparents often have an important part to play. Children might be living with them, or they might visit them through the Centre.

What is your role and what does it entail?

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I am the Contact co-ordinator for the charity. It is a challenging role, but I love it. I am usually online late on a Friday night putting together the registers for the next day, liaising with parents and making sure that everything is ready. Then I am here from 8am on the Saturday.

I hear that Santa pays an annual visit?

At our Christmas party Santa comes with a present for every child. Not every parent will see their child open a present on Christmas day. It’s lovely to give them that opportunity.

How can we help?

As well as volunteers and funds, we love to visit groups to tell them about our work. To book a talk, enquire about volunteering or to offer to fundraise or make a donation, please

get in touch. Find out more at www.chichesterchildcontactcentre.org

How do we find out about volunteering for you?

Read next week’s Vicky Meets or drop me an email via the website.