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The Circle Movement

A membership organisation for older people, which takes care of everyday worries via a strong social network.

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Circle is a membership organisation open to anyone over the age of 50, living within the geographic area of a local Circle. Its mission is to build and support the capabilities of its members to lead independent and flourishing lives.

Participle developed Circle in 2007 in partnership with 250 older people and their families who told us they wanted 3 things: support with life’s practical tasks to stay sorted; to be socially connected around shared interests and values (not age) and the opportunity to live life with a purpose and contribute to their local community.

Today Circle is run independently and offers social and practical support to all of its members. Members pay a low monthly subscription fee, which encourages a feeling of ownership over the service. They participate in a variety of monthly events, where they connect with people that share their interests. They can reach out for practical help in and around the home, delivered by trustworthy local helpers. Circle also offers support packages for members with greater health needs. Members shape the service by expressing their needs, wants and hopes and contributing
their time and energy. Circle creates a network where people can be each other’s solutions.

To date 7 Circles have been started in England and over 5,000 people across the country have joined. Circle’s impact data shows that over this period over three quarters of our members have made deep social connections and thousands of hours of practical support have been offered. Circle has saved local partners money. Circle’s independently reviewed outcomes show that Circle has been instrumental in reducing hospital re-admissions and in preventing the unnecessary use of statutory services. Our members’ stories are rich testament to the way in which this highly relational service has transformed their lives.

Open to all, regardless of levels of need or income, Circle has provided a model of how future services might look in Britain. Circle’s approach, language and philosophy have influenced local commissioning and the national policy environment. Both the current coalition government and the opposition have publicly recognised that Circle is an important model for the future transformation of adult social care. On the ground Rochdale and Nottingham Circle continue to grow and provide lessons and inspiration.

What people have to say about Circle

“In local government, we know that public services can’t carry on being delivered in the same way they always have been. Participle’s portfolio of work, in partnership with councils, makes a unique and valuable contribution to system reform.” Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman, Local Government Association

“My life was in a downward spiral, but Circle has changed my life around.” Circle Member

“People told me that joining Nottingham Circle had literally changed their lives… (Circle) represents excellent value for money and clearly has the potential to reduce demand on more acute services which are over-stretched and under financial pressure, it’s a great example of the benefits of early intervention.” Rt. Hon. Lilian Greenwood MP, Nottingham South

“I had not been out for a meal with other people for over 20 years. Getting out, meeting new people, communicating with them, is very enjoyable. It cheers me up.” Circle Member

“I have a great deal of respect for the work of Participle. At a time when we need social innovation they always have an eye on the opportunity to scale. That is why we are supporting the work on the Circle concept.”Rt. Hon. Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, UK Government

“Each month I look forward to helping out. The Circle’s been so good to me, I’m really happy to give back.” Circle Member


If you want to learn more about our vision for public services, read our mission statement Beveridge 4.0 or browse our Relational Welfare blog, where we explore the everyday work of creating services that foster human relationships. Read more stories from Circle members on our Relational Welfare blog.

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