We’re a resourceful charity working in tough situations

What we do

Grapevine helps all kinds of people experiencing isolation, poverty and disadvantage to build better lives.

We do it by offering practical person-centred guidance, advocacy and support.

We help them get the hope, insight and supportive relationships they need to take control, turn their lives around and realise their potential.

Using practical tools and training we also help people build their collective power to tackle the problems they’re facing. We help them spark and sustain movements for change.

But we don’t stop there.

We want to get at root causes of problems that won’t go way – not just treat the symptoms. We do that by working with systems and services like the NHS and local authorities to see how together we can understand and tackle the real problem – for good.

We’ve 30 staff working on 10 projects. You can see latest news about all our work on the What’s New page.

Our values

We’re brave, creative and passionate about our work because we know that working this way can give new life.

  • Connections matter – services can’t always be there, but other people can. Many people facing difficult times don’t have the support of strong networks – Grapevine helps people find and develop networks of positive relationships.
  • Everyone has something to offer – Grapevine can help people find others who will welcome their contribution. Often people are stigmatised, labelled and just seen as having needs – that’s wrong.
  • A good life is a life that grows and changes –  too many people live on the edge of coping and never open up their prospects of a better life. Grapevine can help people realise their potential.
  • We all need the chance to learn from our mistakes – we have to stick with people even when that’s hard. We also have to think about how we as staff need to change as well so that we can get it right.
  • Too often paid professionals think they know what’s best. But at Grapevine we support work that is led, shaped and shared by the people it is ‘for’.
  • We value passion. We believe in what we do and we believe in what other people can do. We bring a dynamic flexibility and a belief in the ability of communities and individuals to thrive.


“The movement we’ve seen in Coventry is revolutionising public health. We can’t wait to see what Grapevine do next!”

The Social Change Agency, June 2017

“After attending a fabulous Innovation Factory Training, I felt motivated…I found it very difficult, but I found my story.”

Ju Walton-Evans, Feb 2017

“I would highly rate Grapevine which is why I am currently in my fourth year contracting with them to deliver “Independent Support” on behalf of the Department of Education. They have developed and trailed new ways of working with families and young people where the outcomes have built confidence and resilience. The Grapevine approach has also been showcased by government as exemplary practice.”

Martin Bull, Assistant Director and Independent Support programme manager, National Children’s Bureau June 2017

“Grapevine builds on the strengths, networks and family support people already have, to help them change their own lives.”

Lisa Nandy MP, then Shadow Minister for Civil Society, Guardian Newspaper February 2014

“The kids make friends between themselves, that never happens. Normally they’re only ever brought together when the services want to give them the same treatment, like anger management or something. You don’t make friends like that.”

Parents of special school pupils on ‘Wave Rave’.

“Grapevine is a dynamic and innovative small organisation which works with an obvious passion for its service users and communities.  It has shown excellent standards in all areas.”

Kevin Smith, Quality assessor from NCVO 2015

“What is outstanding about Grapevine and the team is that they deliver over and above the contracts expectations and have a really healthy attitude to partnership engagement and working across health and social care and wider community and work at breaking down barriers and promoting integration, which is entirely the approach we endorse at NHS England.”

Ranjit Senghera, Senior Manager Equalities and Health Inequalities and National Lead for Inclusion Health. NHS England, 2014

“The Primary Care Awareness session was a massive success. The evaluations are fantastic. There were so many positive comments about Grapevine. One of the best thing about your support is that so many people who attend have said they are going to change the way they do things back at their GP Practice.”

Health Specialist Nurse, Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership Trust Learning Disability Service 2017

“Since her hate crime assault Sarah said ‘I needed some support to know what to do. I was scared and stopped going places.’ Since attending sessions she feels safe to go out again, meet new people and has the skills to cope.  “I’m now confident and understand more about hate crime and what to do if it happened again.”

Our People

Clare Wightman is founding CEO and it is she who has put relationships at the heart of Grapevine’s work.

In the last 5 years she’s led Grapevine through a significant transition in its identity and purpose. It’s gone from being a charity with a single client group to one with a new constitution, a fresh purpose and vision and a new strategic plan.

Grapevine now helps all kinds of people experiencing isolation, poverty and disadvantage to build better lives.

She is a Systems Change coach with Lankelly Chase Foundation. She is also a  mentee with the international Social Change Initiative. She advises the Sheila McKechnie Foundation Social Change Programme as part of its national panel.

Clare’s particular interest is working in a way that develops and connects networks of local people for mutual help and support.

Mel Smith is Deputy CEO and like Clare, values the need for relationships to be at the heart of what we do.

For Mel, transformational change is all about the untapped power of people, connections and networks. That was the resounding message she took from her first encounter with Grapevine as a service user alongside her disabled actor son, Rishard.

Since joining Grapevine’s team  five years ago she has led on our work to understand how to build movements for change. She is an experienced Community Organiser and an FRSA, recognised for her work around Health as a Social Movement. Mel is particularly interested in how movements meet systems.

Mel loves open water swimming. Swimming the channel recently was much like systems change: navigating the unknown and being taken off track by unexpected currents, but relishing the sometimes calm waters as a time for reflection.