Georgia's Community Circle
Thursday 7 July 2016

GeorgiaGeorgia asked for a Community Circle because she wanted more going on in her life and to make some more local connections, especially with those her own age.

Brandon’s Volunteering Manager, David, came to meet this young lady and explained that a Community Circle is a way to support someone to make changes or improvements in their life, by bringing together the people they’re close to (e.g. family, friends, neighbours, as well as paid staff), regularly, with a trained Volunteer Facilitator. David matched her with a lovely facilitator aptly named Joy, who he thought she would get on well with, and who shares some of her interests – for example, they're both keen cyclists.

To start her Community Circle, Georgia participated in what is known as a Person-Centred Review. This looked at all the different areas in her life… what’s working and not working, and her aspirations for the future. It then set some achievable outcomes, and the proposed actions that the Circle could take to work towards these outcomes. At each Circle meeting, Joy helps the Circle think about what they can do next, and what each person in the circle can contribute.

Since our first meeting, Georgia has achieved some great things; she's started a work placement, begun some classes, volunteers as a football helper, joined a social group, and has been accepted into a Duke of Edinburgh group to achieve her silver award.

Georgia is also really benefiting from the social side of the regular, informal Circle meetings. It's been great for us to come together, share progress, and have friends and family who might otherwise have been sidelined, more deeply involved. We're all better connected now the members of the Circle know each other on a deeper level than before. We've bonded over snacks and laughter around the dining room table. The Circle is slowly growing and blossoming, just as we had hoped. Friends that had some reservations about joining the Circle are now willing to get involved. Soon I feel I won’t be needed at all (it is funny; our goal as staff is often to make our roles obsolete!).

We’re using a fantastic site called Rally Round, which helps with both the practical and social elements of the Circle. I recommend you watch this great video about Rally Round and Community Circles. Rally Round helps us make sure that tasks that might otherwise get filed away in forgettable to-do lists, actually get done. Georgia has a 'network' on Rally Round, where we can easily add 'helpers', anyone can nominate a new 'task' that needs doing, or volunteer to do something. Some people can’t physically make it along, but are joining in remotely, in their own time, on Rally Round. We're all becoming better connected around Georgia, who is always at the centre of her Circle!

It’s not all fun of course, sometimes we discuss quite difficult things, but, every single meet-up has ended on a high. It’s also really reassuring to know that there is a connected group of dedicated loved ones who are there, ready, and willing to step in if things ever do take an unexpected or unfortunate turn. We're stronger when we're better connected!

Julia Rasmussen
Brandon Team Leader, London