Community Development in Hull and East Yorkshire
Hull and East Yorkshire Community workers’ tales 1985-2016.


This web page is a collection of stories related by people who carried out various forms of community development work, mainly in Hull, but also the East Riding from 1969 until 2017.

The stories provide us thoughts and memories about the evolution of Hull’s community and voluntary sector and community development work. It has been developed by Roslyn Abbott who practised community development in Hull from 1985-2016.

Originally, this project, ‘A Time to Tell’, was about seeking out people in local communities who had been part of developing their neighbourhoods or groups between 1985 and 2016, to get their story told and written up. There appeared to be little recorded in the public domain about the community (development) work carried out by hundreds of dedicated individuals and groups; voluntary and paid.

A Time to Tell – The Project

Some of the community activists/volunteers had died, others were difficult to track down, possibly having left the area. Community workers and volunteers were then interviewed who had been around at this time, knew some of these community activists/volunteers and had worked/had contact with Roslyn Abbott in part of this period.

Pooy flow in victoria Square

In the pilot project ‘A Time to Tell’, over thirty people were invited to tell their story from differing backgrounds, areas, ethnicity, ages etc. 18 people responded. 12 of these stories are currently recorded on this website page, including the project initiator (Roslyn Abbott). It is hoped that over time, other people will add their story. The hope is to bring alive and visible, the dedicated work of people in their communities to improve quality of life. Highlighted , too are the issues faced by communities and community workers over this period, hindering or enhancing community development work.

There are stories of individual journeys into community work, and others that reflect on and provide personal critiques of Hull and East Riding community work and their own journey. There are case studies, analyses, anecdotes, opinions, humour; all showing the great belief, passion, pioneering spirit and determination to support people in developing, transforming and shouting about their communities. Sometimes things went wrong, or misfired, but the stories show positive outcomes and pride too, in their neighbourhoods, group and city.

The stories give a little flavour of how local and national government schemes, the influence and partnership working with the community/voluntary sector and communities led to a range of Hull projects including the Community Centre Strategy, Community Engagement Work, Community Health Work and refurbishment of community buildings. The stories show a window into the extent of the influence and impact of the community work.

Some of the difficulties and tensions within the work and with people/organisations have also been highlighted in some stories. There are criticisms, harsh in places. Community workers are renowned for their debating and honesty. They often have vast differences in their beliefs, politics and actions. Yet the passion, dedication, stoicism and belief in Hull and its communities’ shines through the storytellers’ tales.

Most of these stories have not been recorded in the public domain before now.

Four of the ‘A Time to Tell participants have told their stories orally. They can be found on the Untold Hull website at Hull Central library.


Project process

Hull White phone box

The process of recording the stories included regular communication; one or two meetings with each of the storytellers, writing them up for amendment by the storyteller; a workshop and two community lunches/teas. These provided opportunities to amend stories, feedback, contribute to analyses and sign consent forms to be included in this project.

It is the storytellers themselves who wanted the stories to be in the public domain and agreed with having a page on the Carnegie Heritage Centre website.

Project outcome

An outcome of this work has been the occasional community workers information and networking lunches held at The Annex, in SEARCH’s premises

What’s on the web page?

The web page includes a workshop write up, which includes some analysis of the stories received up until October 2016 and a bibliography; a timeline of government programmes and policies in this period which influenced some of the community work locally; a short conclusion; some contact details of current community /voluntary sector resources locally.

Project contact details

If you would like to contact any of the storytellers or the Project Development Worker, please email Roslyn Abbott:

Future project contributions

It is the hope that others will add their story, or their comments. Or just enjoy reading them! It’s a living piece of history.

Others may use the information and stories as a resource, to evaluate, analyse and research further.

Acknowledgement and thanks to the following:

Bud Hull, especially Annalieza and Lesley for funding and support, without which this project would never have happened.

Andy Dorton (C of E Social Responsibility Officer) and Gill Hughes (Lead on Youth work and Community Development University of Hull), Liz Shepherd who have given encouraging support, information, advice and help.

Jessica Leathley and staff at Untold Hull for time and help to include this project

Carnegie Heritage Trust for agreeing to include this page on their website.

Cathy and SEARCH for supplying space for workshops /community lunches and latterly the community workers lunches.

The 19 valuable Participants, the story tellers, making themselves available to talk and then to amend their written stories and attend workshop, lunches etc Contributing their thoughts and opinions about the project.

Thank you, Coral Gladstone. We will remember you.

Coral Gladstone, one of the storytellers and project participants, passed away at the end of September 2018 at the age of 61. She had lived with cancer for several years. A real inspiration in health and sickness, Coral will always be remembered for her vitality, honesty and belief in community development as she worked and fought to facilitate equality, justice and services for all sections of society. She was also a ground breaker, a mover and shaker.

Coral will be missed by many of us. Thank you, Coral, for being such a loving and vital part of our lives.

architectural shot of The Deep