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Working with ex-offenders

Circles is an award winning charity that is committed to encouraging and promoting the rehabilitation, treatment, education and care of persons who have committed sexual offences, with the goal of reducing re-offending. We assist people to access the better, stronger parts of themselves and to use this to reduce their sexually harmful behaviour, and thus the impact of such behaviours on survivors or potential victims.
Circles are invested in the protection of and care of victims and others affected by offending behaviour.

What does the opportunity involve doing?

A ’Circle of Support and Accountability’ is a group of Volunteers from a local community which forms a Circle around an offender. In Circles, the sex offender is referred to as the 'Core Member'. Each Circle consists of about 4 volunteers and a Core Member.

It aims to provide a supportive social network that also requires the Core Member to take responsibility (be ‘accountable’) for his/her ongoing risk management. The Circle can also provide support and practical guidance in such things as developing their social skills, finding suitable accommodation or helping the Core Member to find appropriate hobbies and interests.

Volunteers are fully informed of the Core Member's past pattern of offending, and whilst helping them to settle into the community the Volunteers also to assist them to recognise patterns of thought and behaviour that could lead to their re-offending. Within it, the Core Member can grow in self-esteem and develop healthy adult relationships, maximising his or her chances of successfully re-integrating into the community in a safe and fulfilling way.

The Core Member is involved from the beginning, is included in all decision making and, like all other members of the Circle, signs a contract committing him or herself to the Circle and its aims. Each Circle is unique, because it is individually designed around the needs of the Core Member.

What induction, training and support is offered?

Due to the nature of this volunteer role we are keen for volunteers must commit to between 1 year and 18 months, with the possibility of this being extended if the Core Member has ongoing issues. Volunteering is for 2-3 hours a week. This includes travel to and from the meeting.

Mandatory Training:
Training is run 3 times a year in January, April and September (dates are confirmed closer to the time). It is often run on two consecutive Saturdays 10am – 4:30pm. The training covers:
Attitudes and beliefs towards sexual abuse
The role and responsibilities of a Circles volunteer
How Circles work
Motivational interviewing techniques
Sexual offender treatment methods
Boundaries and self-care
How to engage with sexual offenders effectively
Further Training/Development:
Supplementary training is run as extras throughout the year but volunteers will be informed of these once the initial training is completed. Courses may include Risk Assessment of Sexual Offending, Skilled Helper Training, Safeguarding (level 2), Desistance Theory, the Better Lives Model, Sexual Offender Treatment and the Role Gender Plays in Sexual Offending.

What skills or qualities are needed?

You must be over 21, due to the environment in which you will be working (although you may apply before your 21st with the aim of attending training once aged 21).
You will need to commit to a minimum of 18 months (including times when the university is closed for holidays)– this is to ensure continuation of support within the circle
Happy to undertake an enhanced DBS check. (A conviction does not necessarily exclude volunteers but it is recommended you discuss this with a coordinator prior to training).

We also have a number of criteria which we would see as desirable for a Circles volunteer:
The ability to be empathic
A belief in Restorative Justice
Able to separate an individual from their behaviour
Good communication skills
A degree of analytical thinking and problem-solving
Able to manage emotions appropriately, behave appropriately and maintain personal boundaries
Remain non-judgemental where appropriate
Be respectful and constructive
Able to work as part of a team and using own initiative
Happy to accept guidance and support from Circles staff

More info

Circles South East

Deadline for applications

9 Aug 2020


Prisoners, offenders and their families


Volunteering as part of a team Befriending

Disabled access?


Expenses paid?


Childcare available?


Contact name

Mike Terry

More info »