World Mental Health Day – Cathleen’s story of isolation

Older lady side view

10 October 2018.

#WorldMentalHealthDay2018

10 October marks the annual World Mental Health Day, when people and organisations everywhere raise awareness, show support and encourage others to take time to look after their mental wellbeing.

Cathleen's quote on loneliness

With a constant drip feed of news about the effects of loneliness and isolation on mental health – and ultimately physical health too – we are all more aware than ever of this unseen epidemic. Many also recognise that loneliness and isolation can affect any of us at any time.

We’re trying to help address the problem in Coventry through Connecting for Good – a movement of people who are or have been affected by social isolation in a myriad of different ways. The single parent, the refugee, the job seeker, the person with a disability or long term health condition, the new mother, the university student… The list has no limitations. None of us are immune.

So today on World Mental Health Day, we’re telling Cathleen’s story. Please take a couple of minutes to read it (thank you to Cathleen for sharing) and then perhaps contact our team. Their details are below and they’d love to hear from you!

“Often people pass you by like you’re just a shadow.

“If only they’d smile and say hello, you could smile back and give a moment.”

Cathleen is 87 and lives in rural Ireland. However, she is no stranger to Coventry. In fact, she moved here with her family in the 1950s at the age of 21, leaving her home in Dublin behind.

Having raised her family while Coventry was rebuilt from the ashes of the Second World War, Cathleen moved once again – this time to Northern Ireland in the 1990s to help her son care for two of her grandchildren.

The children grew up and then Cathleen’s husband passed away in 2015, leaving her living in the sleepy coastal town of Ballycastle with no real sense of purpose to each new day.

Grey house

From head of the household with four children – all grown up now with jobs as social workers, a nurse and a head teacher – Cathleen faces life with six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren living nearly 300 miles away in Coventry and the long distance lines of communication that come with it.

Her granddaughter Jo says: “Gran is not from the North… she is a Dubliner. She is a Catholic but surrounded by Protestant towns. She has no roots or connections in Ballycastle. She has her sewing group and my uncle does what he can but it breaks my heart to know she’s largely on her own.”

Although Cathleen is not in Coventry, Connecting for Good will still offer as much support as it can. Could you do the same closer to home for others like Cathleen? Or do you recognise yourself, a neighbour or relative in her story? If so, get in touch today:

Jess – jknight@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 07776 509204

Alice – agroux@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 07776 509206

Mel – msmith@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 02476 631040

For tips on everyday living and staying well, visit www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/world-mental-health-day

The #HelloYellow campaign also supports children and young people’s mental health on 10 October – for more information on this click here.

Connecting for Good is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

(Pictures are stock images, not of Cathleen or her home).

A ‘Big Plan’ for a beautiful life – and you can join in!

Big Plan group supporters

8 October 2018.

A group of young disabled people and their families are working together to design their ideal future upon leaving school, with a wider network of support that can help make it a reality.

Big Plan group supporters
Could you be a group supporter?

‘The Big Plan’ started last week with the first of 12 sessions running until just before Christmas.

Each young person attends six of these evening sessions – either opting to come to the Monday or Wednesday group each week – alongside their families, and friends in many cases.

The first half an hour of each session brings the group together to share food and get to know one another. The remaining two hours are dedicated to building their plans through fun, creative exercises which consider their future potential.

Putting everyone in a room together extends their family and friends network to include the other young people, their families and their friends – most of them going through very similar experiences in life at the same time.

But Grapevine wants to boost those numbers even further to include ‘group supporters’ – people not previously linked to the young people who can offer a listening ear, draw out their all-important ideas and above all ensure their voice is amplified throughout the process.

Group supporters need to be flexible in supporting them in whatever way is needed.

The Big Plan is coordinated by Teenvine – the youth branch of Grapevine – and funded by BBC Children in Need as a project to help young people of 18 years and younger overcome the effects of disadvantages they face.

Could you spare a couple of hours one evening each week over the next few weeks (last session runs on 17 December) to help guide these young people through a period of transition and see them emerge on the other side armed with a big plan for a beautiful life?

Sessions run at Backhaus & Co at FarGo Village in Coventry from 6pm – 8.30pm.

If so, please call Chloe, Coleman or Molly on 02476 631040 extension 113 or 106.

Alternatively, drop them a line by email at:

candrew@grapevinecovandwarks.org

ckerr@grapevinecovandwarks.org

mgillespie@grapevinecovandwarks.org

Please note the sessions have started – the sooner we hear from you the better.

Who feels lonely? BBC survey results revealed

2 October 2018.

Yesterday the BBC Radio 4 revealed the results of the world’s largest study on loneliness, in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection.

For the BBC, the Loneliness Experiment revealed nine key findings from 55,000 responses to the survey. For us, five of those seem the most important. Why? Well, firstly because we are starting a movement in Coventry called Connecting for Good.

Connecting for Good logo

It is funded with £500k from the Big Lottery Fund so that over the next three years we can create communities where people are truly connected to each other to end isolation. Our approach will put the emphasis on unlocking people’s capabilities to help themselves and those around them.

If you haven’t already heard about it, here are some quick links to get you up to speed:

Below is a two-minute video by BBC Radio 4 that captures the results of their Loneliness Experiment.


© copyright 2018 BBC

Secondly, the five findings that are particularly relevant at this stage of our Connecting for Good journey are:

  • Young people are the group who feel the loneliest – although young adulthood (16-24) can in retrospect be a lonely time of transition for most people and isn’t necessarily only as a result of the external forces of modern life.
  • People who feel discriminated against are most likely to feel lonely – this includes people with a disability or long term condition, some of the people we want to join our movement.
  • People feel ashamed about feeling lonely. We want to start conversations about isolation and loneliness so it is no longer taboo and we can talk about how to make it better.
  • People who feel lonely score higher on empathy. Being involved in Connecting for Good is protective. Everyone benefits. Everyone contributes. Everyone cares because they understand what loneliness feels like.
  • People who say they often feel lonely report poorer health. Public Health is closely involved in our movement and health is one of the main reasons behind our successful funding bid.

Get in touch to get involved with #connectingforgood:

Jess – jknight@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 07776 509204

Alice – agroux@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 07776 509206

Mel – msmith@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 02476 631040

One year on from first CYA session

CYA celebrates first anniversary

1 October 2018.

This week marks one year since the first Coventry Youth Activists (CYA) session at Grapevine.

CYA at the Godiva Festival
CYA at the Godiva Festival

If you don’t already know, CYA is a youth democracy and citizenship group that raises awareness of barriers in society faced by young disabled people – galvanising their response as a campaigns group.

In just one year, they have grown eight times in size, put on five major events – including appearing at Coventry’s Godiva Festival for the first time this year – and spread the word further with four appearances on local radio. Over 400 people follow their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Their latest campaign is reducing the statistic that one in three young disabled people spend less than an hour outside their family home on a Saturday, often restricted by access to public transport and concerns over going out alone.

The first step for #CYASaturdays was holding an open Ideas Factory at Coventry city centre’s Herbert Art Gallery in September, where 26 people came up with six ideas to start tackling this issue.

CYA Ideas Factory
The CYA Ideas Factory

The ideas – to be revealed during course of the campaign – included planning a trip to a gig together on, you guessed it, a Saturday.

The group also shared stories and came up with words associated with what a young person’s life should look like.

Words like “vibrant”, “well-lived”, “fulfilling”, “care-free” and “full” will now be added to the giant C, Y and A doodled by artists Melissa and Alan at CYA’s recent successful appearance at the Godiva Festival.

Here’s to another great year of “when I say C, you say Y, A!”

People need people – here’s how we’re making this happen

Connecting for Good Ideas Factory

19 September 2018.

The first Connecting for Good Ideas Factory took place on Friday 14 September at FarGo Village market place in Coventry.

The Ideas Factory brought together a group of around 40 people who care about how social isolation affects all kinds of people in the city and want to end it for good. It is in simple terms an informal meeting where your idea can make friends.

It was all captured on film by our friend Jonny Rhodes.

Isolation is affecting us all and we need your help. The time to take action is now.

Could you be a change maker? There’s lots of ways to get involved – get in touch and we’ll tell you how.

People need people.

The #ConnectingforGood anti-isolation movement is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Jess – jknight@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 07776 509204

Alice – agroux@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 07776 509206

Mel – msmith@grapevinecovandwarks.org / 02476 631040

It’s not a movement if it doesn’t move without you…

14 September 2018.

It's not a movement if it doesn't move without you

At Grapevine, we don’t think of ourselves as providers of ‘social care’ or that we are a social care organisation.

If we aren’t these things, then what are we?

Grapevine CEO Clare Wightman explains: “We aid people and communities to find a voice, organise, advocate for shared interests, and bring about change.”

To read on, please click this link to her latest post on the Social Care Future blog – an informal, volunteer-run platform for people wishing to bring about major positive change in ‘social care’.

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.

We did it! Atherstone group wins community impact award

11 June 2018.

Members of Grapevine’s Atherstone Speaking Up group have won an award for their contribution to the community in North Warwickshire.

Award winners!

It was presented at the inaugural Volunteer Awards Evening 2018 held at Arley and St Michael’s Community Centre in Gun Hill, Arley last Wednesday (6 June).

The ceremony was organised by Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action (WCAVA), Warwickshire County Council and North Warwickshire Borough Council to celebrate and say thank you for the huge impact volunteers have on the lives of so many people living in the borough – all in their own time.

This impact includes improvements to the safety, wellbeing and quality of life of local communities.

Members of the Speaking Up group were delighted with their win – as you can see from the photograph!

The group is run by Grapevine on a monthly basis but is largely driven by its members who work on projects and campaigns all year round, even sitting at board level to have their say about big decisions on local services.

Atherstone Speaking Up is one of several similar groups for people with learning disabilities also taking place each month in Nuneaton, Rugby, Stratford and Leamington – spreading opportunities and influence far and wide across Warwickshire in partnership with Warwickshire County Council.

Amongst other things, the groups also get involved in the design of new public places so they are accessible to learning disabled people – such as the recently unveiled creative space at Nuneaton Library.

Other awards presented at the event included Long Service, Health and Wellbeing and Unsung Hero – both for individuals and groups. Four Special Recognition Awards were also handed out.

For more information on volunteering, visit WCAVA’s website.

50 feel good ideas emerge from Factory meet up!

24 April 2018.

Last week’s Ideas Factory Cov was a great success!

Over 50 ideas were generated

30 people from our Feel Good Community came along to Fargo Village in Coventry last Tuesday evening (17 April) to help generate new ideas and projects to keep the group busy, creative and positive.

And from a total of 50 creative concepts put forward at the event hosted inside local bakery and café bar Backhaus & Co, three main ideas emerged as the most popular and doable. They were:

  • Themed monthly meet ups
  • Another Feel Good Festival / Createathon
  • A new campaign to get Feel Good voices heard more widely

There were also several kind offers of possible venues for the events.

The next step is to develop these ideas over the coming weeks. Look out for updates on our website and on Facebook @FeelGoodCommunity.

NEW WEBSITE!

The Feel Good Community promotes health and wellbeing through creativity and social action. Anyone can join in but particularly those with a long-term health condition who want to be part of a like-minded community and to feel good.

Visit their new website at feelgoodcom.org

Join the #FeelGoodAmbassadors Facebook group here.