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Mennonite Central Committee Alberta CoSA (Volunteer Position: Support and Accountability Worker)Organization Name: Mennonite Central Committee Alberta CoSA
Opportunity Title: Volunteer Position: Support and Accountability Worker
Category: Social and Community Service
Commitment: 6 months to 1 year, Ongoing Opportunity (> 1 year)
Start Date: March 1, 2021
End Date: March 31, 2022
- Background/police check required
- Appropriate for volunteers aged between 18 and 55
- Appropriate for volunteers aged 55 and over
- Training or orientation required
Are you a mature, empathetic person with a heart to contribute to safer communities by accompanying people who want to change their lives for the better? 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. 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; believers 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!
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