NACCC supports campaign for free relationship support to help parents locked in conflict #SortItOut

The NACCC team are proud to be supporting the #SortItOut campaign. We are acutely aware of the damage that parental conflict can have on children and the very ethos and existence of accredited child contact centres is to provide a safe place where parenting can continue away from the conflict.

The #SortItOut campaign calls for immediate action to reduce the damaging impact of parental conflict on an estimated 1.25 million children in Britain.

We are backing the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Supporting Couple Relationships and Reducing Interparental Conflict which is calling on the government to make relationship support free of charge to all parents in ongoing conflict.

Family relationships are consistently in the top three most common reasons why children contact ChildLine and campaigners want to highlight the damaging effect of warring parents on children’s mental health.

Research by the Department of Work and Pensions overwhelmingly demonstrates that exposure to frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict between parents has a long-lasting and negative effect on children’s mental health and development.

This research [1] states that how “couples communicate and engage with each other in managing relationship conflicts both affects their ability to engage in effective parenting practices and can influence children’s mental health outcomes in infancy, childhood, and adolescence, with extended impacts on academic/educational attainment, physical health and well-being, employability, and future relationship stability in later life”.[2]

#SortItOut has the support of a broad spectrum of organisations including Tavistock Relationships, Relate, The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Association of Child Psychotherapists. The Sun newspaper’s Agony Aunt, Deidre Sanders (Dear Deidre – also agony aunt for ITV’s This Morning programme) is also both backing the campaign.

The central objective of the campaign is to ensure relationships support is available – free of charge – to all parents in conflict. We are joining the campaign to call for the following:

  1. Parental conflict to be assessed for in child mental health services and other settings such as schools
  2. Local authorities, NHS services and courts to offer relationship support services to parents
  3. The government Reducing Parental Conflict Programme to be offered nationally

If you would like to help parents #SortItOut you can support the campaign by:

[1, 2] Harold G, Acquah D, Sellers R, and Chowdry H (2016) What works to enhance inter-parental relationships and improve outcomes for children? DWP ad hoc research report no. 32. London: DWP.

NACCC supports published amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill

The Domestic Abuse Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday 5th January 2021. NACCC’s Vice President the Baroness McIntosh of Pickering has sponsored an amendment to the Bill which calls for all child contact centres and organisations in England and Wales that offer facilities or services for child contact to be accredited, ensuring domestic abuse and safeguarding protections for children and families. Currently there is no requirement for oversight of or specific provisions for child contact centres and services for self-referred cases outside the court system. This raises concerns around safeguarding, the quality and consistency of standards and training, and the handling of domestic abuse and drug and alcohol cases.

Baroness McIntosh echoed the words of the former President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, who has said in NACCC’s written submission to the Bill that the strengthening of the regulatory framework and contact system could ensure that

every child can experience the same high level of care and safeguarding where circumstances have necessitated their involvement with the family justice system and Child Contact Centres or Services.

Sir James Munby, President of NACCC (June 2020)

She went on to say that “a more professional contact system and a stronger framework, ensuring the appropriate training and oversight of standards, could better manage the impacts of these issues on children, especially in domestic abuse situations. I hope fervently that the Government might support the thrust of these provisions, which we will propose in Committee.”

Baroness McIntosh’s speech during the second reading.

The published amendment (in Clause 55, Page 35, line 19) will now be considered at the committee stage of the Bill. It has been tabled by Baroness Finlay (cross bencher) and Baroness McIntosh (Con), Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) and Baroness Burt of Solihull (Lib Dem) are sponsoring the amendment. It reads as follows:


at end insert—“(d) ensure all Child Contact Centres and organisations that offer facilities or services for child contact are accredited, to ensure domestic abuse and safeguarding protections for children and families.”

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff’s amendment in Clause 55 (Unnumbered)