Connecting with others is a common goal for people who start a Community Circle. Where there’s the right opportunity, the Community Circles Connector can also share ideas and experiences that have worked in other peoples’ circles, and connect people from one circle with those in another. In this way, the ripples of a person’s circle are able to reach far and wide.
Dawn is friendly and really good company. She has a great sense of humour, loves a joke and has a contagious laugh. Dawn has a learning disability, and the purpose of her circle is to support her to find things she wants to do and make new friends.
The first meeting of Dawn’s circle took place in early spring at her house. Dawn, Dawn’s mum, a friend from college and a member of Dawn’s support staff all came along, as did Cath, the Community Circles Connector and Gemma, Dawn’s Community Circles facilitator. Dawn had already met Gemma, and Cath introduced her to the rest of the circle. Together, over tea and biscuits, they completed the purpose poster and decided upon the roles and rules of Dawn’s circle.
New people, new things to do
The purpose of Dawn’s circle is to help her to make new friends and find new things to do, and she was particularly interested in volunteering. Dawn already had previous experience of working on a bookstall and said that this was something she enjoyed, and Cath told her of a local church that runs a coffee morning and bookstall on Tuesdays. Cath offered to introduce Dawn to the people at the church, and Dawn agreed that this would be a good idea.
As a result of Dawn attending the coffee morning, she is now volunteering on the bookstall. Dawn helps to organise and sell the books, and is made to feel very welcome at the church by the other volunteers. She has quickly become very popular with everyone.
Connecting with other circles
One of the other things discussed at the first circle meeting was cooking and healthy eating. Gemma, the circle facilitator works for the local Healthy Weight Team and was able to share with details of Slim Possible classes with Dawn. Cath also shared some low fat recipes with Dawn, and they cooked a healthy meal together.
Dawn really enjoyed cooking, and at the next circle meeting the circle chatted about how she could do more and perhaps invite someone else for over for tea. Dawn didn’t feel that she knew anyone well enough to invite over, so one of the ideas at the circle meeting was to ask other people that Community Circles supported locally if they wanted to get involved in a Come Dine With Me event. Several people said they would like to get involved, and were then matched up and invited to each other’s houses for dinner. In this way, the ripples from Dawn’s circle were able to reach far and wide!
Dawn’s circle grows
When the circle began, the people in Dawn’s life were her family, people who are paid to support her and the person she lives with. Four months along, Dawn had made friends with people from her church, and now a friend she recently met at college has become part of her circle too.
The purpose of Dawn’s circle was to find things to do, find new volunteering opportunities and develop friendships. At the first meeting, Dawn felt that she was a long way from achieving these goals. After a few months with her circle, as a result of her involvement with the church, she told us that she was much closer to achieving the purpose that the circle had been set up to achieve. We also saw a significant reduction in Dawn’s feelings of loneliness, and a large improvement in her wellbeing levels. Dawn says that it ‘feels good’ to be mixing with other people, and this resulted in positive outcomes in her life.
“Dawn’s circle is not only supporting Dawn but the wider community, through the contributions she makes at the bookstall and ideas that are shared widely for other people to get involved with.”
Cath, Community Circles Connector