We often describe a circle of support as a space of love and listening, bringing people together around a person to see what we can do that makes a difference, a space where issues can be raised and ideas shared, where everyone can contribute.
Community Circles has flexed and adapted over the last ten years based on our learning and listening well to people. Our purpose is to create opportunities for people to come together and help each other have better and more connected lives and this starts with one person, one conversation and exploring where this takes us; whether this is an individual circle of support, helping people do more of what matters to them, connecting people around shared interests or creating opportunities for people to share their gifts and talents.
Relationships are at the heart of all we do.
It was with great delight I was able to join a call hosted by colleagues in New Zealand to share our international learning about Circles, together with friends from Canada, Chile and Australia. The purpose of our call is to come together, to share successes, learning and challenges and spend time in our own circle of love and listening.
We are all at different stages of our Circle journeys; ten years of developing Circles, flexing and adapting the model around the person, developing sustainable circles of support and coaching people to lead their own Circles, using the Circles Connected model to connect people around shared interests and having first conversations about the change they want to see in their lives and how Circles can help. As international colleagues what unites us is the common vision of the difference Circles can make and our commitment to making this happen.
Here are some reflections from our international hosts, Carol and Andrea from Options in New Zealand;
“Our international calls contribute to the sense of whanaungatanga relationships and connections and using the Circles principles we are able to collectively share and deepen our knowledge and learning through these calls, we get so much inspiration from coming together”
Here are some of the threads of our conversations;
• The power of presence; being alongside each other to listen well together and how are relationships thrive when we show up for each other
• The ability of a Circle to flex and adapt; there are core themes of a Circle with the ability to flex and adapt around the person based on what matters to them, see Cath’s blog here for further information https://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/Blog/Personalisation-and-co-production-in-traditional-services/
• Exploring the range of Circles to develop our learning including: individual circles in schools, problem solving circles for adults, Community Circles for larger groups, micro-boards, restorative justice circles, circles of interest and The Two Hour Club
• The vulnerability in a Circle to acknowledge we don’t always have the answers and just sit in the mud together, to generate some ideas for a next step. Circles help to cultivate a space where ideas can be explored
• The even greater importance of people being connected to others at this time of Covid. During restrictions Circles have continued to support people, exploring what’s possible and practical to maintain relationships
• The dignity and right for people to make their own decisions
• The potential that a Circle can bring more information for the person to weigh up and build up their confidence to speak their own mind. Virginia shares of her Circle, “I used to be very shy but my Circle has helped me become more confident and now I run my own Circle”
• The splashes and ripples a circle can generate for growth and change. Circles start with one person, one conversation with potential for deepening and growing relationships and positive change
• The intangible richness of the Circle becoming more than its original purpose – reciprocity for all involved.
He waka eke noho – we are all on this journey together
If you want to know more about Community Circles and join us on our journey, contact Cath firstname.lastname@example.org