The Circles of Protection project supports isolated, highly vulnerable people with learning disabilities who live outside their home borough of Islington.

Commissioned by London Borough of Islington, the project provides a bespoke service that is time intensive and genuinely person-centred.

The exposure of Winterbourne View showed the potential for the abuse of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and mental health needs, who are isolated from communities. People placed in residential homes outside the borough with statutory responsibility are particularly vulnerable, as they often have complex needs and may be challenging to work with; they frequently have no family involvement, and are placed in rural areas, where no one regularly goes into the service, except the staff.  We now recognise that the isolation of these services fostered the environment that enabled the abuse to take place.

The Circle of Protection project addresses the isolation of particularly vulnerable people with learning disabilities, by pairing them with local volunteers who regularly visit them in their home. The intention is two-fold: to safeguard the service user against abuse, by being their ‘eyes and ears and voice’, and to enhance the quality of the service user’s life by offering a relationship that is prompted by interest, concern and personal connection, not defined by a paid role.