A Circle of Safety is a trauma-informed, survivor-centreed, collaborative approach to safety planning that brings together a survivor, service providers, and informal support networks to generate creative, holistic solutions for safety. Originally developed by Justice Options for Women in Prince Edward Island, Circles of Safety have had a significant positive impact on the lives of women who have participated.

From 2019-2024, Women’s Shelters Canada worked with Justice Options for Women, Piwapan Women’s Centre (La Ronge, SK), Peace River Regional Women’s Shelter (Peace River, AB), and Help and Hope for Families (Watson Lake, YT), to explore whether the Circles of Safety model would be a useful tool for shelters and survivors in rural, remote, Northern, and Indigenous communities.

The four-year project began with training for shelter staff from the participating communities. Once trained in the PEI model, shelter staff worked to adapt the Circles of Safety practice to the unique reality of each community while receiving ongoing support from Justice Options for Women Inc. and Women’s Shelters Canada.

Over the course of the project, the shelter teams determined that the full Circles of Safety model is not always realistic for the survivors they work with. However, they found that some of the foundational elements of the Circles of Safety process, such as the interest-based approach and working collaboratively with other service providers and supporters, have a significant impact and can be integrated across other aspects of shelter work.

To learn more about the Circles of Safety model and this project, check out the resources below: