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Community Circles

Lead service provider/commissioner


Community Circles

Type of knowledge

Type of knowledge:

Project description only

Prevention service description

The Community Circles concept has grown from circles of support models that were fostered in the North West in the 90’s, has been built upon person centred techniques. A Community Circle, in practice, starts with ‘a person a purpose’. The purpose itself can be anything that is important to the person such as meeting new people, problem solving or finding help and support. A person would refer themselves, as the process is driven by that person’s purpose, as such Community Circles do not accept 3rd party referrals but agencies can signpost.

Community Circles helps to identify people in that person’s life who can help and are happy to do so and each circle is matched up to a facilitator (based upon location, availability, shared interests). The first three meetings, supported by a Community Circles Connector, are very much about bringing people together, clarifying what the circle is, we spend time getting to know each other, and thinking about the different roles (i.e. The facilitator helps the conversation move to action, through person-centred practices), and expectations. In addition the early meetings focus upon collecting the details around the focus person and creating early actions and reflecting on action. Facilitators are asked to commit for 12 months but sometimes actions are achieved before then, after 12 months the connector goes back into the circle and see if they all want to carry on. The initiative is person centred in training and fits around people’s needs and lives, this has moved from face to face training to e-learning, phone and Zoom. Circles utilise and apply reflective thinking tools to keep circles on task and roles are reflexive, with people only taking on actions if they are willing to do so and in a way that makes sense to the person in focus. In addition the circles are supported by a Community Circles Connector who is employed and hosted by a partner organisation who recruits and trains voluntary Community Circles facilitators who are then able to facilitate each circle meeting and support each circle to achieve its individual purpose. The Community Circles Connectors are, in turn, supported by a Regional Connector, who supports 12 local connectors and facilitates six-weekly community practices for Connectors to come together to share learning and problem solve together, and this forms a regional network of peer support.

Intervention/service type:

Befriending, mentoring and peer support; Information and advice; Community services; Low-level support; Community capacity building

Target client group(s):

Older people; Adults with long-term health conditions; Adults with learning disabilities; Adults with mental health problems; Carers; Adults with physical disabilities; Vulnerable adults

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