Help is needed: Mask Sewing
People in your neighbourhood need your help.
Are you a mature, empathetic person? Do you want to create safer communities? Are you great at mentoring people who want positive changes in their life? If so, then this might just be the volunteer opportunity for you! Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a community-based, restorative justice program of Mennonite Central Committee Alberta in Calgary. CoSA assists in the safe integration of people with histories of sexual offending as they come back into the community after incarceration. Our clients (who we call "core members") are individuals who have voluntarily sought help, have little (or no) social support, and desire to lead responsible, meaningful, and crime-free lives. CoSA has been in Canada for over 25 years and has been shown to help reduce rates of re-offence (see http://cosacanada.com/documents/cosa-canada-research). Social isolation and a lack of positive relationships are two significant risk factors in sexual re-offending. CoSA addresses this gap by forming "circles," which are groups of three to five screened and trained volunteers from the community who befriend a core member, offer them social and emotional support, and hold them accountable. This happens through weekly group meetings and interactions, which are guided by an agreement that specifies expectations, boundaries, commitments, and goals. On average, it is a commitment of 1-4 hours per week. People who volunteer with CoSA are: -compassionate and mature (at least 21 years old), able to effectively balance both support and accountability; -willing to walk alongside, coach, and encourage the core member, rather than attempt to “fix” them; -believe in human dignity and that people who want help can change and should be supported; -committed to community safety and addressing risk factors and concerns; -able to maintain healthy and appropriate boundaries with the core member; and -team players who can get on well with others—staff, other volunteers, and core members. The role of a Support and Accountability Worker is to: -participate in a “circle,” a community of a core member and other volunteers, attending a group meeting once per week (required); -in addition to circle meetings, meet with the core member one-on-one in public locations or connect through phone calls, once or more per week (ideal but optional); -maintain confidentiality, with a recognition and understanding of its limitations; -record individual volunteer hours and activities, submitting a monthly report; and -be willing to commit to one-year of involvement, renewable each year. CoSA is a great way to meaningfully and significantly contribute to safer and healthier communities. If this is an opportunity that interests you, or if you would simply like more information about CoSA, we would love to hear from you!
Volunteers will be provided with Basic Training (5-8 hours), as well as opportunities for Advanced (Ongoing) Training
CoSA is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in an important and controversial area. It is a chance to contribute to public safety and restored lives by participating in personal and community transformation. People with a history of sex offence are continually released back into the community and many want help. Will they have community support and accountability, or will they be left without it? That depends on you and other members of the community, as we can't do this work without you!