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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This Friday (1 June) our Grapevine CEO Clare Wightman takes to the stage again to talk about Grapevine’s ongoing work across Coventry and Warwickshire – this time at the Inclusion International World Congress in Birmingham.
This 17th World Congress takes place over three days (30 May – 1 June), bringing together people and organisations from all over the world to influence how inclusion can become a reality for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
The event, held at the International Convention Centre, will be a forum for self-advocates, families and professionals to learn from and inspire one another to achieve this mutual aim.
Clare’s topic on the event’s final day ‘Inclusive cities’, examines how people, families and organisations can form civic partnerships – working with political and professional leaders to make our cities better for everyone.
Here is an excerpt of the paper Clare will present for the first time at this event, co-written with Lucie Stephens and David Towell.
The ‘Cities for all’ research paper* includes an interesting and accurate reflection of part of Grapevine’s current work with learning disabled people. It was originally founded in 1994 as a project to offer a drop-in centre for people with intellectual disabilities.
If you would like to know more, read on!
Cities for all: Disabled people as partners in making our towns and cities better for everyone
“Put at its simplest, Grapevine is a team, at the heart of local communities, working to change things so that those at most risk of exclusion can help make their community a better, fairer and more welcoming place for everyone.”
“…Today we work with many others facing disadvantage: young people, migrants, families in crisis and many groups of disabled people and their families.
“…If people can get the resources they need and can make the best use of public services, then they can shape their own lives. At different stages of finding their own paths to community, people may need different kinds of support, all of which we try to make available. We characterise the main kinds of support as:
Partnership – Some people need someone along with them on the journey, at least for a while, to keep them strong and hopeful.
Preparation – Some people need help to prepare for personal change and transition, to get inspiration, support to plan or practical assistance.
Self-direction – Some people just need to access information and networks to find the right resources for themselves and their families.
“…Over [this] 20 years at Grapevine, citizen advocacy has become community advocacy. This is not just because the community is itself critical to every person’s ability to lead a valued life. It is also because the community needs these different voices and experiences in order to become fully itself.
“The goal is not just that the individual becomes part of the community; the goal is that the community becomes more truly what it should be, a place that welcomes, supports, and is in turn nourished by, all of its members.”
*Click here to read the full paper in the Centre for Welfare Reform’s library.
For more information about the Inclusion International World Congress click here.
Tim Jacques wants to start a conversation about how we work with dads.
‘The first time we met, Neal was leaning on the gate to our allotment project with a mate. He stank of weed and, hands down trousers, weighed me up through half open eyes.
My choice was clear: faced with a man like Neal – the depth of the chaos, the ‘hardness’ – do I try to go deep or do I stay on the surface? Am I ready for how much he will share and how much he will need from me?
I chose to become a constant in Neal’s life, a safe place where he was free from judgment.
He showed me a life with very little room for love or compassion. I saw not an angry and intimidating man but a scared little boy who had been through the care system himself, whose own feelings and experiences were controlling how he was now.
As the allotment project and our relationship unfolded a core group of men emerged that formed the Goodfather, an action group coming together to raise funds and plan camping trips for other dads on the estate.
I began to see facets of his character that he kept hidden. His capacity for mental arithmetic was staggering. He could plan and organise the logistics of taking seventy dads and children camping for the weekend with ease.
Resolving issues with dads like Neal can feel like untangling a kite string. You manage to untie a really big knot then something happens and it’s just as knotted as it was before. At the time it’s daunting, intimidating, seemingly chaotic.
Fathers like Neal experienced deep trauma in their childhoods and then go on to raise their own children often repeating the same mistakes. It’s a cycle that’s difficult to break and all too often services focus on the symptoms – the dirty house, chaotic life styles, the substance misuse.
We need to design new ways to be with dads and to help them. I want to discover what it would take for us to work alongside them consistently for much longer periods of time, building relationships that are based on honesty, trust and openness where Dads feel safe enough to ask for the help they really need.
Andrea and Claire have shared their near win story and their fab photos from yesterday’s Connecting Parents meet up. Organised by one of the parents they got their heads down, just missing out on claiming the full house prize with unlucky number 39! They enjoyed it so much they will be making this a regular event. Key an eye out on their Face Book page for details
Assessment and support procedures for disabled adults, including those transitioning into adulthood: Friday 22nd September at Grapevine
The latest session run by Central England Law Centre Rights In Public Law Education project is on Friday 22nd September. RIPLE helps groups of people who need health and/or social care services know their rights.
Kyla from Grapevine is helping their solicitor Emma to run group sessions for people with learning disabilities and their families. So far they have focused on rights of those aged 14 and over to Annual Health Checks. The call to action from this session was to make contact with your GP to check if they are signed up to deliver Learning Disability Health checks and to confirm that their family member/person they care for is on the Learning Disability register.