Do you want to
tackle prejudice and ignorance around issues of harmful sexual behaviour and
learning disabilities and autism in our society? You can break the cycle of abuse
and reduce the risk of sexual offences in your community by supporting an
individual with a learning disability and/or autism who has displayed sexually
Building on the pioneering work of Circles UK, Respond offers Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) for young people & adults with learning disabilities who have harmful sexual behaviour or have committed sexual offences.
A COSA is a group of 4-5 volunteers from the local community who meet regularly with the person with the sexually harmful behaviour (called a “Core Member”). The COSA provides a supportive social network and helps the Core Member to build a safe, positive and purposeful life which does not put himself or others at risk.
Can you spare one evening a week (meetings usually last for an hour) for the next 18 months ? Are you over 21, empathetic and with good communication skills? We need people from all walks of life. As most of the Core Members are male, we particularly welcome male volunteers.
Full training, support and supervision provided.
Want to learn more about this
innovative and rewarding project ?
Contact Lorenzo at Respond on Lorenzo@respond.org.uk or call 0207 874 5485.
'Being a COSA volunteer at Respond was one the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in community safety and looking for a way to prevent sexual violence.' - Former Volunteer
What makes Circles work?
6 Key Values Underpin Circles Work
Support - We believe that with the necessary support people can make the changes necessary to end their sexual offending.
Responsibility - The Circles helps the core member to be accountable for their actions.
Inclusiveness - Managing safety through inclusion rather than exclusion.
Community Involvement - Recognising the importance of community involvement.
Growth & Learning - Recognising that with necessary support and challenge, people have the ability to grow, learn and change their behaviour.
Humanization & Respect - Rather than dehumanisation, we see the power and importance of seeing everyone as an individual, and treating them with respect.
'I used to think sex offenders were all just monsters. But then I started thinking that everyone has a story, their own background that got them where they are. We treat our core member with respect, something that's never happened before in his life. The importance this has made in his life I think is one of the main reasons he hasn't offended again.' Respond Volunteer
Respond has been addressing the needs of people with learning disabilities who have sexually offended, or who are at risk of doing so, for over 20 years. Our specialist risk assessment, psychotherapy and consultation services have developed in response to the complex needs of our clients.
Through our work we concerned for some time that people with learning disabilities who exhibited sexually harmful behaviour had little support in the community and were therefore likely to re-offend to do isolation, stigmatization and frequently, unsafe living conditions. However, if they were given support and care the risk of recidivism declined. It was apparent that there was also a need for a different non-clinical form of support that could work alongside our therapuetic work. It was from this belief that the COSA project as Respond was born.
Our COSA work is informed by attachment theory, trauma theory, best practice in learning disability and a systemic approach to care, support and accountability. Working alongside Circles UK, Respond Circles of Support and Accountability take the core elements of our clinic-based work into the community.
How to Make a Referral
Due to generous funding from Esmee Fairbairn, Lankelly Chase Trust, and the Camden Innovation and Development Fund, we are able to provide some fully funded and subsidised places.
We can provide fully funded Circles for:
• Adults (aged 18 +) with learning disabilities with sexually harmful behaviour in the London Borough of Camden
• Young people (aged 13 - 21) with learning disabilities with sexually harmful behaviour in London
We can also provide Circles with funding for people with learning disabilities across London.
We welcome referrals from most sources including probation, social services, and family & self-referrals. If you are a practitioner and would like to receive a referral form or talk about a potential referral contact a COSA Coordinator on 0207 380 8259 / 0207 383 0700 or email.
Download a leaflet for the project
You can also see the role description.