It’s a sad fact that relationships can break down causing families to separate and that in a lot of cases the separation is less than amicable.
Did you know, however, that there is a safe, friendly, neutral place locally where children of separated families can spend time with one or both parents?
Without such centres as provided by Ballymena Area Child Contact Service (BACCS), many children would not see their absent parent at all and could miss out on the value that this undoubtedly brings to their lives.
A local charity, BACCS has centres in Antrim, Larne and in Ballymena where High Kirk Church is the venue on Saturday mornings from 10am-12noon.
The centres are open to all and each is a child centred environment that puts the needs of children first.
“We aim to create a warm, comfortable atmosphere where parents and children can relax. We provide a wide range of toys and games for all ages and refreshments are on hand,” BACCS spokesman Bill Sheridan said.
The centres are run by a co-ordinator and trained, impartial volunteers more of whom are currently urgently needed for the Ballymena Centre which has been running for the past 10 years.
Bill explained: “We have 40 volunteers for the three centres, 20 of whom are based in Ballymena. They give up their time to us for a few hours every month and we simply could not operate the centres without them.
“We currently need more and full training will be given,” he added.
The role of a BACCS volunteer is to prepare the centre prior to opening by setting out toys and equipment and, during the session, to provide support to the parents and offer refreshments.
Bill pointed out that some of the children may not have seen the parent for some time.
“The Centre and the volunteers provide an environment where they can start building a bond together and also build trust between both parents to a stage where contact can continue outside the Centre,” he said.
If you think you could contribute to that process in a voluntary role and are aged 18-65, call 07849498494 or email firstname.lastname@example.org