For the past twelve months I’ve shared Mary’s story and how her Community Circle has supported her to reconnect at church and be part of her parish community.  Over the months we’ve learned what good support for Mary looks like, spent time nurturing relationships and been intentional about inviting people into Mary’s life.  I’d really like to share our appreciation for the members of her parish who have become part of Mary’s circle.

It started with an email address…

The contact details for members of the SVP (St Vincent de Paul Society) were in the church’s newsletter, members of the church who visit people in the parish or offer help where needed.  I sent an email introducing myself and Community Circles.    A few emails later led to a face to face meeting where we chatted more about Community Circles and what we hoped to achieve for Mary.

Mary was regularly attending church and we were conscious to support Mary to meet people at the service.  Mary was also reconnecting with people at the Welcome Club.  People at the club remembered Mary and were very welcoming, supporting Mary to have extra time choosing her raffle prizes.

Members of the SVP began to visit Mary at home, spending time getting to know her and taking an interest in her life.  Prior to this the only people Mary had in her life were those that were paid to be with her and we know that however great that support is, quality often comes from natural relationships based on share interests.

It’s lovely to see that Mary now has people in her life, with the shared interest of their faith, people who come and spend time with her and who genuinely take an interest in her well being.  Mary’s visitors from church now come to her circle meetings too, taking an active role in sharing ideas of how we can support Mary well.

I really appreciate the time that people give to visiting Mary and even though Mary doesn’t use many words to speak, she is fully included in the conversations.  Her friends have used different ways to support conversation with Mary, sharing magazines and photos on an Ipad.  It’s a real pleasure seeing the connections Mary now has in her life.

Sometimes a circle can start small and often we have to be intentional about inviting people into someone’s life.  It’s great to open the door to new relationships.

“I think that Mary’s circle alone should persuade people of the power of a circle. I was so delighted to see her friends from church there this time. Her life looks so much fuller.”

Katherine Runswick-Cole, Senior Research Fellow in Disability Studies & Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University

Thank you to the SVP members at St Vincents for their contributions to Mary’s circle and making a difference.


Cath Barton

Community Circles Connector

Alternative Futures Group