Welcome to my Autumn update. I think it is fair to say that the last six months have been some of the most challenging that Circle, its staff team, the families we support, the voluntary sector more widely and the country have ever had to deal with. Despite the scale of the disruption that has been caused by the Covid pandemic what has really struck me has been the commitment, passion and innovation demonstrated by our staff team and our families in facing these challenges and mitigating their effects as best we can.

Time and again I have been impressed by our project team’s capacity to innovate their approach in order to continue providing support to the families that have been most affected by the pandemic. Whether providing the basic necessities of life, ensuring families were digitally connected or just ensuring that families had had a trusted advocate to help them navigate the lockdown workers adapted their approaches to continue working. Some examples that stood out for me were the delivery of activity based group activities, such as cooking, growing and creative projects, delivered online. These really helped to keep children and families engaged in stimulating activities while normal community resources were closed off to them.





Throughout the pandemic the safety of our staff and the families we work with has been our number one concern. We have made every effort to ensure that staff and families are in contact in a way that does not create risk of spreading the virus. To this end we have issues guidelines that take account of Scottish Government instructions and timetables for exiting lockdown. We have updated these our guidelines as restrictions on meeting outdoors have eased and will continue to amend them as the guidance from government changes. Our latest Covid guidelines can be found on our website.





The DARED Challenge

In June this year Circle organised our annual Dared Challenge. Given the circumstances we were not expecting that it would be our most successful ever fundraising event with over 300 participants and £36,000 raised to support our work. We were bowled over by the response participants and donors and the positive atmosphere created around the event on our social media channels.  For the first, time I took part in the challenge myself, along with 6 other staff and two trustees, running 5K every day for the whole month of June. The challenge was made a lot easier by the positive support from other participants both inside and outside Circle. I would like to thank all the participants and donors who made this event such a success and look forward to future editions.





Parents Under Pressure Training

Circle maintains a strong commitment to developing and adapting the support we provide through staff training. To this end we have adopted the Parenting Under Pressure (PUP) programme in our projects supporting families with the greatest challenges to overcome. The PUP programme combines psychological principles relating to parenting, child behaviour and parental emotional regulation within a case management model. It is designed for families where there are multiple challenges that affect family functioning such as; mental health, substance use or severe financial stress. The program is carried out in the home, is strengths based and individualised to the needs of each family. Practitioners have found that this programme is a valuable additional resource in promoting sensitive and responsive parenting that helps build nurturing and loving relationships in families.

Students Returning 

We are delighted to be able to welcome student placements back to Circle following a pause during the pandemic restrictions. At the end of August, we welcomed three students from The University of Edinburgh and one from Edinburgh Napier University back into our projects. We look forward to supporting them through their placement and making their experience at circle a positive part of their learning and development as social work practitioners.

Read our first student back after Covid, Steven’s, interview here.

Board Changes

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it was with a touch of sadness that Circle said farewell to our longstanding trustee Wendy Patterson at our AGM on the 27th of July. Wendy has been an active and valued member of the Circle board since 2010.  She brought a wealth of experience from her career in Social Work education and always demonstrated a passion and commitment to helping families affected by poverty and to supporting the team at Circle. We would like to thank Wendy for all her positive contributions over the last 10 years and wish her all the best for the future.

Circle’s New Strategy – Coming Soon

Following a consultation with our staff team, board and service users Circle has produced a new strategy for the next three years.  The strategy identifies our key ambitions for the coming period and will provide and overall framework which will help us to ensure we are continuing to work in a way that is in line with our mission purpose and values. The strategy’s design is being finalised now so watch this space for when we publish it.

As always if you have any thoughts or questions on any of the above then please feel free to get in touch.

Mark Kennedy


0131 551 7573