Several organisations provide personal support networks for individuals with disabilities. Two schemes which have originated in Canada are Circles of Support and Microboards writes Wendy Buchanan, Circles of Support


Personal support networks of

  1. Are you isolated because of the difficulties you face in life?
  2. Is it hard for you to become involved in your community because you have a learning difficulty?
  3. Does your situation mean that it is difficult for you to meet and make friends and relationships?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions then perhaps you might be interested in a circle of support.

A Circle is a very simple but exciting concept that originates from Canada. Basically it is a group of people who come together to assist you (and maybe your family) because you feel alone or left out of your community. You may wish to make changes in your life but not know where or how to go about it, the circle will listen to you and through their friendship support you to work towards your dreams.

Some of the circle members may share your interests and you might enjoy sport, music or trips to the cinema together, or you may wish to try something new or just have a night on the town together.

The circle can provide practical support and advice if you have a difficult choice or decision to make, it can also help you to speak up for yourself by giving backing and support.

Sometimes you may need emotional support—we all get fed up from time to time and need shoulder to cry on, someone who will listen but not make you feel worse! Circle members will also be there to celebrate with you when you are happy and want to mark an achievement.

Circles Network is the leading organisation building inclusive communities in Great Britain and Ireland. The person centred approach of the organisation and its use of tools such as circles of support has made a remarkable impact on individuals and their families.

I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who would like more information on the circles of support organisation. You can contact me by telephone: 028-66385067 (from Northern Ireland) or 048-66385067 (from the Republic), or by email at