Circles of Support
A Circle of Support is a group of people who have been invited to form relationships with a person who is perhaps isolated or marginalised from their community because of their disability.
Usually the people who are invited already have a connection with the person at the centre of the circle. It is important to make each person’s role valued and to be within the parameters of what they feel they can offer.
The process is intentional and evaluated often to ensure that everyone is working within the dreams and goals of the person at the centre of the circle and that each member is comfortable with their role.
The person at the centre of the circle benefits in many ways, from simply having more people in their lives, having their dreams and goals being acted upon, being connected to and having a real role in their community, feeling empowered to achieve what was never thought possible and developing a real sense of who they are.
We have also found that the people doing the supporting are benefited by these new relationships. They too feel valued and have a real sense of belonging to something important and powerful.
A Circle is also designed to take some of the “load” off the immediate family who have usually been a bastion of support for many years. With other people in their loved one’s life the family can once more just be mum, dad, brother, sister etc.
The Circle of Support Coordinator will work closely with the family to establish what they want and need to happen, get to know the person who the circle will form around and begin to identify that person’s dreams and goals. Then, the coordinator will work to identify the people to invite into the Circle. It is important for families to know that they do not have to do the asking, a task which for those closest to the disabled person is often daunting.
Once the Circle is formed then the coordinator will work with the group to establish how the Circle will operate. As the Circle becomes fully functional the coordinators role will then be to help with ongoing evaluation, troubleshooting and goal setting.
We are able to support families and individuals to get their circles started as we have experienced in training other facilitators and also have our own circles of support for our children for a number of years.