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


Volunteering with Circles South West

We operate over seven counties in the South West; contact us to find out the opportunities we offer near you.

Volunteering with Circles South West

Volunteering with Circles South West

Volunteering with Circles South West is a challenging but rewarding role and people become involved for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are looking to make a valuable contribution to your community or you are interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice. Whatever the reason we have a number of projects running across the South West for you to become involved in.

Depending on your location we offer the opportunity to volunteer in:

Community Circles

Young People’s Circles

Circles for people with Intellectual Disabilities

All of these projects place the onus on support and accountability; allowing our core member to work towards an offence free life and reducing sexual harm in your community.

Use the tabs above to discover the different projects in more detail.


Adult Community Circles

Adult Community Circles

Community Circles for Adults 21+

Community Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) are for adults (21+) who have been convicted of a sexual offence. Core members can self-refer however, most referrals come from probation, police and prisons. Following assessment and volunteer matching each Circle meets over a period of 12 months with the intention to support the core members’ safe transition into the community. With an understanding of the core member’s risk, needs and legal restrictions, the Circle uses a strengths-based approach to hold the core member accountable for their thoughts and behaviour, build self-confidence and promote desistance to ensure no further victims.

Each Circle comprises one core member and 4-5 trained volunteers working with a professional Coordinator who, in turn, works closely with the core member’s police and probation managers.

Volunteers meet together with their core member weekly at a safe, risk-assessed community venue. Meetings take place on the same day in the same location for a period of approx. 12 months. and are usually held in the late afternoon/early evenings.

Volunteers produce minutes of each meeting and these must be shared electronically to their Circle Coordinator within 48 hours of each meeting. To volunteer you will need to have a reasonable level of IT skills and volunteering will include travel/admin time as well as the face to face meeting time.

Volunteers have full, and on-going, training and support.

Volunteer Role & Responsibilities


Circles for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Circles for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Circles for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are for adults with mild or borderline learning disabilities who have a history of harmful sexual behaviour.  Core Members with ID may have similar needs to other adults convicted of sexual offences; they may suffer from social isolation, emotional loneliness and experience difficulties accessing services. A Circle of Support and Accountability provides a valuable, additional tool for statutory services to support and hold to account an individual to prevent further sexual harm.

As a volunteer in an ID Circle, you can help the Core Member build and sustain relationships, develop a positive identity, increase self-worth and learn socially acceptable behaviour so they can integrate safely into their community. In addition you can assist with practical issues such as appointments, skills development and constructive use of time.

ID Circles may be more activity based, depending on your Core Member and volunteers should have a patient manner but still be able to set firm boundaries.



Young People’s Circles

Young People’s Circles

Circles for people under the age of 20

Circles of Support and Accountability are offered to young people aged between 10 and 20 who have engaged in harmful sexual harmful (HSB) and want to avoid future HSB. We work closely with partner agencies such as the Bristol Be Safe Service and local Youth Offending Teams. At the point of referral, the young person will have accepted responsibility for their HSB and be committed to leading a harm-free life.

A young person’s Circle comprises 3-4 volunteers who provide a supportive social network for the young person, reducing social isolation and supporting safe community integration. After getting to know their volunteers, the young person is encouraged to discuss any worries they may have with their Circle. The Circle also offers practical support and advice with issues like friendships, exams and employment and helps the young person to develop their self- confidence and social skills, thereby helping reduce their risk of re-offending.

A Circle meets for an hour or so each week and is tailored to the individual needs and risks of the young person. Initial meetings take place in a safe public venue such as a church or council building. Subsequent meetings are held in cafés, sports venues or at other activities such as climbing and bowling. Formal reviews involving professionals, take place on a quarterly basis and each Circle runs for a period of 12 months.

As a volunteer, we ask that you commit to attend meetings regularly and maintain good communication with your fellow volunteers and Circle coordinator. Fundamental to the success of a Circle is the ability to build a trusting, non-judgmental relationship with the young person (Core Member) and, from this foundation, to challenge and support the Core Member to ensure no further HSB. Circle meetings last for an hour with 15 minutes before to allow volunteers to prepare and 15 minutes afterwards to debrief without the Core Member being present.

Volunteers share responsibility for ensuring minutes are typed up after each meeting and are returned to the Circle coordinator within 48 hours. These minutes are then forwarded by the coordinator to the referring agency and relevant professionals.

Over the past 5 years, the Young People’s Service has expanded and we now offer YP Circles across South West England.

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