Divorce and separation are really upsetting and challenging times for children, so we’re joining in with Family Mediation Week (21-25 January 2019) to raise awareness of mediation and its benefits for separating families.

Divorce and separation affects children in different ways but emotional and behavioural problems are more common when their parents are fighting or separating.

Children North East are here to support families through this difficult time with our Contact Centre service, and Families & Parenting Service Manager Tracey Welsh talks us through how this works.

“Children do best when they have good relationships with both parents. In 2017-2018 our Contact Centre helped 104 children from 70 families to continue contact with a parent after they had left the home due to a separation.

We became an enhanced accredited contact centre in March 2016. We pride ourselves on providing a flexible service for non-resident parents to build and strengthen their relationship with their children in a relaxed, neutral and safe environment.  

Positive experience

The service has developed extremely well over the years, we not only provide a service here at the centre but also support and supervise contact in the community.

We are led primarily by the children going at their pace to ensure the contact is a positive experience.

We work, where necessary with children prior to the contact commencing, this provides us with the opportunity to listen to their wishes and feelings ensuring that we acknowledge them at all times.

Life story work

It also is beneficial in situations where contact between the non-resident parent and the child has not taken place for some time. It creates an opportunity to reintroduce the non-resident parent using photos and sharing stories about them, we call this Life Story Work.  

Preparation is key, therefore a visit with the children to the contact centre before the first contact session is offered, this allows an opportunity to have a tour of the contact rooms and meet the contact officer.

The majority of the families we have supported in the contact centre have achieved positive outcomes.  The contact has progressed into the community, and as a result the services provided by Children North East are no longer required as the parents are able to negotiate their own plans for contact.

Life changing

As you can see from the words of this nine-year-old boy, the service we provide can be life changing:

If the Contact Centre didn’t help I might not have been able to see my Daddy. Mammy and Daddy might have continued to argue and I would be stuck in the middle. Whilst I love my Mummy, I also love my Daddy and without the centre, I might not have been able to play with them both.

Further help and information

For more information on accessing our services visit: https://www.children-ne.org.uk/divorce-and-

Family Mediation Week have got some brilliant resources like special divorce journals for children and guides on how to speak to children about splitting up. http://www.familymediationweek.org.uk/resources/

There's also this simple graphic explainer of what exactly mediation is:

As part of the week itself Family Mediation North East are also offering free half-hour consultations in Ashington for people to find out if mediation can help them. Find out more here: https://www.familymediation-northeast.com/

Support us!

We need your help to continue being able to support children and families going through divorce and separation in the North East - please consider making a donation.

Please select a donation amount: *
Set up a regular payment Donate