If the only interaction you have with circle members is at the meetings themselves, you run the risk of the circle members not forming strong relationships with each other or your family member and losing the momentum of being part of something great.
So here are some tips for keeping the momentum going….
Tip # 1: Meet up with individual circle members for social activities in between meetings.
Now this doesn’t have to end up as another thing on your to do list. That thing is already long!
Ask your circle members to identify some things that they are already doing in their lives that your family member might be able to join in on. That way it won’t be anything extra for your circle member to do, it’s just part of their ordinary routine.
So if your family member is an avid Canberra Raiders fan and so is one of your circle members your circle facilitator or the circle member themselves could arrange for your family member to catch up with them at the game, down at the local sports club or at home to watch it on tv.
This might take a bit of planning of course to avoid potential disasters. Don’t let that fall on your plate either. Get your circle of support facilitator or a support worker to liaise with your circle of support member to plan out how to make this a successful activity that could be done in an ongoing way to build relationships. The circle member doesn’t need to support your family member either – a support worker can join them. That can lead to your circle member gaining confidence in supporting your family member.
Tip #2: Listen to and act on their ideas
Involving your circle members in setting goals and working out ways to achieve them will help them to feel part of something important.
You will be tempted to want to control the whole show. The danger of that is that the circle members might then start to feel reluctant to make suggestions and take on doing some tasks.
Take yourself out of circle meetings – go make a cup of tea and let them continue the discussion. Don’t attend circle meetings at all sometimes. And even if you think their idea might fail, as long as the consequences of failing aren’t too grave, let them learn through their mistakes.
Tip #3 Keep circle members up to date with what’s been happening for your family member
It will be important to keep communication going and help circle members feel they are part of something important, that they are making a contribution and that they are appreciated.
Chat with your circle about how they would like to maintain communication in between meetings. Isaac’s circle uses the following tools:
What’s app – for sharing short 1 sentence messages about good things that have been happening and usually with a photo.
Podio – for recording meeting minutes, collaborating on projects and providing training
Facebook group – for sharing Isaac’s successes with wider community of family and friends and potential future circle members.
Tip #4 Celebrate the little wins, no matter how little
Your circle members are part of your team. Celebrating small achievements will help them feel they are being successful and useful. Don’t wait to celebrate when your son or daughter moves out of home. Celebrate finalising the housemate job advert, finding the ideal welcome mat, picking out a lounge suite and so on.
Get step by step guidance on starting and running a circle of support in my Circle of Support Project
This project will help you to lower your anxiety over asking for help from family and friends, figure out who to ask, how to ask, what you are asking for, how to run your first and subsequent circle gatherings and how to maintain communication and momentum in between gatherings.
I’ll also help you to figure out how to involve your family member with a disability in gatherings and decision making even if they struggle with anxiety or communication.