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


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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