Community Circle Organiser

Summary

You will support, be in service of, develop and help start equal care and support community circles - groups of people in a local area who want to come together to tackle the caring challenges where they live. You'll help community volunteers to join up and give support to others, including people giving peer support and experiencing caring needs of their own.

Your role is to facilitate the growth and development of the circle, to help bring in resources, to connect people to Equal Care infrastructure and to support the community volunteering. You are also the point person to go to for resolving problems and concerns that may arise in the course of the circle’s work. Your focus is on ‘caring for the whole’, having deep consideration and concern for the dynamics of each circle and facilitating positive, healthy power.

This role is part of a pilot - some of the activities described below are dependent on the development of Equal Care’s digital offering and will come into play over the course of next year.

Note there is no official deadline for applications. However,  we are holding rolling interviews and will recruit as soon as we find someone(s) brilliant, so apply soon if you want to go for it! We will fill up interview date slots on a first come first served basis so the sooner your application goes in the more likely it is that we'll be able to interview on the first date.

Our interview dates for this role are the 16th, 17th and afternoon of the 19th December. We're hoping to recruit before Christmas.

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The basics

Salary £25,000 - £28,000 dependent on experience and qualifications 
Full-time or part-time? Either. Your choice.
Flexible working okay? Yes, of course, although be mindful that the majority of community meetings will be taking place in evenings and over weekends to accommodate volunteers. You won't be going to all of them but you do need to take this into account for this role.
Job share allowed?Yes , that too
Can I combine it with other roles in Equal Care Co-op? Yes, absolutely
Where is it?The role geography covers the whole of Calderdale but for the first year will be in and around Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Blackshaw Head with office time in Halifax. Your place of work will be University Business Centre, 27 Horton St, Halifax HX1 1QE.
Do I need a car?No, but it would really help with getting to people for circle meetings and connecting with volunteers. If you can drive but don't have a car we'll sign you up to our local eco friendly car club. We also welcome avid cyclists!
Key Circle (i.e. main team)People
Link Person (i.e. main person to support you)Emma Back (for first year)
Your Links Circle community volunteers + team members on a rotating annual basis
 Circle RolesYou may be nominated into these as part of your work.
Disabilities and differences welcome?More than welcome - actively welcome. Please apply! We're disability confident and a mindful employer and we're committed to doing our bit to erode the disability employment gap.
Disclosure and Barring Service check?Yes. We will need an Enhanced Check as part of a conditional offer for this job. We follow the Code of Conduct for these.

Some definitions before we begin

Community Organising is the work of bringing people together to identify and find solutions to important local issues. Community organisers reach out, listen, connect and motivate people to build their collective power. 

A community support circle is a group of people coming together in their neighbourhood to tackle the caring challenges unique to their area or particular circumstances. It has a diverse membership representing all the perspectives in caring (people getting support, family members, professionals, local volunteers…).  The circle members make up the membership of Equal Care Co-op, but they act semi-autonomously, having significant direction and control over how the circle works and the work that it comes together to do. 

What you'll be doing

We like and support dynamic and emerging work roles. Each section below should be treated as a mini-role in its own right and the share of time you spend on each will change. Significant changes are agreed as part of the consent process with your circle and you lead on your role review at least biennially. You will act upon the role, helping to sculpt it and shape the experiences of circle organisers who will follow in your footsteps.

Launch community support circles

We are setting up our first two circles in Blackshaw Head and Hebden Bridge, closely followed (or possibly overtaken) by Tod. You’ll be the go-to person for this work.

  • Arrange and publicise initial circle meetings, linking in with existing networks
  • Find and work with connected members of the community who are close to the problem and passionate about solving it
  • Support circle members to shape the circle’s remit, aims and identity
  • Facilitate the first few meetings until the circle is ready to nominate its own facilitator
  • Stand in for absent roles as needed (e.g. secretary)
  • Working with the equal care facilitator and training and learning lead, transition the ‘ready and willing’ community volunteers into independent care and support roles (case by case)
  • Train and support people in facilitation, leadership and other key circle roles

  • Help circles work with our core governance principles of equivalence and effectiveness

  • Support circles with decision-making processes (e.g. nominating roles, deciding their budget spends)

Keep the momentum going

Circle membership will fluctuate and change. Circle success is reliant on goodwill and volunteer engagement. The day-to-day work of the circle will mostly be on a one to one basis (volunteers supporting people, independent care and support workers giving paid support). But the real potential power of it is in the group. 

  • Listen to and act upon individual concerns with the support of your colleagues

  • Support the group to surface and act upon concerns in a kind, constructive way

  • Where it’s not possible for another member of the circle to resolve disagreements, act to mediate these

  • Help the group think through broader project aspirations (for example, putting on an event or starting intergenerational projects), commit to them and achieve them in a realistic timeframe

Community development and asset-based thinking

We expect some circles to have more access to resources (time, stuff to share, skills and expertise) than others. And we expect that this will change over time. Every circle is unique.

  • Identify and help activate existing circle resources which can be pooled / shared

  • Support crossovers between circles (e.g. one circle has access to voluntary safeguarding training expertise and the other has access to lots of volunteer drivers)

  • Keep a shared resource of circle assets and support the development of the equal care platform to help make best community use of them 

  • Connect with other local co-operatives, statutory and social purpose organisations to explore partnerships and connections (e.g. first responders in rural areas, community transport)

Support circle community and peer volunteers

Although volunteers will also get contact and help in relation to people they offer support to, you will support their work and wellbeing in connection with the circle and the wider co-operative. This may be in collaboration with other circle members, who can be nominated into lighter versions of this role. 

  • Listen to and resolve issues as they arise, offer social support and a first point of contact for all circle members not engaged in offering or receiving paid, independent support

  • Regular short check-ins with a biennial sit-down and long chat

  • Engage in appreciation! Lots of it!

  • Help identify training and learning needs and offer reviews and evaluation

  • Provide references as appropriate

Spread the word

Share information about each circle’s activities amongst the membership and in the community.

  • Produce regular updates on activities and announce circle meetings through a variety of channels

  • Give short talks at social care groups, health and local volunteer organisations (with Equal Care Facilitator as appropriate)

  • Help circles plan for and put on community events

  • Regular posts on facebook and lots of tweeting

  • Help keep online circle forums active and up to date

Connect to (and shape) the formal support system

We want to connect community concerns to help leverage the formal funding system. Your viewpoint will be crucial to the way in which the co-operative designs and bids for contracted services in the area. 

  • Use the link to the circle to advocate for broader shifts in the system

  • Support the design of services Equal Care submits tenders for and review these with the circle

Nurture the membership

We are a co-operative, which means that our circle members also become business owners once they become eligible for membership. 

  • Welcome people to Equal Care and keep yourself updated of when they become eligible to join

  • Help ensure the diverse voices of the membership are heard and help to surface issues and concerns

  • Keep track of circle diversity and act to increase it (both in terms of perspectives e.g. family member, professional care worker and in terms of diverse backgrounds and protected characteristics)

  • Publicise wider membership events to the circles and support in organising members meetings in your area

Learn!

We are relying on your experience as circle community organiser to notice and draw out learning in our pilot year. We’ll need you to evaluate both your own role and the development of the circles with us and circle members. 

  • Record learning from successes as well as challenges

  • Notice and analyse key blockers

  • Deep analysis and evaluation of endings and beginnings (of the circle itself, with individual members joining and leaving)

  • Participate in reviews and evaluation, contribute to our knowledge bank with design ideas for the digital tools to facilitate the circle’s work

  • Help Equal Care Co-op understand its social impact

Offer your support

Emotional labour is often unrecognised and is often the most exhausting part of a job. Your emotional and compassionate engagement is an active part of the role  and so we’re including it in the job description. Emotional processing is work.

  • Provide emotional support to your colleagues and to circle members, with especial focus on those people not being paid for their contribution to the circle

  • Do your best to recognise and say when you need support yourself, understanding that this will fluctuate according to circumstances both in your personal and professional life

  • Act pragmatically on these rhythms, leaning on and sharing out work with colleagues at times when you need to step back and take a break from the deep, human engagement needed for this role

  • In order to keep a direct connection with the core work of Equal Care Co-op, at least 5% of your working hours will be giving support to someone getting social care (note this is not charged to people and is part of the co-operative’s voluntary offering)

Contribute to the design of Equal Care’s digital service
We're building technology that fits our purpose, our ethos and our goals. We can't do this without you.
  • Test out new versions built by our developers and contribute new / improvement ideas 
  • Feedback difficulties you and other people encounter
  • Participate in design and user testing days 
And finally, co-create your own role

This role is part of a pilot - we expect it to change both a little and a lot! We need you to help shape it.

  • The circle community organiser role is a crucial anchor role for developing genuine community-led care and support. We don't know yet which of your activities will be the one most crucial to the success of the circles and to the co-operative as a whole. Some will turn out not to be relevant. Some will turn out to be much bigger than we originally thought.

  • We expect a lot of the tools and processes you use and participate in your day-to-day work will change and evolve. We need your active participation in shaping these as we design them into the technology and the service.

What you're like

You are an experienced facilitator and have a deep understanding of group dynamics. You are an excellent communicator, able to adapt your approach to the situation and you work in an enabling way that focuses on and builds strengths. You have resolved conflict in groups before and the environments you support are inclusive, welcoming and people are able to get things done. You have a keen sense of social justice and you are very mindful of how underlying social, structural and economic inequities can drive behaviour.

You’re good at keeping records, spotting potential issues and recording what you learn. You are very community-minded and you prioritise direct voices of those experiencing an issue over other perspectives. You really enjoy feeling connected with diverse community networks and you speak to everyone!

(Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately recognise yourself in the description above. It is our experience that many people in caring or community roles are not so brilliant at seeing their own merits. If you struggle with this, get family and friends to read the paragraph above and they’ll see qualities you may have missed)

Your experience & qualifications

If you’ve had about 70% of these experiences that’s great, the rest can be learned (and we'll provide whichever training is the right fit for you). We haven't divided things into essential v desirable but if you can see only a few things that apply to you this may not be the right role for you right now.

Experience

It’s likely that you will have held roles such as or similar to Community Development Worker, Local Area Co-ordinator, Group Facilitator, Events Co-ordinator, Volunteer Manager, Training etcetera. Any jobs that cover bringing together and working with groups, supporting volunteers and helping people work together and get their voices heard fall within the scope of this role. 

Your experience will likely have been in community and co-operative development and may include activism or campaigning work that involves any organising with a group.

Although it would be a benefit to have had experience with alternate forms of decision-making (consent, consensus, sociocracy, worker co-op voting) this isn’t required for this role. We will train you in sociocratic ways of working and give you access to any skills development you need.

Qualifications 
There are no required qualification levels for this role - we will be focussing on the depth and breadth of your experience and this will take into account your areas of study as well. Evidence of a commitment to ongoing learning is a plus.

A 'typical' month (or two)...

This job will vary a lot! Writing a typical week proved difficult, so this is a typical month (or two).

You are working with a few local people keen to set up a circle in their area. These people form the first few members of the circle and the core steering group to get it up and running. They might be professional care workers, community volunteers or people and their families getting care and support. You arrange a meeting at a local venue to share experiences and start understanding what people want out of the proposed circle. This meeting is a combination of getting to know one another, talking about big picture aspirations and identifying practical next steps. 

With a mutual working purpose and a few initial meetings the group can publicise an open launch circle meeting (or workshop). You help with access to and use of the tools to do this, co-ordinating with your equal care colleagues to enable things like design and print of flyers, writing articles for local newsletters, booking a venue and talking to people and community groups who may be interested in coming along. You ‘top up’ the capacity in the core steering group by using the assets of the wider co-operative to help make it all happen. You lead on setting up the circle’s digital tools (including access to the circle budget) to enable collaboration and ensure that circle communication is mindful of people who have different needs and preferences.

You help the group plan, facilitate and learn from the launch, setting the agenda in collaboration with them. This includes developing and adapting a circle agreement between the wider co-operative adn amongst the circle members themselves. 

You arrange meetups with volunteers who have recently joined the circle to set up their profiles, explain how the matching works and carry out some background checks. Once this is complete you facilitate the first few matches with the equal care facilitator and any named circle members nominated to be involved. 

Meanwhile, a circle you helped launch in another area has run into difficulties and contacts you to help resolve the issue. There has been a personality clash and two circle members are in conflict. This has had an impact on circle meetings and the membership has dropped significantly since the issue began. 

You meet separately with both individuals to understand the concerns and establish what each person wants. Neither want to leave the circle and each person feels that they are more committed than the other. With help and advice from your equal care colleagues, you’re able to facilitate a meeting between them and achieve an agreement around how they relate to one another in circle meetings. You offer to co-facilitate the next few meetings, including providing a space to acknowledge the difficulties. You also do some work with other circle members to restore membership levels and get the circle back on track.