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Tackling harmful sexual behaviour: Respond's Circles of Support and Accountability Service


Building on the pioneering work of Circles UK, Respond offers Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) for young people and adults with learning disabilities or autism who display harmful sexual behaviour or have committed sexual offences.

Respond's Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) model represents an effective community-based alternative for maintaining this client group.

Working in close partnership with statutory agencies and care providers, Respond has been delivering this economical and innovative approach to tackling harmful sexual behaviour with impressive results for over four years now.


What is a COSA?


A COSA is a group of 4-5 specially trained volunteers who meet weekly with the person with the sexually harmful behaviour (called the "core member") for a period of up to 18 months  The volunteers work together to create a "mini-community" around the Core Member, providing regular emotional and practical support, modelling social relationships, tackling risky behaviour and helping the Core Member to build a safe, positive and purposeful life.


The COSA operates under the careful supervision of a the COSA Coordinator who works in close conjunction with the Core Member's professional network.  This "outer Circle" consisting for example of social service, mental health and criminal justice professionals is essential to the success of the COSA in helping to guide and shape its direction and priorities.


Each COSA is tailor made to meet the specific needs of each Core Member.  We havesuccessfully delivered COSAs for people with mild to moderate and severe learning disabilities and those with autism.  The ages of our Core Members have ranged from 13-45 and from a range of ethnic backgrounds.  Many have complex mental health issues.  We work with the families of our Core Members.



Does Respond's model work?


Our approach offers value for money and demonstrable positive outcomes as compared with incarceration in prison and hospital.  Respond measures the outcomes of its Circles model using psychometric and other tests to evaluate the potential improvements in the emotional and social status of the core member.  Areas in which there have been provable improvements are:



Personal responsibility                     socialisation                    sexual knowledge            
communication skills                                                     confidence and self-esteem   
 


All these factors work together to support the Core Member as they strive to maintain an offence-free lifestyle and greater social integration.


Respond's unique adapted model is informed by attachment theory, a systematic approach to care and support and best practice in learning disability.  It builds on Respond's 25 years of experience of working therapeutically with victims of trauma; both with those who have been abused and those who abuse.



How to make a referral


We work with a range of referring agencies including parents, schools, learning disability and probation service, health and social care and with mental health an forensic services.


If you would like to discuss a potential referral, discuss funding or receive a referral form, please contact the COSA Coordinator on 0207 874 5485 or by email to Julia.dick@respond.org.uk

     


Download a leaflet for the project



Volunteers wanted for Respond's COSA service


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 harmful sexual behaviour.


Building on the pioneering work of Circles UK, Respond offers Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) for young people and 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 "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 Picco at Respond on Lorenzo.Picco@respond.org.uk  or call 0207 874 5485.


You can also see the role description


'Being a COSA volunteer at Respond was one of 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