A new contact centre offering support for children and their estranged families is set to open on a Bradford estate.

The facility, based at the Buttershaw Christian Family Centre, will allow separated parents a chance to meet their children in neutral surroundings.

The vital service is being set up by centre worker Margaret Brice and is being funded by local churches, Bradford Council and the BBC's Children in Need Appeal.

When it opens this summer it will be only the second project of its kind in Bradford. Although it will be based in Buttershaw, organisers say it will benefit families living across the city.

Mrs Brice said: "The aim is to offer a warm, safe place so that children can make contact with their estranged parents. A lot of these centres have to be built from scratch, but in the existing family centre we already have the perfect base.

"We will have enough room to cope with five families per session and there will be plenty of toys to make it exciting for the children.

"This project has been on the drawing board for almost seven years, but we just haven't been able to get the funding together. Now it is finally going to happen and we are absolutely delighted."

The only other contact centre currently serving people in Bradford was set up by the Council for Voluntary Services in 1995.

Mrs Brice added: "The CVS has been wonderfully supportive and has offered to train our volunteers. The main skill they need is to be able to listen, but they might be doing jobs such as registering new families or making refreshments."

Families will be referred to the Buttershaw Contact Centre from a variety of sources, including solicitors, court welfare workers and social workers.

It will open on alternate Saturday mornings and will be run by one paid member of staff and a team of around eight volunteers.

It will cost around £5,000 a year to run. Half of that total will be met by a grant from the BBC's Children in Need Appeal. St Aidan's and St Michael's C of E, Buttershaw Methodist Church, Buttershaw Christian Family Centre and Bradford Council will also be chipping in.

Organisers hope to have the centre up and running within the next three months.

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