John’s story

John Toman is a Team Leader at Grapevine. He’s personally and professionally committed to making a difference in one of Coventry’s toughest neighbourhoods.

‘I grew up in Willenhall amongst all of my Dad’s siblings and my cousins, part of the large Irish community there in the 70s.

Going back felt strange, but I could see Willenhall was a great community place. Coming back has helped me reframe some of my more negative childhood memories.

Often we’re in Willenhall for the whole day seeing people in their home, at the library or in the Hagard Centre.  My role as team leader means I have a number of people and families I’m working with, so I hold a caseload alongside investigating themes and ideas, training and encouraging professionals to see and do new things.

We also meet to explore each case we are working on; looking at what we’ve done, what we’re doing, seeing if the work is giving us what we need.  What are we noticing about how current services work? Are we showing a different way of doing things? Are things changing?

Money and career have never motivated me. For me, success is knowing what drives and interests you and then making that your work.  I believe we are our work in many ways and to bring them together feels truly rewarding.

I’m impassioned by the idea that all people can do better, feel better and achieve more given the right environment, the right settings and someone interested in them.   I have seen people turn around really hard and difficult circumstances because the timing is right, they are ready and the right person is there to support.

We can do really amazing things together and this is how I gauge success in my life.   Our Ignite programme allows my passion to be my work and my work to really matter.  That makes me happy.