Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA)

 

Circle Volunteer Role Description

 

Role description: To provide a context of support and accountability for individuals (core members) transitioning back to the community after being incarcerated for sexual offending, applying a restorative approach.  

Volunteers are central to the success of circles and CoSA work overall.  CoSA welcomes volunteer community members committed to the principles of restorative justice and a shared responsibility to build a healed, just, and safer community.

 

Volunteer Qualities

The qualities, skills, and attitudes sought in a CoSA volunteer are: 

  • Committed to learning about, and working within, a restorative justice context

  • Ability to maintain clear boundaries

  • Capacity to problem-solve, learn from, and make decisions as part of a team

  • Empathic and non-judgmental 

  • Good interpersonal and communication skills and an ability to be constructive

  • Ability to be proactive but also seek support when needed

  • Willingness to learn practical approaches for facilitating discussions

  • Ability to accept guidance, supervision and support from and communicate

  • with staff, providing regular feedback when appropriate 

  • Willingness to participate in on-going skills development

  • Availability and reliability to fulfill tasks as a circle member

 

Tasks and Responsibilities as a CoSA Volunteer

CoSA Volunteers undertake the following in relation to the site:

  • Commit to volunteering for a minimum period of one year, or as otherwise discussed with staff

  • Be available and committed to attend regular circle meetings as scheduled with the circle and staff

  • Advise staff of any changes in their availability

  • Abide by the CoSA site’s volunteer policies and protocols

  • Attend all trainings provided 

  • Seek staff support as needed, including for emotional overwhelm 

 

CoSA’s ultimate aim is to promote community safety and help prevent further harm.  To this effect, volunteers undertake the following in relation to the circle:​

  • Learn about core member’s needs, strengths and risk factors 

  • Facilitate open and honest dialogue, guiding the core member to identify goals and personal priorities, as well as developing and maintaining a relapse prevention/self-management plan

  • Model healthy, accountable relating in accordance with a signed circle agreement and CoSA principles of support and accountability

  • Support the core member in practicing healthy behaviours and in seeking outside help for needs beyond the circle’s capacity including addictions, mental health, learning disabilities, etc.

  • Support the core member in addressing practical needs (particularly in the early months of the circle), such as strategizing ways to secure income or housing  

  • Respect confidentiality of the core member and circle; and follow duty to report protocol when such circumstances arise

  • Submit circle reports to staff and otherwise communicate with and regularly update staff on the circle’s progress

Training and Development

Initial and ongoing learning opportunities are provided in areas such as sexual offending, child abuse and trauma, victim perspectives, and understanding institutionalization. Additionally, volunteers receive regular support and debriefs with staff, and opportunities for additional connecting with other volunteers. 

Process for Applying to be a Volunteer

Candidates are required to undergo a screening process including a criminal record check before being assessed on the basis of all factors including their application form, references, participation in volunteer training, and final interview with CoSA staff.