Welcoming Edwin and Lynn to shifting power and strengthening people at Grapevine

This week we’re offering up not one but two interviews with new starters at Grapevine, Edwin Lukong and Lynn Donovan.

They began work on two of Grapevine’s three strands of action a few weeks ago now – here are their ideas for their new roles and previous experience in Coventry and other countries around the world.

As community organiser, Edwin will be working with local people, voluntary and community sector groups and partners from Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, Coventry City Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care System to help them make the most of their combined capability to improve the health of their community.

Alongside programme manager Dean Tilley, Edwin will help bring the whole system together to hear and understand people’s stories of lived experience so they can explore what an improved story would look like and how to create it together.

The Healthy Communities Together programme is part of our #ShiftingPower action strand and was established by The King’s Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

After filming, Edwin told us a bit more about himself.

He says: “I was born into a polygamous family with 25 brothers and sisters, so sharing and taking care of each other was not an option for me as a child, it was the only way to live.

“I’m a living testimony of the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” because I strongly believe that every adult in my village (Kumbo in Cameroon) contributed in their own numerous ways to my upbringing.

“Education-wise, I went to Catholic schools and was mainly taught by missionaries and volunteers from whom I learned a lot. They influenced me in some ways.

“The voluntary sector is not a place where most people go to make money. It is a place where they go to serve, to give back and I have a lot to give back!

“I have worked in the voluntary sector throughout my working life and I can’t think of a year that has ever passed without me being engaged in some sort of voluntary service.

“So work like this is practically what makes me who I am. It is where I am coming from and where I want to be.

“I’m just grateful for being paid to do something that I really touches my heart.”

When asked what he is most looking forward to about the role, he said: “Making a difference, helping one person at a time to discover that they can make a difference not just for themselves but for the community as well.”

As advocacy officer, Lynn will help autistic and learning disabled adults in Coventry with their immediate advocacy issues such as housing, debts and benefits, health care and Care Act assessments.

She will then move on to building self-advocacy skills, resilience for the future and connections to networks of community support.

Many of the people helped initially by the advocacy service will go on to receive support from our wider Help and Connect project in the city and vice versa.

Coventry’s new advocacy service forms part of Grapevine’s #StrengtheningPeople strand of action and is funded for three years by the Henry Smith Charity.

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