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Child contact centres in Croydon and Sutton to close in May

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TWO centres providing vital "safe havens" where children from broken families can meet their parents will close at the end of May.

The Welcare charity says cuts in funding and a reduction in the number of children being referred to it for support have made it impossible to keep its child contact services in Croydon and Sutton going.

Its services based in Mitcham Road, West Croydon, and Robin Hood Lane, Sutton, will stop operating on May 31.

Heather Brown, Welcare's contact service coordinator, said the decision would affect around 90 families and 170 children.

Welcare provides facilities where children whose parents are separated or divorced can meet with the parent with whom they are not living in safe and supervised conditions.

The service is considered to play a vital role in helping children to not become totally alienated from one of their parents.

Many of the parents locally involved with Welcare pay for the service but in recent years the charity has found it increasingly hard to raise money to remain on a sound financial footing.

The situation has been made worse this year by the withdrawal of £20,000 of funding from Sutton Council, which has decided to carry out its contact work in-house.

The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) has also reduced its funding by £10,000 and Croydon Council is cutting the number of children it refers to Welcare.

Ms Brown said: "We need £200,000 a year to pay staff and for the other operating costs.

"The trustees have looked closely at the finances and found that this year we would have been left with a deficit of £98,000.

"They have decided they just do not have the revenue to keep the service going."

Maria Oliphant, who uses the Croydon service, said it had been vital in enabling her child to keep in touch with her father.

She said: "It is important to me for my child to have that contact but now I am going to have to look for something else and there are very few facilities like this."


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