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

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Circles South West is constantly expanding our services. Here is what we currently offer outside of our core work.

ReBoot Circles Pilot:

We are excited to be working in collaboration with Circles UK, Professor Derek Perkins and Dr Hannah Merdian (onlinePROTECT)of Lincoln University to develop a programme aimed specifically at those who have been convicted of accessing Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM) via the internet. Offending of this type is increasing exponentially and, as many of those convicted remain in the community on shorter sentences, this may limit opportunities to participate in National Probation Service programme interventions.

Following the tried and tested principles of standard community Circles of Support and Accountability, ReBoot uses volunteers to deliver a set of prescribed worksheets with a strengths-based approach to support desistance. Each ReBoot Circle last around six months (rather than the usual 12 months of standard community CoSA) and Core Members learn new skills which assist them in developing self-awareness, self-efficacy and ways of coping with the challenges of daily life. The Circles ReBoot approach is consistent with current thinking and research as to what is most likely to reduce future reoffending.

ReBoot Circles are currently (2021-22) being piloted across the country with Circles South West testing a number of these circles across our region. The pilot will be evaluated by CUK and Lincoln University with the intention of learning, refining and rolling out as an addition to the current range of Circle programmes we offer.

Breaking the Cycle – A Non-Offending Partner Programme

In 2021 we began delivery of this, our first programme specifically for (secondary) victims of sexually harmful behaviour. Designed to support, empower and inform the non-offending partners of individuals accused or convicted of child sexual abuse, Breaking the Cycle was originally developed by our sister charity Circles South East and we are delighted to be licenced to deliver this important, victim-focussed, work across our region.

Significant numbers of men who have sexually offended return to live with their families or establish a new relationship where children are living. Partners of these men play a key role both in terms of protecting children and the offender’s relapse prevention.

Breaking The Cycle, delivered either 1:1 or in a group, aims to enhance the woman’s ability to protect her children from sexual abuse. This can be achieved by working within a supportive environment, educating participants as to why and how sexual abuse occurs, with particular reference to their partner’s behaviour, learning to identify risk, and enhancing participants’ self-esteem so that they have the confidence to enact safety plans. The programme helps reduce the risk of sexual harm to children when a parent has decided to remain with the man. In the event that he is removed from the family, the programme supports recovery.

Breaking The Cycle helps reduce the woman’s sense of isolation and redress cognitive distortion and also improves their ability to problem solve and handle conflict. Programme referrals generally come from children’s safeguarding services and complements statutory child protection processes. We are grateful to the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon who have funded our first group work programme (2021).

Please contact info@circlessw.org.uk for further information and an initial, pre-referral, telephone discussion.

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