“So much talent in the room. The start of a great event – running for years to come I’m sure”

Last night we partied the evening away at Coventry’s inaugural Cov Cares Awards at Coventry University’s Square One Venue.

The first event of its kind to celebrate community-focused city businesses, organisations and individuals going the extra mile to bring connection and belonging to local people.

Ten categories, three finalists in each. All of them good enough to win for their consistent commitment to creating spaces where we meet, connect and spend time together. All the more crucial we realise now after losing them in lockdown not so long ago.

A black woman with long dark hair and wearing a white formal dress stands in front of a microphone on stage in front of a screen that displays 'Cov Cares Awards 2023'.
Credit: Mandip Seehra. Local radio personality Sandra Godley shares the evening’s special stories of connection with guests.

Here we share a few photographs by local photographer and friend Mandip Seehra of last night’s amazing ceremony, crafted by a partnership of businesses and organisations in Coventry with a future network of connection and belonging in mind. Along with a few winners’ stories.

A large event room at night with several tables surrounded by dozens of people in both smart and casual dress, depending how they feel most comfortable.
Credit: Mandip Seehra.

More Than Just A Cafe or Restaurant award winner: Coffee Tots

“Coffee Tots in Coventry city centre is so much more than a support group for parents of preschool babies and children. It is a safe place. Where little ones play and parents feel connected to one another and their shared experiences – and to staff who encourage and care without judgement. There are simply too many wonderful stories to share about this place – a “second family”, support during mental illness, a chance to socialise and a source of confidence to leave the house. Coffee Tots’ new home at The Wave promises to continue its invaluable ripple effect among city families.”

A black couple facing away from the camera hold drinks and read nomination stories stuck to the wall at the venue.
Credit: Mandip Seehra. Nomination stories were displayed for guests to read.

Finalist Sophie Hyam, owner of Culinary Bites, said:

“So much talent in the room. The start of a great event – running for years to come I’m sure. Sian from the Grapevine Cov and Warks team wonderfully summed up the night saying we are all winners.”

An older black couple stand smiling while holding their Cov Cares award for best venue for the Knights Bar at Two Tone Village. A white woman wearing a flowery dress with bobbed blonde hair claps after presenting them with the award.
Credit: Mandip Seehra. Alph and Angela from Knights bar at Two Tone Village on Walsgrave Road collect their award as winners of More Than Just A Bar or Nightclub.

Hannah Daniels, co-owner of Revolution Training, winner of Community Champion (Business) Award said:

“We were asked a question tonight, where in Coventry feels like home? Straight away my reply was ‘Revolution’. You all make work so easy, you make it not feel like work but a place of comfort, security, happiness, fun. You have created an unbelievable sense of community. You make it so easy to love what we do. I love being at work, and being able to help you all in any way we can. It means so much.”

Hannah and Steve from Revolution Training, a white couple with the woman wearing a baby sling to hold her young baby in, hold their award wth a younger woman (Sian from Grapevine) with auburn hair wearing an orange dress.
Credit: Mandip Seehra. Hannah and Steve accept their ‘Community Champion’ award for their business Revolution Training from Sian Lewis from Grapevine.

Community Champion (for a business) award winner: Revolution Training

“Revolution Training is based on the border of Willenhall and Binley where owners Steve and Hannah have nurtured a unique “Revs family” of people at all fitness levels who feel cared about both in and out of class. In this gym, everyone is seen and it is through this process of connection and belonging that Revs is challenging the notion of what gym membership means. Learning people’s names, checking up on absentees, keeping people motivated, hosting social events, holding free online classes in the pandemic, boosting physical and mental wellbeing – this is how you build a business that champions community first.”

A young Asian man wears shorts and a green T-shirt and plays a yellow electric guitar on stage at the event.
Credit: Mandip Seehra. A performer from awards finalist Media Mania.

Programme Director, Michelle McGinty, said:

“It was a privilege to be invited to attend the Cov Cares Awards Ceremony this evening. Such an uplifting experience, celebrating the many businesses, organisations, places and people that go above and beyond on a daily basis for Coventry’s residents and communities.

“Once again I was reminded why I am proud to be a Cov Kid. Coventry really does care.”

Si Chun Lam, Grapevine trustee and Strategic Leader, said:

“As we grapple with the socioeconomic challenges of our age, whether that’s building inclusive economic growth in which everyone has a stake; reinventing the role of city centres and high streets in the age of internet shopping; or rebuilding civic trust and strengthening our democracy, none of us have all the answers.

“But, surely the kind of ‘space’ created through events like today’s is part of the way in which we can empower people in ways that spark ideas that can help people come together to address our common challenges.”

We have many more finalists’ and winners’ stories to share so please look out for these on our website and social media.

Here is the list of winners:

  • More Than Just A Bank: Coventry Building Society
  • More Than Just A Bar or Nightclub: Knights Bar
  • More Than Just A Shop: Cogs of Coventry
  • More Than Just A Cafe or Restaurant: Coffee Tots
  • More Than Just A Venue or Community Space: Sitting Rooms of Culture
  • Creative Champion Award: Art Riot Collective
  • Community Champion (Business): Revolution Training
  • Community Champion (Individual): Caroline Taylor, HOPE Community Projects
  • More Than Just An Employer or Employee: Becky Ball, Change Grow Live
  • Warm Welcome Award: Bardesley Youth Project

And just before we go (please excuse the grainy screenshot below), you can watch our Connecting For Good Cov community organiser Sian Lewis on BBC Midlands Today talking about the awards here – plus interviews with Coffee Tots, Kitchen 126 and Joy’s Cafe, our three finalists for the More Than Just A Cafe award.

A final word from Grapevine CEO Clare Wightman

“A special shout out to Paul Jones from Visit Coventry, John Kiely from McDonald’s, to Coventry BID, Coventry Building Society, PET-Xi Training and anyone I’ve missed who have worked with us on creating these awards.

“We asked people to submit stories of connection and belonging. Of times when they felt seen and heard, and cared for. We wanted stories that went beyond the expected, and showed the absolute power of having places, spaces, and people that truly care about Coventry’s people.

“We received 756 nominations, 431 of which included a story. Out of the 167 places and people nominated, our panel of community judges from across the city picked you all as the stories that truly stood out.

“That truly said connection and belonging.”

A screenshot of an interview on BBC Midlands Today with Sian from Grapevine stood outside a cafe in Coundon.
Our Sian on the telly! Click image for show link – tune in from 22 minutes.