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


Covid-19 Action Plan (Phase 3), from 16th May

This briefing provides an update with effect from 16th May.

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. In drawing up that action plan, the health and well-being of our service users, volunteers and staff were paramount whilst retaining a practical commitment to alternative, creative service provision.

Our second action plan (from 16th April) set out our response to the lockdown restrictions, including furloughing 7 of our 9 staff. This decision was made to ensure that we could continue to provide a virtual service wherever possible, whilst giving the charity has the best possible chance of surviving the current challenges and being in relative good health when circumstances allow us to return to full capacity. We have drawn on the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support this strategy.

Mindful that the restrictions will exacerbate feelings of social isolation and loneliness already experienced by core members, since mid-March we have committed to provide a virtual service where at all possible, thereby also continuing to provide an additional layer of risk management.

Interim action plan extension

Although there are some indications that restrictions will now gradually be relaxed, we are not yet in a position to implement Circles South West’s lockdown exit strategy. We are working on alternative models of operation that adhere to social distancing rules. We envisage that, when restrictions allow, such models will run alongside the current ‘Virtual Circles’ which will continue where there are concerns about individual Circle member, staff and/or partners vulnerabilities.

Our previous action plan will be extended for another 30 days until 16th June. Our CEO (Jo Burden) and Operations Manager (Pauline Rousseau) remain at work, with Pauline coordinating all virtual Circles as an interim arrangement.

We are communicating 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 is 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 3 Action Plan to 16th June 2020

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

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

Referrals for new Circles of Support & Accountability: New referrals are welcome 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 welcome join our 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 are contactable 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: Our action plans are communicated regularly 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

Our Funders