A Time to Tell – Liz Shepherd

“I got involved in voluntary work when my 2 boys were becoming teenagers and didn’t need me at home so much. I was looking for something to do as the idea was to go into social work but felt I couldn’t go to university while the boys were still at school. So, I did volunteering. There was no CVS then but there was an office on Bond street that organised voluntary work. It seemed I had two choices: Newington Community Care Association, which was local to where I lived, or Prison visiting. I chose Newington Community Care which was an arm of Age Concern. The association was just being revived in the Newington area and was providing help and support to the elderly and housebound of the area. As time progressed I became the visiting organiser which meant I interviewed the volunteer visitors and matched them up with people in the community who wanted help. As well as visiting and shopping for people we also organised bus trips out and an annual Christmas party.”

“This started in 1979– Newington CCA was local to me so I attended a meeting at the Church. It was about helping the elderly which I did for a while, then they needed an organising secretary to interview volunteers and visit the clients to identify their needs. So, I did it as it was good experience for when I eventually did go on the Social work course. We had a strong group of volunteers and it was a good organisation with a strong chair who was ex-military and knew all about committee work and doing things correctly. It was a good grounding for me.

I was ‘head hunted’ by Chris Jarvis who ran Derringham Bank CCA. They were doing the same as Newington CCA. but using Youth Opportunities Programme to employ young people to do the visiting jobs that Newington CCA had volunteers for. They needed a supervisor and I got the job. As it was part time I could work the two organisations together, one being paid and one being voluntary.

The United Reform Church on Lonsdale Street had low number of attendees so the church, which was in the old Sunday School, then closed. The vicar was Vice chair of NCCA and asked what could be done with the building? Could Newington CCA take on the building and utilise it for community use? So, I was still involved with Newington CCA so we made a funding bid to take over the Lonsdale Street Church building. Chris Jarvis helped with bid.”


“Chris Jarvis wanted to amalgamate both CCAs and have a base in the new Lonsdale Street building. But I and others did not want this to happen. Newington CCA didn’t want to be taken over and disagreed with young people on the YOPs scheme doing what Newington mature volunteers were doing. I carried on working part time at Derringham CCA.

Once a grant was awarded for Lonsdale- to develop it into a community centre, I took on the paid part time role as administrator with Newington CCA and the building and resigned from my Derringham Bank CCA job.

So, I worked at Lonsdale Community Centre for Newington CCA and oversaw its renovation work for the next 4 years.

During this time, I also worked part time at the Bransholme Voluntary Action Centre in Bransholme with Karen Spooner and met Diane Keech there. It was tricky to balance the two jobs with the amount of travelling.

I worked in the Bransholme job for 18 months and then resigned as I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere. At this time, I had not done the community work course and didn’t realise how long community development took! (1980-1984) I was a little impatient.”

“1984- After four years of building work with activities going on in the building during this time, the Official opening of Lonsdale Community centre took place. The NCCA worked with a number of outside agencies, one being Riley High School by using the ‘remedial boys’. The centre had a lot of help from them as they got involved with digging up the hall floor and other joinery jobs, with the help of their teachers. It was good to work with the young people and see them enjoying what they were doing.

In the early days Hull CVS had their offices at Lonsdale CC, they held meetings there and Lonsdale CC benefited from working with Kevin Curley, the co-ordinator.

Again, this was a great help as CVS started a lot of groups while in the building – Hull Housing Action Team, Conservation volunteers so Lonsdale was a starting point for a lot of groups. Lesbian Line, Alternative Youth project, Hull Music Collective – I don’t think we turned anyone away.

I remember that Dave Burnby was involved with the Co-operative Development Agency and the setting up of Hull CVS trading arm while CVS was in Lonsdale CC. The idea was to set up a business to sustain CVS (via CDA).

NCCA gave all groups a chance to get established before charging full rent e.g. Thai Chi and Martial Arts. Started them off free, then 50/50 rent until they got off the ground. Lonsdale was taken advantage of at times.

I took running Lonsdale Community Centre in my stride, I enjoyed it. I worked by instinct and was able to relate to people and get them to do things.

The initial meeting of the Hull Federation of Community Organisations (HFCO) was at Lonsdale C.C. Councillors Violet Mitchell and Mima Bell came as they were supportive of the development of Community Centres in Hull.”


“At this first meeting for HFCO only six groups with established community centres there:- Lonsdale C.C, Spring Bank, Drypool Green, North Hull, Edinburgh Street (who were going for school building then) and the Mitchell centre. The idea of the HFCO was to for community centres to support each other and to encourage others to go for community centre in their area. Kevin Curley helped the HFCO to obtain funding to employ a development worker and this is when Roslyn Abbott came on the scene. Doug Revell from North Hull Community Centre was the Chair of the HFCO and I was elected vice Chair. I am not sure why people elected me.

The Social Work course got forgotten about and I continued to develop the Lonsdale C.C. as well as working on the HFCO committee. It was useful that Roslyn, HFCO development worker, was based in the Lonsdale centre.

“One group came in and requested a locked room, they took all the furniture out of the room and cleaned it thoroughly, we got a bit suspicious when we heard – bells were ringing” We decided not to let them stay.”

September 1993

“I was elected to Community Matters committee; this was the national umbrella body for community associations. This was an adventure- going down to London! From then on I helped to run Community Matters training courses on managing and running community buildings, organisations and activities. This gave me confidence to run other courses and I worked with Lindsay Knott at a later date to create a course for Hull Community Network in 2003.

Another surprise- I was elected Chair of the national Community Matters and worked closely with the director at the time, Charles Wood”

Memorable stories while at Community Matters

“Whilst Chair of Community Matters they published a research document called Forgotten Resources which showed the amount of good work done within and by Community Associations. This had a big national launch and was aimed at recognising the value of the work done by Community groups running community buildings. It was hoped the government at the time would take it on board and give more support to community buildings. What a hope.

After three years in office I was up for re-election, there was a coup behind my back. Someone on the committee said” What if Liz isn’t re-elected?” and got someone to stand against Liz (they talked behind my back and the committee voted in the other person). I felt there were some members of the committee who felt I was too close to Chares Woodd the Director. I remained on the Community Matters committee and it was noticed that the committee still looked at me when it came to making decisions to see how I would vote.

I part wrote the How your City Works Course for Hull Community Network with Lindsay Knott and I am impressed with what people who have been on the course are doing now. Plus, there were graduates of HCN. People who did the course include Bashir Siraj (Open Doors), Joyce Korzcak Fields (Councillor)’ Rikki Arundel (Transgender speaker)”


“I was at the second meeting of the beginnings of Hull DOC at Dave Rogers house. Andy Dorton and Roslyn were involved. I served on the first DOC committee and helped with recruiting the initial staff although I did not sit on the interview panel, I took care of the administration.

I planned to retire at 60 from volunteering and planned it in advance over a few years from 2000. I resigned as Chair of Lonsdale Community Centre (Newington CCA) but went back on the committee after the first year as I was not happy with the way things were going.”


“I became the paid Regional Co-Ordinator for Community Matters which included consultancy with community organisations. So lots of voluntary work and some paid.

In 2006 the old Carnegie Library (old West Hull library) came up for sale. Lonsdale couldn’t take it on so I called a public meeting at Lonsdale CC and people agreed that they didn’t want the building to go to wrack and ruin. A steering group was set up and we negotiated a peppercorn rent with the Council. The Hull History Centre helped by offering a service level agreement. Carnegie became a resource centre for local and family history. It has a lease with a peppercorn rent and has evolved into a successful enterprise with a good set of volunteers. People rent space e.g. the Bindery and the East Yorkshire Family History association which makes it financially secure but we also have to get grants for capital items. There is a good group of volunteers with a multitude of skills”.

Memorable stories

The Official Opening of Lonsdale Community centre was memorable as local councillors were invited as well as Councillor Violet Mitchell. The local East Riding Councillor for at the time was also the Mayor that year and as he lived in Newington area he came along in his chains which took the limelight from the local City councillors. We didn’t understand protocol at that time and Councillor Mitchell was a bit put out as they had supported the centre rather than the East Riding council.

I went with Roslyn to a County Council meeting to see the leader Councillor Geraghty. I immediately rushed straight into why they were there, even before we had sat down. Again, not understanding about protocol! E.g. we should have led up to the subject.

Community Associations Liaison Committee (CALC) this was a Leisure Services subcommittee for Community associations via HFCO, to meet with the council. Councillor Brian Petch once said, “I give out money” and I replied “It’s your money to give out, is it?!” He wasn’t best pleased.”

“I did a consultancy at Bilton Grange Community Centre. The treasurer had resigned but the workers wouldn’t touch the money. The safe was jam packed with money which had not been accounted for and obviously had not been taken to the bank. The workers said they did not want to be accused if money had gone missing. There were disputes right, left and centre and while the workers seemed to do their own thing the committee was not strong enough to challenge or supervise.”

In Lonsdale’s early days they held a New to You sale every Wednesday morning. The centre had a relationship with Riley High School and their remedial class. They sent someone every week. One lad was late. He was twagging school in town and when he realised he should be at Lonsdale he rushed to the centre. He preferred being at the centre to twagging or being at school!”

“Councillor Woodford who was Chair of Community Associations Liaison Committee (CALC) once took the keys away from South Bransholme community association when he disapproved of something they had done but in the end the community centre proved the Councillor wrong and he grew to respect us!”

The HFCO had good camaraderie. The 10 years celebration was marked by the Community Link Day were the committee visited every community centre on one day and the centres all put on activities during the day. Good friendships were formed, and people had respect for others.”

Thoughts and Reflections

“ I feel glad I did it and feel I have achieved something. I believe in voluntary work and don’t believe it should always be paid although if you get the right development worker to support the volunteers that is the best solution.”

“I am most proud about learning that things should be done properly. E.g. rule/regulations. You can’t go ahead and do something just because you want to – there must be accountability for self, organisation and building. There is a need to make it clear to all and sundry that you have to be accountable for public money. People need to be aware of where the money is coming from and going to.”

“I enjoy Carnegie most of the time. I certainly enjoyed Lonsdale in its early days.

I didn’t enjoy DOC as much as I was a Trustee and not in charge. “I like to be in control/charge”

“People I respect and have learned from: George Wise – chair of Newington CC Assoc. Pat Ellis from Age Concern, Doug Revell- chair of HFCO, Roslyn Abbott – worker for HFCO, Charles Woodd,- Director Community Matters.”

“I go by instinct when I work, maybe I should think about it and analyse it.

I never realised that is was Community Development we were doing. I just felt we were doing things to help people.

I don’t see myself as a leader, but others do. People say it to me. I did the first Youth and Community Work course in Hull, we were the Guinea pigs.. Was also a community consultant for Community Matters preferred doing training as I was more confident in that as I know my subject.

“I’m most proud of the many organisations who started off in Lonsdale e.g. HIHAC, Gay men’s group, Lesbian Line, etc. They had nowhere else for support. It was possibly because CVS was there, but we had the building and were open to new groups.”