This week we’re introducing Siân Lewis to the team, who has returned from the United States to work in her hometown of Coventry.
Community organiser Siân most recently played a part in our Reconnection Tour last Saturday which saw local Changemakers share stories of change during a guided Walk and Talk through Coventry city centre, followed by a vibrant after party with Engage Britain at Nauls Mill Underpark.
Siân hosted one of six Walk and Talk stories, taking up her megaphone beneath the rainbow colours of Morag Myerscough’s ‘Endless Ribbon’ art installation in Hertford Street to encourage more people to get involved in action against isolation. Myerscough sought to bring joy to an area that needed more love, so it made a fitting backdrop for Siân to invoke more connection in the city.
If you would like to get involved, a good place to start is Collaboration Station on the third Wednesday of each month at Esquires Coffee inside Coventry Transport Museum. It’s where ideas go to make friends and creates a space for Coventry locals to come together to collaborate on community led action. If you’re new to the night, email community organiser Gemma to find out more.
Here’s more about Siân!
What were you doing just before you joined Grapevine?
I was working in Columbus, Ohio as a University Advisor! I loved working with incoming first-year university students and helping them transition to life in university. However, after five years of living in the United States, I was ready to return to the UK and my home city of Coventry!
I moved back in October of last year and I found out about the amazing work that Grapevine does through my old secondary school friend Suzie. Suzie has been involved with Grapevine for years and she told me about some of the wonderful projects that she has worked on. She sent the job application my way and I truly haven’t looked back since! Thank you Suzie!
What other experience will help you with your new role?
Working as a Community Organiser is all about connecting with people. I am a huge extrovert, so I get all of my energy from the people around me. I love working to make change in communities, and I am extremely passionate about working with people from Coventry.
I’ve done a lot of work surrounding social justice, especially while I lived in the US. While at university in North Carolina, I worked with organisations on campus on topics such an inclusivity, mental health awareness and sexual misconduct. Living in America opened my eyes to a lot of different things and social justice was a huge part of this journey for me!
I also have experience with the charity Huntington’s Disease Youth Organization and I co-run Huntington’s Disease Community Catch-Up – a digital platform aiming to provide community for those affected by Huntington’s Disease. It has been amazing to see the connections that have sparked up throughout the world through this digital platform and I have learned a great deal about community and what it means to be connected to those with similar experiences as yourself.
Why do you do work like this?
My life has been greatly shaped by charitable work and I have always felt drawn to helping others due to the help that was given to me growing up. My family is impacted by Huntington’s Disease and I have seen first-hand the isolation that can stem from disability. I am particularly passionate about Connecting for Good, our movement to combat isolation and marginalization in Coventry.
I also studied Political Science (and Music) at University, which gave me a greater insight into how systems can help and hinder communities around the world. Although fascinating, I find working with people one-on-one and diving head first in the community is the best way for me to use my skills and passion. Grapevine is a truly incredible organisation and I am so lucky to be joining such a passionate and dedicated team!
What are you most looking forward to about the role?
I am really looking forward to getting to know my city again. I’ve been away for a while and returning to Coventry and getting this position has reminded me of all of the wonderful people that we have here. I can’t wait to dive into the community here. I also already adore my team and I can’t wait to get to know them more as we work on combating isolation and marginalisation in Coventry.
A fun fact or skill you’d like to share with us?
I grew up in Coventry, but I attended university in North Carolina (US) on a vocal scholarship. I LOVE to sing and I am grateful that my Grapevine co-workers don’t mind me singing most things that I do. I have been compared to Jess from New Girl, although I think that this is a HUGE compliment!