The Circles® Campaign promotes the vision to end poverty by:
- Building intentional relationships across class and race lines including matching middle class allies with people living in poverty and working together on a plan to raise the family out of poverty.
- Identifying barriers that keep people in poverty
- Implementing innovative solutions such as creating a micro credit loans to meet transportation needs
- Creating effective partnerships to help families
- Changing the goals of the system to support families and economic change
Circles® initiatives have three primary goals:
- Invite the community to join the human service system in helping people out of poverty.
- Inspire and equip the community to eradicate poverty.
- Develop genuine and lasting relationships across socioeconomic class lines with an intention to
facilitate low-income people moving permanently out of poverty.
Everyone needs enough relationships, resources and reasons to thrive!
Lambton Circles Journey
In 2006 County of Lambton staff prepared a report about child poverty that reviewed various local socio-economic data including housing, income and child care. It was determined that 1.09 out of every six children (18.16%) in Sarnia-Lambton live below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO) for the area, consistent with the provincial average. The Child Poverty Task Force was formed in early 2007 to address this concern. The task force determined that the Circles® Initiative was the most appropriate model to address reducing child poverty in the County of Lambton.
Circle Leaders are required to complete a step-by- step, life-planning workbook, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’- By World, that explores the hidden rules of economic class and the impact poverty has had on their lives. Individuals examine their own lives, identify their individual needs and create new future stories. Participants complete a self-assessment, making plans to build supports and resources that will assist in reaching specific career, educational or employment goals.
Circle Allies are required to attend Circles® Ally training or Bridges Out of Poverty – Strategies for Professionals and Communities, a one-day workshop based on the innovative work of educator Dr. Ruby Payne, PhD which will help foster a deeper understanding of the challenges and strengths of people living in poverty. This training helps people from all economic classes to work together to create opportunities for success.
- Examines the impact of poverty on families
- Explores the hidden rules of economic class
- Identifies ways to improve relationships
- Develops new tools to better address individuals’ needs
In 2010 Lambton Circles® received the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association’s “Local Municipal Champion Award” as well as Lambton County’s “Warden’s Award of Excellence”.
The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services recognized the impact of Circles® as an intensive case management strategy and began to cost-share salaries through the Ontario Works program.
County Obtains Rights to Circles Initiative in Canada
The Corporation of the County of Lambton obtained full rights to the innovative Circles Canada initiative. The ownership agreement and transfer from Circles USA® built upon the County’s status as the National Recruitment and Training Site for the Circles Canada initiative.
As the owner of Circles Canada, the County gained full autonomy to enter into agreements with other Circles communities in Canada and provides training, support services and data systems to Circles initiatives across the country on a cost recovery basis. Circles® is a transformative community collaborative committed to the elimination of poverty by harnessing the power of a caring community working together.
The success of the Circles® Initiative is based on collaboration between middle-class volunteer mentors, known as “Allies” who are matched with low-income families and individuals experiencing poverty called “Leaders” – empowering terminology as they are “leading” their way out of poverty. Experienced staff called “Circles Coaches”, alongside a multitude of community partnerships which may include some of the following sectors; non-profit organizations, community colleges, adult educational and employment training agencies, public health and health centres, faith-based organizations, workforce development board, community members, criminal and social justice networks, all working together to support the Leaders goals and “plans of change” to increased education, career selection and sustainable employment in reaching their dreams.
Circles Canada continues to expand rapidly with current Canadian Circles Chapters in; The County of Lambton, County of Wellington, London, St. Thomas, County of Simcoe, Muskoka, Sudbury, Kingston, Oxford County and Circles® Canada first Indigenous chapter in Temiskaming.