Delivering circles of support and accountability to protect communities from sexual harm and sexual reoffending


Coronavirus (Covid-19) Action Plan, phase 2 – with effect from 16th April 2020

In accordance with Government guidance, Circles South West’s initial 30 day action plan applied the principles of social distancing across all aspects of our work i.e. avoiding non-essential contact with other people and avoiding unnecessary travel; the health and well-being of our service users, volunteers and staff was paramount whilst retaining a practical commitment to alternative, creative service provision. Mindful that the restrictions will exacerbate feelings of social isolation and loneliness already experienced by core members, we committed to provide a virtual service where at all possible, thereby also continuing to provide an additional layer of risk management.

Action plan extension and interim changes to personnel

Since our previous communication, restrictions have significantly tightened. We do not yet know how long the UK will remain in ‘lockdown’. Our previous action plan will be extended, therefore, for another 30 days until 16th May, albeit with some changes in personnel.

It is with much regret that we have made the decision to furlough some staff with effect from 18th April. Specifically, all staff will be furloughed with the exception of the CEO (Jo Burden) and Operations Manager (Pauline Rousseau). Pauline will manage all operations, including coordinating virtual Circles, as an interim arrangement. The decision to furlough the majority of our staff has not been easy. However, we are confident that this action will ensure that Circles South West (a) provides service continuation during the current restrictions and (b) has the best possible chance of surviving the current challenges with the outcome being relatively good organisational health when circumstances allow us to return to full capacity.

We will be in touch individually with all funders and commissioners about the impact of our current action plan on agreed outcomes and performance indicators.

Interim ‘Coordinator’ contact details (for operations)

For all communications that would usually be directed to Circle Coordinators, please email us at This generic email address will being frequently monitored by the skeleton staff team and is being used for ease of access in case of staff sickness, annual leave requiring cover and possible changes in personnel furloughed.

PHASE 2 Action Plan to 16th May 2020

Existing Circles of Support & Accountability: Face-to-face (direct) Circle meetings are suspended. Where possible Circle meetings are instead be held virtually via teleconferencing, video-calling, Zoom. Where this is not possible we are providing telephone contact. We continue to share relevant intelligence with statutory agencies.

New Circles of Support & Accountability: from April we have postponed new starts to such time that current restrictions are relaxed.

Referrals for new Circles of Support & Accountability: New referrals are welcomed at this time as we can begin the assessment process remotely.

Volunteer supervision and support, staying in touch: We continue to provide support and supervision to all ‘active’ volunteers via telephone, email and/or video-conferencing. All volunteers are being invited to join a monthly Zoom meeting, an additional method of keeping them in touch and updated with organisational developments.

Group-work and 1:1 intervention programmes: All group-work and 1:1 intervention programmes are postponed until current restrictions are relaxed.

Internal volunteer training: all events are postponed until current restrictions are relaxed.

External training and consultancy: All events are postponed until current restrictions are relaxed.

Staff: Remaining skeleton staff are required to work at home and to avoid face-to-face (direct) contact with others until current restrictions are relaxed. They can be contacted via telephone, email and video calling/conferencing.

Governance: Our Board of Trustees continues with frequent (virtual) meetings to review interim arrangements and oversee the charity’s response to the current crisis.

Communications: This action plan is being communicated with all stakeholders including volunteers, core members, other service users, purchasers, commissioners and funders, referrers and partners.

We thank you sincerely for your ongoing support for our work at this challenging time and hope that you and yours stay as well as possible. Staff and Trustees of Circles South West

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