H Team brings learning disability to life for trainee social workers

The H Team

15 January 2019.

The next generation of social workers from Coventry University have been getting an insight into people with a learning disability directly from the very people who know the most about it!

Grapevine’s Sam and a core group of people with different learning disabilities who make up the H Team visited the university last month for the innovative session.

The H Team
Here come the H Team!

The ‘H’ stands for Health and that is what the team is all about – educating peers, professionals and services alike on how to stay healthy and well when you have a learning disability.

This advice and training is vital for a section of the community proven to have generally poorer physical and mental health and a significantly lower life expectancy than the rest of the population.

But it wouldn’t be this way if there was greater uptake on annual health checks with GPs, promptly diagnosed health conditions, effective treatment and more informed self care.

And improvements can always be made in the way health and social care professionals communicate with people with a learning disability – hence the need for some interesting training right at the beginning of a career in social work.

During the Coventry University awareness session, students were able to get to know the seven members of the H Team, each one with his or her own unique story, likes and dislikes.

Games and quizzes helped break down any barriers, including one called ‘Scaredy Pants’ where the students wrote their fears on paper pants hung on a make-shift washing line.

Each fear was examined with H Team participants giving students advice and strategies to help overcome them. Some fears were even reflected on both sides – for example, a fear of communicating in a way that was not understood or misinterpreted. The students didn’t want to make a person uncomfortable and the H Team didn’t want to appear ‘stupid’ for not understanding.

The ‘New Perspective’ game then sees society’s labels discarded on the floor and ‘Mum’ or ‘Activist’ (and many others) used instead. Team members said they are not defined by their disability.

By the end of the session, the students and H Team were working together to develop an assessment tool that would equip professionals to phrase questions in different ways and encourage them to consider individuals holistically, particularly including their mental health. Social prescribing and making community connections may be things not previously considered for example.

“We got great feedback,” Sam said. “The students loved the session – having the H Team there to talk to them and give them advice was better than any pen exercise! It was learning through a first-hand experience that they will always remember.”

H Team sessions like this continue on a regular basis throughout the year and the H Team is always looking for new members to bring diversity and knowledge to their group.

If this could be you or someone you know, please call Sam on 02476 631040 extension 112 or email skeoghcollins@grapevinecovandwarks.org

Farewell 2018! You’ve been great…

Farewell 2018!

19 December 2018.

Our final post of 2018. And what a year it has been.

We’ve sparked new movements of people who care about an issue – Connecting for Good (isolation) and Self Care Social (long term health conditions/self care) – and grown existing ones with Feel Good Community.

Longer term projects such as Help and Connect and Better Lives have gone from strength to strength, building the capacity of individuals and families to lead the lives they want and deserve.

Accelerate continues to help people with a learning disability or autism find secure, paid work.

System change in Willenhall through the Ignite partnership with Central England Law Centre has made tangible in-roads into nurturing strong communities who get early and effective help when they need it.

And the young people involved in Teenvine Plus and Coventry Youth Activists have progressed in leaps and bounds throughout the year with – amongst other things – appearances on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio, a performance at the Godiva Festival and a weekend away to see a gig in Brighton! Phenomenal.

The Big Plan is helping young people, alongside their families and friends, to think creatively about and plan for the life that they want after school.

Plus our involvement in Warwickshire is expanding from Warwickshire Empowerment Service with the new Community Powered Advocacy service, aimed at people with a ‘vulnerability’ not receiving services from social care.

Not to mention our CEO Clare Wightman travelling the length and breadth of the country making sure we’re at all the right tables for change.

There is also some exciting news coming in January on two more new projects. Fingers crossed it is all we hope for.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year from everyone at Grapevine.

A week in the life of Grapevine

a week in the life of

27 November 2018.

Dear Diary, it’s been a busy week!

So to catch you up here’s a quick round up of the different things happening at Grapevine in the last seven days! Just the tip of the iceberg really…

Monday 19 November

Teenvine Plus Manager Chloe travelled to London with the Coventry Youth Partnership to attend the UK Youth Awards.

Alongside other local organisations including Positive Youth Foundation (PYF), Coventry Girls and Boys Club and C O Visions, Chloe met Princess Anne.

Chloe and Princess Anne
Chloe is second from left, next to Rashid Bayat from PYF

Tuesday 20 November

Kyla from the Better Lives project joined Coventry City Council engagement staff for a training day on ‘Co-Production in Public Engagement and Consultation Principles and Practices.’

Grapevine was offered a place on the course as one of the council’s community partners and Kyla can now share what she learned with the rest of the team.

Kyla training course


Wednesday 21 November

Project worker Molly from Teenvine Plus and Warwickshire Empowerment Service has started collecting Christmas shoe boxes to donate to Coventry Open Christmas – a project that provides shelter and food each year to the homeless and lonely over the festive period.

Each shoebox (or alternative small cardboard box) can contain items such as toiletries, sweets, hats and gloves – basically anything that might help someone feel a little brighter on Christmas morning. Click the link above if you’re interested in joining in.


Thursday 22 November

Help and Connect’s Michelle finished making her first knitted blanket for premature babies born at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire.

The weekly handicraft group at Bell Green Library taught her how – next on the list are tiny cardigans! Join in each Thursday from 10am – 12 noon (50p for tea/coffee). Michelle attends so she can make connections for people with a learning disability in Coventry who don’t use formal services.

Michelle baby blanket


Local photographer and friend of Grapevine Alan Van Wijgerden released another of his 50 one-minute films of Coventry people talking about what they’re up to – this time featuring Grapevine’s Melissa!

See what she has to say about how her health problems set her on a path to combining creativity and bringing people together in the shape of Feel Good Community.


Friday 23 November

Teenvine Plus and Coventry Youth Activists posted pics of their evening out on Thursday to Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market – looks like they had a ‘fantastisch’ time!

Aged 13 to 18 and passionate about fighting for disabled people’s right to a good life? Contact the team at admin@grapevinecovandwarks.org

Read what Stay Up Late had to say about CYA’s recent stay to Brighton here.

Teenvine at German Market


Monday 26 November

Act Build Change founder Steph Leonard (and regular Grapevine trainer) is visiting to shadow and advise on our work on anti-isolation movement Connecting for Good – look out for a new video coming out very soon featuring one of the people we’ve met.

It is also the first day of a full team (Ben, Alex and Helena) working on the new Community Powered Advocacy service in Warwickshire.

This fresh and innovative service is aimed at helping people with a ‘vulnerability’ overcome their immediate problems, build their capacity to speak up for themselves and connect them to other people in their community. Watch this space as the team start connecting with other services and the people they are there to help.

Looking forward to seeing what the rest of this week might bring.

GV x

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!”

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.

On your marks, get set, create! Digital space launches at local library

16 May 2018.

Nuneaton Library officially opened its first Let’s Make Space this week and our Warwickshire Empowerment Service team was there to join in the fun.

3D printing, virtual reality, robots, a theatrical performance and celebratory cake combined to make an enjoyable launch for everyone involved.

The new Let’s Make Space at Nuneaton Library

Let’s Make Spaces will sit within Nuneaton and Rugby libraries – the latter also opening very soon – offering people of all ages the opportunity to discover new technologies together and learn how to use their digital skills in exciting, innovative ways.

People with learning disabilities from our Warwickshire service helped the County Council design Nuneaton’s creative space so that more people from different walks of life can make full use of the free facility.

It is hoped the project will get more young people interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) and start to build skills that could help their future job prospects in these areas.

This partnership between Grapevine and Warwickshire successfully connected people with learning disabilities to a local service they might not otherwise have used and has also provided them with the chance to contribute to its design, guaranteeing equal access (and enjoyment!) for everyone.

Find out more about the Let’s Make Spaces here.

Images from Warwickshire County Council.

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.

International Women’s Day

International Women's Day 2018
International Women’s Day takes place every year on March 8th.

Take a look at events planned. Keep up to date with what is happening on the International Women’s Day – Nuneaton and Bedworth Face Book Page. 

Every one got the chance to share their thoughts on what would make an amazing local Day through Ideas Factories organised by our own Dawn Nicholls. More importantly people pledged their support to help make it happen!

#CYAonthesofa Success

#CYAonthesofa
Disability FactOver a 1/4 of people with disabilities don’t have control over their own lives. They have fewer friends, less paid work and society can have lower expectations of what they are able to do.

The Coventry Youth Activists wanted to get their voices heard in a fun and engaging way. So what could be better then to capture people’s thoughts on a sofa ‘crowd-sourced’ with the help of our friends at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire?

Last week they turned Grapevine HQ into a production line for their event…T-shirts, banners,  and the sofa were branded with their colours.

On Tuesday 20th Feb they shared their message with Coventry. People listened and more importantly joined in. Afterwards they rewarded themselves with ice cream – the perfect end to a busy day of campaigning!

Campaigners after a busy day

 

Atherstone Speaking Up Group

Speaking Up Group
Atherstone Speaking Up group visited Atherstone Leisure Centre

They met with Peter Wheaton, Leisure Facilities Manager for North Warwickshire Borough Council, and some of the team.

Some of the group are regular users of the gym so gave Peter some feedback about what’s great about it, like friendly staff. But some of the group had not been in before and they explained their reasons – not being able to see signs about what’s on offer, for example.

They really enjoyed their time and felt that it helped Peter and the team to understand how to improve the service for everyone.

       Peter said ” The outcomes from the session will enhance the more general experience for the whole community which is a real positive outcome”.