How do people thrive in these times?

From community SPIRIT to community POWER.

On 4 July 2020 we called Coventry people together to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic and talk about what they want to happen next.

155 people showed up to our online summit and considered three things close to Grapevine’s heart:

  • Poverty and inequality
  • Neighbourliness and connections
  • Our power to change.

We captured their community spirit and action to help ensure both outlast the crisis and make our place more resilient for the future and the challenges ahead.

Pre-pandemic we were moving the city’s communities towards a position of increased strength and resilience. Now we can lead the way in bringing others on-board, deepening the work and accelerating our activity in readiness for recovery.

Download the report here. Read more on our blog here.

From community spirit to community power summit report

We’ve never needed our communities as much as we do now.

Although we’re based in Coventry and Warwickshire we’re not only interested in helping people create change in this area. We want to help every area of the UK answer the question “How do people thrive in these times?”

That means working with funders who are interested in our work, what we might learn together and how it might help them answer the same question. Since 2016 we’ve been doing this by sparking social movements in communities, and via Ignite, a five year national learning project supported by Comic Relief, The National Lottery Community Fund, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and The Barrow Cadbury Trust.

“Grapevine operate in a different paradigm, a future paradigm. They speak truth to power and create relationships for change inside systems. I love the Walk and Talks and Collaboration Stations.”

Jess Cordingly, Head of Innovation, Lankelly Chase Foundation

“Grapevine have this engine for creating conditions that enable people to take control of their lives. A think and do tank that’s able to transform services and lives wherever they are.”

Rich Wilson, Co-founder of the Good Help Movement (with Nesta)

Curiosity and experimentation

Our approach has become a nationally acclaimed example of deep social change. Of how people and communities can meet each other’s needs, claim power and take action on what matters to them, and transform services and systems along the way. It does this by blending community organising techniques and learning from social movements with our community building and person centred planning heritage. It’s based on years of experimentation and observing emerging practices across the world (including Savannah, South Africa and Uttar Pradesh). We believe it’s the future of services and civil society.

Because of our work Coventry City Council, Nesta, Sheila McKechnie Foundation, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have all sought our input into how to deliver social change better and fund more impactfully. In 2019 we won the Small Charities Big Impact Award and Midlands Service Excellence Awards. In 2018 Nesta’s Good Help movement asked us to present at and judge their Good Help Awards.

Social action in Stoke Aldermoor
Credit: Stuart Stabler
Shifting power and improving systems

While Grapevine is all about the power of community it would be unwise to undermine the value of public services and systems. We want them to be as effective as possible. And they are just as full of untapped potential as people and communities.

Just as it can in communities the right kinds of relationships can unleash services and systems’ potential. Walks and Talks, Ideas Factories, Collaboration Stations and, above all Ignite, our partnership with Central England Law Centre have been at the centre of shared efforts to find new and better ways of getting the right help to people at the right time. These;

  • Change how we have conversations with communities
  • Create better ways of finding and supporting community leaders
  • Create more equal and ‘human’ spaces where problems can be solved together
  • Involve working with partners and stakeholders and understanding how they are changing
  • Shift the relationships between statutory and third sector organisations to one of co-production of common outcomes (rather than transactional relationships).
Optimising public services through place-based partnerships

As the door to shifting power opens, new types of partnership become possible. Partnerships that rip up the rule book on traditional partnerships and bring public services and communities closer together. Partnerships that maximise the resources available in a community (without extra investment). Partnerships that go beyond solving problems and tap into a place’s ambition to be a great place to live. We’re doing this with the local authority and local people in Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry. And we’re doing the same in Atherstone and Mancetter in North Warwickshire.

Place based social action bringing big changes to Stoke Aldermoor.

Learn from us, work with us

Read about Grapevine and the social determinants of life. Or if you’d like to find out more about our work, and how what we’ve learnt might help you transform services in your area get in touch.