Charity that protects children needs more volunteers in Dorset

Dorset Echo: DO YOUR BIT: Volunteers are wanted by the Circles charity DO YOUR BIT: Volunteers are wanted by the Circles charity

A SCHEME that holds convicted sex offenders to account and aims to reduce re-offending is calling for more volunteers in Dorset.

Regional charity Circles is made up of a group of volunteers from the community who aim to provide a supportive social network for convicted offenders on their return to the community.

The charity, which covers the South West, aims to guide offenders by creating a circle of four to six volunteers.

And by making them the ‘core member’ they help develop their social skills, find accommodation and help them find appropriate hobbies and interests.

Jo Burden, who is the Circles South West’s project director, said: “Our volunteers do something amazing. “Their involvement helps protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from sexual harm.

“They do this by providing a circle of support and account-ability which both monitors and supports sexual offenders in their community.”

Volunteers of the scheme are adults of all ages, who must pass an assessment before volunteering, where full training and supervision is given from professionals.

A volunteer from the project said: “Circles help build a safe community because it inv-olves community members, people who aren’t part of the professions, getting involved and volunteering.

“The advice I would give to someone considering volun-teering is, rather than think about it just go ahead. “It is only normal to be a bit worried, but I’d say that once you have started you will have no worries and will wonder why you were thinking like that in the first place.”

A South West MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements) manager said Circles had made a real difference to one offender in the area.

He said:“By supporting him to make the difficult transition towards independent living and developing the necessary skills, he is able to lead an offence-free life.”

An offender who has used the Circles service said: “For me change was slow and difficult but by working with my Circle over a long period of time I feel it helped me avoid having any further victims”.

To volunteer, contact Circles South West at info.circlessw@gmail.com or visit circles-uk.org.uk

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