Pioneering, curious, optimistic.
Hello, we’re Grapevine. We’re a pioneering example of how to help people work together to solve their problems for good. Together we’re making a sea change for communities in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“Needs-based provision keeps people needy, while dream-based provision helps them create, grow, and give to others.”
Clare Wightman, Grapevine CEO
Our vision is local citizens with the skills and confidence to act on what they care about; connecting through their shared humanity, taking power into their own hands and regenerating their communities. We want to help every area of the UK do the same.
Services aren’t enough
Thirteen years ago Grapevine was a small single-issue charity helping Coventry people with learning disabilities get a more just life, a life like any other. The work had taught us that real change in a person’s life could not come from service provision. That if you want people to take charge of who they are and who they might become then you have to do something different.
Our hunch about what different looked like went like this…
‘What people really need is love, intimacy, purpose, friendship, hope. People can meet these needs in each other through two-way flows of support. Two-way flows of support can solve their problems for good.’
So we took action and began a journey into exploring new methods. And we expanded our reach to offer support to all kinds of people facing tough times, whatever labels or diagnosis they were given.
Turning people’s needs into assets
On that journey we upset traditional service models of ‘needs based provision’ and established a new model of ‘needs as assets’. We learnt how to unlock the abundant pre-existing resources in communities and helped them build resilience and grow protective networks for their members. We saw people begin to look after each other and raise each other up. Our work was profiled nationally and recognised as leading a new way of ‘doing’ services and reducing reliance on shrinking public services.
We also learnt that:
- Understanding people is more impactful than assessing them
- Relationships, not services or hierarchies, solve problems
- There’s no limit to what people will do for those they care about
- Widening people’s circles takes them beyond coping, to a place of colour and shared humanity that creates energy for more change.
Hope, compassion and ambition flourish
Today we’ve grown a network of self-sustaining communities that nourish the health and wellbeing of their members. Communities that can and do step-in as the state shrinks.
This is not just about creating close-knit communities, but communities that are ambitious for their members health and happiness. It’s not just about people having more relationships, but having the quality of relationships that nurture hope, compassion and ambition.
We’ve not given up on services. We have a responsibility to them. So now we also run collaborative system change programmes across Coventry and Warwickshire. These shift power and create more equal and ‘human’ spaces where problems can be solved together. Read about how we’re helping funders, local authorities and others think about the challenges of shifting power in ways that help people across today’s Britain.
Three principles guide our work:
Bottom up. We believe people should be in the lead of improving their lives and communities. So we listen to, learn from, act on and facilitate what they say matters to them.
Connecting. Services can’t always be there, but other people can. So we help people develop strong relationship networks.
Dreams and assets. When we recognise and trust in people’s strengths and aspirations, hope and confidence blossom. They realise their potential, take opportunities and deal with challenges.
Since 2016 we’ve helped 3,173 people in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Half were helped to develop naturally regenerating support networks, and the purpose, skills, and confidence to grow within them.
The rest were helped to create community-led initiatives like Slow Roll (an inclusive bike ride) and Feel Good Community (by and for people with chronic illness). From protecting green spaces in Warwickshire to creating a safe and inclusive nightlife in Coventry, they’ve led the way.
Through this work power was shifted towards those who don’t have it. Our ‘Ideas Factories’ brought together community, families and services to solve shared problems. 61 systems and services changed. They include the Autism Pathway in Warwickshire, Occupational Therapy in Coventry, Coventry’s Children’s Services and Family Hubs, the recommissioning of health advocacy services in Warwickshire and Coventry’s services for disabled children.
Roots to Wings
2019 was Grapevine’s 25th anniversary. So we released a new impact report. ‘Roots to Wings’ shows our outputs, outcomes and impact over the last three years, and tells the story of how we got there over the last quarter century. In the report you’ll learn how we’ve strengthened people and ignited community action. And you’ll see how we plan to continue doing this, as well as shifting power in more structural ways.