Author: Colin Newton
The purpose of community circles is to bring people from a local community together to share their skills, talents, gifts and resources. This idea is based upon the premise that ALL of us need three things in our lives to make us happy and fulfilled: money, friendship and meaning.
We believe that everyone needs community, everyone needs to be heard and everyone needs to have fun.
Community circles are based upon reciprocity and the assumption that EVERYONE has both gifts and needs – whether these are labelled or not. The circles adopt the fundamental value of inclusion that ‘all means all’, no one is excluded from community circles, instead the circle members work out how to include everyone equally and safely.
A community circle is made up of participants and allies from the local community. The meeting starts with everyone sharing food and conversations. Next the group comes together in a circle so that everyone can see each other and shares what is good and new in their lives, everyone gets a turn to be listened to. ‘New and Good’ breaks the habit of thinking about and acting from what’s wrong, it is an exercise of giving and receiving attention with one another and it also provides a strong foundation of strengths from which we can think about and tackle difficulties. The group is then asked the question what do they want, need or have to offer.
Community circles provide a great foundation or starting point from which to explore connections, build relationships, locate resources and share skills. These circles will be a particularly important resource for Brokers and the people that they work for. They provide a safe forum in which people can meet and friendships can start, a natural reservoir of people and relationships where people can be invited to offer their time and capacity.
To be successful we have to start from a belief in inclusion. A belief that:
- we are all born ‘in’
- all means all
- everyone needs to belong
- everyone is ready
- everyone needs support
- everyone can communicate
- everyone can contribute
- together we’re better
Inspired by Beyond Welfare – Inclusive Solutions have begun seeding and growing community circles in the Nottingham area. We are also busy growing circles in places as diverse as Leeds, Perth, Woodbridge in Suffolk and Aberdeen.
The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.
Community Circles © Colin Newton 2017.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.