Towards a European Network With the European Handbook on how to set up Circles having been produced last year, our colleagues in the Netherlands and Belgium have been working on a fresh application, with Circles UK’s involvement and support. The real prospect of new national Circles programmes in Catalonia, Latvia and Bulgaria mean a European network is needed even more to ensure European-wide standards and practices can be set, to the benefit of all. Some other European states (Sweden, Estonia, and France) are also expressing interest. If EC funding is secured a two year programme will be run, creating a European Network for supporting new Circles schemes in other member countries and providing research opportunities across participating European states. Such a momentum cannot be other than in all our interests as we seek to present Circles, no more as mere optional extras, but rather an increasingly indispensable community-based service in the prevention of reoffending and creating more caring and responsible communities.
Pictured: Prospective Circles Coordinators are trained in Catalonia
There has been much discussion over the past year as to whether COSA could be used effectively with young people. Aware of the desire among some Circle Projects to engage in such work, Circles UK facilitated some initial discussions involving Circles South East and Circles Northumbria, the NSPCC and SWAAY to look at the feasibility of adapting the Circles model for use with young people. The content of those discussions focused upon the important issues and questions raised in adapting the model for this particular user group. Should the model be based upon Circles or a more one to one mentoring style? Or would a combination of both be more appropriate? Would the Circles UK Code of Practice be sufficient to cover such work, and how would the volunteer training differ from that of Circles generally?
The imminent addition of Respond as a full member of Circles UK has therefore been met with much excitement and enthusiasm by all involved in the development of this particular area of work. Respond is a national charity working with young people who have a learning disability. Their knowledge base and engagement in Circles work will be of great benefit in answering the above questions while helping both Circles UK and local projects to develop a service for young people based upon the principles of best practice. Circles UK would like to officially welcome Respond to the World of Circles of Support and Accountability.