October has been busy. We’ve been making plans for the months ahead and also adjustments to the way we work as government guidelines evolve in response to COVID-19.
But one positive – or three! – has been getting to know new people joining the Grapevine team. Rose, Suzie and Calvin work across three existing projects in Coventry and Warwickshire (click here to find out more about our three strands of action). Here they are – a warm welcome to each.
Shifting power – Place Based Social Action
Rose Gicovi joined us last month as a Community Organiser in Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry.
Rose has lived in the neighbourhood for over 20 years since bringing her family from London to join friends who had already moved in.
The area has changed a lot from a time when she and her friend were chased for being newcomers. Her own life has also evolved from setting up a school ‘walking bus’ so she and other local Mums could use their mornings or afternoons to work or study part-time. Her sons are now grown up, one starting university in these strange times and the other just graduated.
Now it’s Rose’s time to take the connections she’s made since joining Grapevine’s place based social action in Stoke Aldermoor (funded by the National Lottery Community Fund) in 2019 into a paid role with us where she can build on her Public Health and Community Studies degree with the professional tools of community organising.
Having already graduated from our Changemaker University (collecting yet more friends in the same way she says her grandmother used to in their village in Kenya!), she’s looking forward to continuing to create a community garden at the local Life Centre (Grow Eat Learn Skills) – and with it, hope against the backdrop of COVID-19.
She says: “I want to see the change for Stoke Aldermoor that I have dreamt of for so long come true. I want to see the area get connected with its residents and spread that to the rest of the city.
“I am inspired by what I know to exist around Stoke Aldermoor that we have not fully uncovered that could be great.”
Fun fact: Rose is a massive Game of Thrones fan, previously hosting premiere parties with friends. Anyone joining Rose on Zoom will spot a painting of the series’ cast – a gift from her son.
Strengthening people – Warwickshire Empowerment Service (WES)
We first met Suzie Crowter as a teenage buddy to our young people on Teenvine Plus. Her sister Heidi was one of those young people.
Suzie studied German and Italian at Bristol University followed by Migration Studies for her Masters degree. She spent her free time there running a team of student volunteers working with teenagers with learning disabilities.
Back home in Coventry, she’s combining work on WES (funded by Warwickshire County Council) with a part-time job at Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.
WES members are working on their ‘Made For Me’ campaign to increase accessibility of UK venues for people with disabilities. They’ve already reviewed the British Museum’s online offering and are now developing a checklist to help guide other organisations in the right direction on inclusion.
Plus helping sister Heidi prepare for an appearance on daytime TV show This Morning!
“Growing up with a sister who has Down’s syndrome inspired me to go into this line of work, particularly because of my family’s positive attitude to believe in her potential and support her to achieve everything she has.
“This taught me from a young age that the lives of disabled people can be fundamentally changed for the better with the right support networks and people who believe in making society a more accepting place.”
Fun fact: Suzie is a big fan of crafting and has crocheted many items of clothing. She finds it relaxing in her free time and is enjoying Zoom sessions with fellow crafters.
Strengthening people – Community Powered Advocacy
Former tattoo studio manager, housing support worker and Animal Science graduate, Calvin Tasker, joined us in September.
He is a new addition to our Community Powered Advocacy Project in Warwickshire (funded by Warwickshire County Council). Covering the north of the county and working with a dozen or so individuals, he’ll be helping them uncover their passions and build their capacity and connections to community.
He says: “I’m lucky to have had the support and encouragement around me to strive to do what I love.
“I want those same opportunities for others. Helping people realise that they CAN do it and setting them on the path to getting there is what I’m most looking forward to.”
Calvin’s own passions include climate change, photography, movies and collecting vinyl records.
Fun fact: The Matrix trilogy is his film “obsession” with a huge collection of memorabilia, including life-sized cardboard cutouts of Morpheus, Neo, Trinity and Agent Smith!