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


Barbara van der Eerden

Appointed May 2024

Barbara was born, raised and educated in the Netherlands. She completed a teaching degree in Delft. Following a move to the UK in the 1980s she worked in long-term voluntary residential roles, initially in an experimental community for people with significant psychiatric diagnoses and later in a farming community for young adults with a variety of special needs and intellectual challenges.

After settling in Hampshire, Barbara was employed by Hampshire Social Services (child services), particularly involved with reconnecting children who were excluded from education with learning, daily structure and, once ready, a new school.

Barbara joined Circles South West in June 2024 after working for over 3 decades in Probation in Bristol.

Her first role in Probation was in an intensive rehabilitation project for young adult offenders, she then worked as a court officer and eventually specialised in group work as Facilitator and later a Treatment Manager, providing practice guidance to colleagues and overseeing monitoring and evaluation.

Over time, and involving periods of intensive advanced level training and accreditations, Barbara moved to focussing exclusively on therapeutic, rehabilitative interventions for people convicted of sexual offences and supporting colleagues responsible for their statutory supervision.

Alongside her main role Barbara was also a National and Regional Trainer and Assessor, assessing and training staff in several specific areas of risk assessment and – management relevant to sexual offending, as well as several other accredited programmes and coordinating and piloting these.

All through those years and experiences, and because of them, she developed a wide range of knowledge, skills and attitudes geared to working with people who are too often marginalised, seen as difficult and deemed unworthy. A strong belief in people being able to achieve positive, sustainable change has been her motivation throughout.

Barbara first became aware of Circles around 2009 through a someone who’d been the Core Member in one of the first Circles in the UK. In his Probation group he consistently showed he continued to be positively affected by the support he’d received from his Circle. This experience contributed to Barbara adopting an informal ‘link-person’ role between her local Probation area and local Circles South West Coordinators. The opportunity to take up a Circles South West Coordinator role now allows her to be fully involved in the work of Circles South West.


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