Roots to Wings – 25 years of Grapevine

On Saturday 12 October we hosted a celebration in Coventry for our supporters, community, colleagues, funders, friends and beneficiaries. It was a great day to mark 25 years since Grapevine opened in 1994 as a drop in for people with learning disabilities.

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Joey on the sofa

Since those humble beginnings with a mission to help people with learning disabilities become a full part of community, we have widened our net to catch anyone who is experiencing isolation, disadvantage or poverty. In fact, we have helped 3,100 people undergo a journey of transformation in the last three years alone. Our work becomes more and more important as austerity deepens, society ages and local government resources decline.

So here are a few moments from our special day and now we look towards the future with a strategy for the next three years that will see us sparking more community action, strengthening more people and shifting more power in new and innovative ways. Thank you for your support so far!

New Vibes DJs

Nosey parka on stage

Jester Styles magic

Fun in the photo booth

Cake cutting

I never thought I’d find a job that used all the elements of journalism without producing any column inches, but by working at Grapevine that’s exactly what happened. I used every facet of being reporter to connect people to their communities.

Building a wide variety of relationships, being curious about your surroundings, doing research, thinking creatively and often laterally, being brave, taking a deeper dive in the streets and stories on your ‘patch’, all of these elements were some of the parts of being a reporter. They probably still are.

But as a reporter I felt that these elements often seemed to be applied to situations where you would be looking for what’s wrong with a situation. This didn’t suit me, or I didn’t suit this career.

So, I took the chance of a career change, and Grapevine took a punt on me. It took a little bit of time to find my feet. But you know what, working at Grapevine helped me shine a light on some ‘blind spot’ personal prejudices and misconceptions about what being perceived as different means in our society. At times it felt like more than a job; it felt like more than a salary. And thinking about Grapevine now brings back some of that feeling of magic.

Having the privilege of playing a part in growing somebody’s life on their terms, making possibilities and ideas real, helping them change their story through their passions and personality has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done with my life.

Grapevine is ever-evolving and the organisation I left nearly a decade ago is still innovating, thinking and taking action on the ‘what if?’ and ‘why can’t this be different?’.

So, happy birthday, Grapevine. Wishing you the very best with your projects and future success.

Read more of Darren’s blog here.