Outgoing chair of Bishop's Stortford's Portland Child Contact Centre says her role was a 'privilege'
A key figure in a Bishop's Stortford children's centre says seeing children reacquaint themselves with a separated parent is "simply the best".
After standing down from her role as chair of Portland Child Contact Centre, Angela Weeks said the most joyful thing was "watching children, who may not have seen a parent or grandparent for quite some time, rush into our meeting room and have a really big hug".
The group, based at The Hub Church, Portland Road, celebrated its 21st year at its annual general meeting on Saturday August 14) and welcomed 21 current and former volunteers.
The centre offers a safe, friendly and neutral place where children of separated families can spend time with one or both parents and sometimes other family members.
Barbara Eldridge spoke of the early days of the centre in 2000-01 and four members were given long service certificates and gifts.
Sarah Fahy was elected chair after Angela stepped down and four other management group positions were filled: Lynne Miller as deputy chair, Aniko King as treasurer, Jan Bisschoff as chaplain and mentor, and Diane Welsh to advise on governance and court-related matters.
Speaking of her joy at seeing families being reunited, Angela added: "Of course, it doesn’t always happen like that – it may take several visits for child and parent to get reacquainted – but that is simply the best.
"The second best is when we see families where parents haven't been able to talk to each other at the beginning of their sessions with us walk out of the centre together. Maybe the parents’ relationship cannot be 'mended', but at least they can talk to each other to help their child/ren know they're loved by both of them."
Angela added: "It's been a privilege to be a volunteer and now, as I hand over to Sarah, I pray the centre will to continue to serve the needs of our community."
New chair Sarah said: "I've been interested in work around families for a long time, keeping children’s needs in focus and supporting parents to develop and maintain good relationships with them, especially when these are challenged, for instance when families live apart.
"I've been able to do this throughout my career as a psychotherapist and counsellor and also, at an earlier stage, as a family mediator and mediation service and practice manager of the family mediation service in Harlow."
Sarah added: "I have three grown-up children and two young grandsons, all of whom are teaching me what it's like to be growing up in the 21st century and, in turn, what that means for parents and grandparents."