Finding a facilitator

The Jones family and their circle took on the task of finding a facilitator very enthusiastically.  Pave the Way led them through a discussion about what skills and qualities are best for the role and prompted the family to think about what some of their own criteria might be.  The family was pretty certain that their daughter would feel more comfortable if a female facilitated the meetings and perhaps someone who had some knowledge of disability or work experience in the disability sector. Armed with this information each member of the circle left the meeting thinking about potential facilitators in their networks.  One of the members thought their own daughter might be suitable.  But as she lived a long distance from where the meetings took place they decided that in the long run it probably would not be sustainable for her to travel such a long way each month. This gave the family a new criterion, to look more locally. 

There were a number of local leads that other circle member pursued but for one reason or another they did not pan out.  One of the circle members eventually approached the minister’s wife from the church they attended.  It was the minister’s wife who recommended Hazel, a retired nurse who lives in the same neighborhood as the family.  It turns out that the world is very small indeed.  Hazel is the sister of the family’s long term neighbor when they lived in Townsville many years ago.  Hazel remembers having met Allison once or twice while visiting her sister in Townsville.  It was quite extraordinary that Hazel now lives near the family in Brisbane.  It is as though they were destined to be in one another’s lives.

The following story recounts Hazel’s decision to be involved with Allison’s support circle.


How were you approached Hazel?

The minister’s wife rang me and gave a very brief outline of a support circle and asked if I would be interested in the role. I said I would be interested in looking into what was required and later that same morning (very quickly!) Lesleigh rang me. It was only then when speaking to Lesleigh that I realised who the Jones family was, and that I had met their daughter when she was a young girl.  


Why did you say yes?

The time was right as I wanted to give of myself to something worth while. My sister had been very fond of this family and I thought it an honour that they should consider me.


What attracted you to the role?

I knew it would be a challenge for me and would stretch me, but I believe that is healthy even if a little frightening!  When I thought of such families in an empathetic way, I loved the concept of a “support circle”. I was keen to take on the role because I could see a real benefit in being in the support circle and ensuring everyone is heard and understood and that the family’s and the person’s vision is embraced by the whole circle. I knew that if I needed support myself it was readily available from Pave the Way.  This was invaluable because I was unsure of myself as we started out.


What experience did you bring to the role?

I had been involved in growth groups in church circles and had facilitated a “Careforce Ministry” group. I had facilitated a bereavement help group and workshop. However this was a sticking point for me as I was very aware of my lack of official qualification. Once I and the group accepted that I was not the leader or the expert, but that my role was to facilitate then the pressure I had put myself under was relieved.


Had you heard about the concept of support circles before?

I hadn’t heard of support circles at all. The concept filled me with enthusiasm.  However I must admit that I would never had thought of putting myself forward to facilitate a group if I was not asked.  I am glad to have this experience and to be able to get to know the delightful young lady at the centre of the Jones’ family support circle.