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

Community and opportunity on the up for people in Willenhall

Wood Side Family Hub

28 September 2018.

Sitting across the table from John Toman and Ravinder Dhadda, it is easy to get a strong sense of the time and energy they are committing to making the Ignite partnership a success.

John is the team leader of four Grapevine ‘connectors’ – himself included – and Ravinder, or Rav as she prefers to be called, is a legal advisor for Central England Law Centre. All are based primarily at Wood Side Family Hub – a Coventry City Council community facility in the heart of Willenhall.

John Toman from Ignite

Combining a constant flow of ‘connecting’ work with sound legal advice for local people since Ignite launched two years ago this month, John, Rav and the rest of the team are really starting to reap the rewards of their joint efforts, agreeing that this summer has been “the best six weeks so far”.

Those six weeks have seen Ignite trawling local primary school lost property stores for forgotten items of uniform and returning them to a clean, ready to be re-loved state with the use of the hub’s washing machine.

Local families coming to the usual Wednesday hub grub club (more on this later) were able to browse the collection and take whatever they needed – without having to come to a dedicated event and perhaps feel a little embarrassed about it.

The good will was subsequently returned when Mums and Dads who’d claimed items for their families, brought back their own outgrown uniforms for other parents to take home too.

Ravinder Dhadda from Ignite

Rav said: “There’s no stigma attached to needing larger-sized uniform all the time – children grow at a rapid rate – but sometimes people feel it anyway.

“Putting the clothing rail out at an event that was already happening allowed parents to take a look through, chat to their neighbours and experience a real sense of community with immediate effect.”

In fact, the uniform swap was such a success that next year John and Rav hope local groups such as Women of Willenhall (WoW) will take the helm, working with the community’s four primary schools and one another to keep it going.

“The hub had previously been seen as a ‘provider of needs’,” says John.

“But Ignite is showing how public services can partner with communities in new ways and as a result, people become more open to receiving help when they need it.”

Recently, that help has also included the aforementioned hub grub club to combat some of the ‘holiday hunger’ experienced by low income families feeding children all day during school holidays. This can often mean a choice between buying food and paying rent.

Some funding for the club came via the city council from national food poverty charity Feeding Britain and more came from direct food donations from the community.

The work complements existing help for families coming from St. John the Divine Church in Robin Hood Road and Midland Langer Service which provides basic food for communal settings in three Coventry temples.

Midland Langer Service has been bringing food to the Family Hub each week – creating a ‘takeaway’ style feel to Wednesday evenings where local people can socialise and enjoy a hot meal together.

Many children in Willenhall don’t have holidays away from home either, putting added pressure on parents to keep them entertained out of school. The Family Hub offers an outlet for this with an outdoor play area plus parties and workshops designed and delivered by groups such as Friends of Wood Side which was started up spontaneously by some local Mums.

During term time there’s a homework club on a Monday run by a local teenager.

These activities are just the tip of iceberg for the Ignite experiment, which has another two years left to run – with the hope of leaving a lasting legacy in Willenhall where public services act earlier, build community strength and release their capacity to solve many of their own problems as they arise.

The Ignite Partnership has its own dedicated website at www.cnccoventry.org.uk

Follow their activities and updates on Twitter @CoventryIgnite

Find out more about Coventry’s family hubs here.

“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.

Looking for work? Need support?

Accelerate your journey into work
Coleman has started working alongside Alex on the Accelerate team. That means we can now help more people wanting paid work.
If you or someone you know could benefit then send Coleman an email or give him a call: ckerr@grapevinecovandwarks.org 024 7663 1040
“Accelerate is a free employment support service that can build your confidence, give you training, improve your skills and provide valuable work experience – all geared towards helping you find a job that suits you.
We specialise in supporting people who would like to work but for various reasons find it hard to get a job and enjoy all the benefits that employment brings. We offer practical help to deal with problems that have been holding you back including covering the costs of childcare and subsidised travel while you’re accessing our service.
Accelerate is a partnership of 23 local organisations providing co-ordinated employment support to people who are at a disadvantage when looking for work.
Our partnership includes training providers, charities, housing associations, disability support, women’s only services, wellbeing and mental health organisations, enterprise start-up, childcare providers, local authorities, community radio and employer networks.
Project Aims
* Helping those furthest from the labour market towards and into employment
* Providing the means through which disadvantaged people become job ready
* Assisting participants to access learning, training and job opportunities
* Enabling participants to overcome barriers to employment
* Supporting those with complex barriers move closer to employment
* Providing holistic support including financial inclusion, employment skills and basic skills
* Targeted, flexible and individualised support
* Connection across the partnership
* Geographically accessible
* Connected partnership, ensuring participants access full range of services
Key target groups:
People who are unemployed or economically inactive including  but not limited to:
* Lone parents
* Non-custodial offenders/ex-offenders
* People with physical and mental ill health
* BAME communities
* People with substance misuse issues
* People needing basic literacy and numeracy skills
* People with ESOL needs
* People with disabilities
Grapevine’s Accelerate team mainly work with people with a learning disability but we can refer people on to other Accelerate partners.”

Work

We’ve been helping people with learning disabilities into work for the last 10 months, most recently through Accelerate, a city-wide short-term partnership project. Since then it has secured 10 trials and 6 jobs for 13 individuals, working with 29 businesses.

“I was really impressed with the work they did with Ikea – I’d not seen that before – a taster and interview day for participants, which no other partners have done. Their work has led to some impressive results in terms of getting people with learning disabilities into work.”

Operations Manager, CWCDA Mandy Bygrave, June 2017.