Holly’s final stop on her Grapevine journey to independence

Holly and her adventure road map

29 August 2018.

Money. Health. Independence. Travel.

Community. Relationships. Friends. Support.

Each one an everyday word with an important meaning and a potentially big impact on a person’s life – in this case, Holly’s.

Holly and her adventure road map
Holly and her adventure road map

Six months ago, 20-year-old Holly from Coventry embarked on her adventure with Grapevine’s Help and Connect team. This adventure set Holly on a path to acquire the knowledge, skills and support networks to take care of herself and take up life’s opportunities.

The journey has seen Holly meet and complete challenges along the way to help build her confidence and expose her to new experiences outside of the family home where she previously spent much of her time.

She’s visited the city centre with Grapevine’s Naomi (and without her parents), getting to know the location of shops and the bus stop (plus somewhere to pick up a nice hot chocolate – see Adventure Holly!).

She then moved on to travelling to town solo to meet Naomi, buying a few items and staying for lunch. She followed this excursion up by sorting out her own bus pass application – even seeking supporting evidence for her application from her doctor and checking its weight and postage at the Post Office to make sure it reached its destination. She was flying!

Holly's adventure continues
Holly’s adventure continues…

Now she has accepted her final challenge… to meet her friend in town on a Saturday completely independently. This challenge is the one we were working towards all along because it was Holly’s idea of a ‘great day’ when we asked her what those words meant to her.

These building blocks will pave the way for a bright future where Holly can be independent and feel empowered to make her own choices.

To support this, Naomi and Holly have drawn up a ‘road map’ with reminders of how far she has come and some blank space for Holly to fill with her new goals and achievements.

Those everyday words at the start of this article all feature on her road map and we can’t wait to see what’s around the next turn for her.

Read Adventure Holly! And Adventure Holly – the sequel! for more information on how Holly has progressed over the last few months.

The Help and Connect project is for people with a learning disability who don’t use any formal services in Coventry and cuts across four strands – staying healthy, staying safe, getting work and building friendships, connections and support networks.

Find out more the current breadth of Grapevine’s work across systems, communities, families and individuals here.

Connecting for Good – the story so far

Jess from Connecting for Good tells her story to the crowd

14 August 2018.

Last week marked the start of our Connecting for Good movement against isolation in Coventry. It’s been a busy few days since then so we’re taking a moment to reflect on the day and capture some of the great feedback, news coverage and photos.

Click here to view the story so far on Wakelet. Read all about it in the Coventry Telegraph here!

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Wednesday and please look out for more news soon. To get involved, email Jess, Dom, Alice or Mel from the team.

New movement against isolation kicks off

Connecting for good heart on a branch

1 August 2018.

One week from today an inspiring city centre event heralds a new chapter for people in Coventry – including some with disabilities, job seekers, recent arrivals, new parents, young people and older people. All united by a common feeling of isolation.

The ‘Connecting for Good Walk & Talk’ on Wednesday 8 August aims to bring together individuals who are or have been isolated from society as well as the services which tackle the effects of isolation, such as Public Health.

With backing from the Big Lottery Fund to the tune of £500,000 over the next three years, Grapevine’s ‘Connecting for Good’ movement hopes to help at least 3,000 Coventry residents connect to others on a richer and more widespread level than ever before.

The movement is based on evidence that isolation makes people more vulnerable to abuse, cruelty and loneliness. It can also be linked to ill health as has been widely reported recently.

The movement approach has already proven effective as our Deputy CEO Mel explains in this video.

Mel herself experienced isolation as a single parent to her son Rishard, who also has Down’s syndrome. Rishard’s life nearly went down a very different path to the one he enjoys now as an established actor pursuing his dream of an independent life.

The first event starts from a bench on the bridge across the city’s ring road between Greyfriars Green and Coventry train station at 12 noon.

Participants will follow a mapped out route into the city, met along the way by thought-provoking story tellers and artistic performances about experiences of isolation.

The Walk & Talk will weave its way to a local eatery and from this event and many other planned activities, a movement will grow.

Connecting for Good’s vision of a ‘culture of connectedness’ also runs parallel to the city’s own aspirations for its year as UK City of Culture in 2021. In line with these aspirations, Connecting for Good seeks to bring people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to the celebrations through their new found networks and friendships – changing lives now and sustaining those changes well beyond 2021.

“Thought-provoking” plays demonstrate how to talk to families in need

Geese Theatre performing for Ignite Coventry

25 July 2018.

A troupe of actors have helped to highlight why some families in Coventry are needlessly living in poverty for an audience of the city’s social welfare practitioners.

The ‘First Meetings’ session was part of Coventry City Council’s Practice Week 2018 at the end of June which aimed to bring together Children’s and Adults Services teams for a week of learning, developing and challenging the way they do things.

Audience hands up
The audience getting involved

The session at Willenhall Social Club was put together by Ignite – a partnership formed by Grapevine and Central England Law Centre to demonstrate how vital first meetings are in creating lasting relationships that mean people or families can and will access ‘early help’.

Early help is support and services offered in the early stages of challenges or problems that families may face such as parenting, education, health or financial issues. The idea being that with early help, families overcome these problems, become stronger and no longer need ongoing support from services or reach crisis point.

Loosely based on real life cases, the performance focused on three stories exploring the kinds of problems families appear to have and the root causes which may lie beneath. Some causes are as preventable as mistakes in benefit payments, sanctions or missed opportunities to get financial support.

Audience watching
The performance focused thoughts on first meetings

Others situations will clearly be more multi-layered and complex but the golden thread running throughout is how the first interaction with a health, housing, education or social welfare professional can shape how help is offered and families’ enthusiasm to let the help in.

The ‘First Meetings’ actors were professionals supplied by Geese Theatre Company which specialises in interactive theatre, drama based group work, staff training and consultation services for the criminal justice system.

In feedback collated at the end of the “thought-provoking” and “inspirational” session, one participant commented it reminded them that “families are real people and their priorities are not always the same as ours.”

More than nine out of ten respondents agreed the session made them reflect on the importance of identifying people’s strengths as well as concerns.

The session also offered an opportunity to get to know and learn from other professionals, find out more about what services are out there and to reflect on the usefulness of creative thinking in finding answers.

It builds on work underway in Willenhall and city-wide through Ignite to raise awareness of the importance building good relationships early on and recognising poverty and its impact.

About Ignite

Central England Law Centre and Grapevine have formed ‘Ignite’ with the ambition of nurturing stronger communities in Willenhall who get early and effective help.

Our partners, Coventry City Council and WM Housing Group are using Ignite to learn how they can turn lives around and save money in the long run – changing how public services are delivered and needs met.

Ignite demonstrates how the public sector can partner with people and communities in new ways… acting earlier, building strengths and releasing capacity.

It’s a piece of cake!

Drill Project
Our young researchers have been busy this weekend.

They got messy with Naomi as they created a very special cake – each layer represented a different part of an Education, Health and Care Plan. Jam and curd? Their aspirations and outcomes. Cream? Support they might need. And the icing on the cake? Well that is what holds it all together!

The youngsters are working with Coventry University on DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning). They’re exploring the quality and usefulness of Education, Health and Care Plans for young disabled people and how they might be improved. 


With the perfect Plan baked they went over their fieldwork prep to make sure their research questions for professionals would enable them to really dig deep and ensure their rights are always considered.

If you would like to find out more click on the link

The Power of Narrative: From No Chance to Hell Yeah!

Hell Yeah!

Mel Smith and Kyla Craig were invited to deliver a lecture to Occupational Therapy Students at Coventry University yesterday.

They shared stories, challenged, invited students to think about why they are passionate about OT. They got students to sit alongside them on the podium to bridge the gap between speaker and audience.

There was finger snapping (alternative clapping) and cries of ‘hell yeah’ so we think it went well!