A time to Tell – Rob

“I have an interesting family background and it is this background that has influenced me and helped me realise that I could make a difference. Even at school in the mid to late 70s. e.g. 1976/77. Some of my classmates and I were fed up of teachers going on strike and the way they were being treated. Therefore, we locked ourselves in school. St Richards.

We took inspiration from riots at Hull Prison. Taking direct action to draw attention to conditions in prison”.

“I always had a sense of right and wrong, which was more about fairness. This got outworked many times in my life”

“When I first started work, it became boring. I worked in a shop, bank. Through life experiences at this time, I decided that I wanted to make a difference in society. I then I went into nursing people with learning disabilities.”


In 1997, Rob went to work for a Training Company as an NVQ Assessor. It wasn’t well paid or a particularly good job. So, the next job was with Touchstone, where he worked for three years. It was very much a role of making money rather than delivering a good product. The pressure to meet targets lead Rob, to one year working on Christmas day whilst his young family were downstairs. “It was at this moment I knew I needed to change what I did!! And knew that I wanted to work with people and help them to change.”

This was the golden era of funding for community groups where grants such as SRB (Single Regeneration Budget) provided funding to enable Hull DOC (Developing our Communities) to be set up. Rob didn’t get a job with them at this point. (1996).

“ I was successful with a job at Longhill Consortium. Realising I could make a difference there.  If I had his time again, I would do it differently. But, Longhill Consortium helped people get jobs, even 15 years later.”

Rob feels, if he had this time again, he would have got more skilled in what he was doing. At the time it was “the good life of SRB” Possibly short term thinking for the long term.

Rob took this job for two years. He was then made redundant. Two local people were taken on. If he had the time again, he would have made the project more sustainable. “Goodwin Development Trust were clever and deliberate in what they did. We were making it up”

Rob went to work at Longhill Primary School before this. Chris Jennings was the Head. She was given £20K by the City Council for a member of staff to get more community involvement. So, Rob got the job for a year. Money was also given for a gym, to be built as part of the Space for Sports and Arts. “I was successful in getting the facility used by the community but the school was annoyed when they couldn’t get into the gym.”

“After Longhill School (one year) and Longhill Consortium (two years), I worked for Hull Community Network for two years (then redundancy) and then DOC for one year. Then I worked for Longhill Link Up for six and a half years as the Leader of the Trust.”

“At Longhill Consortium, the work was at ground level base. I was getting some skills and networking. I started a Youth and Community Work degree when I was at the Consortium. Lifelong Learning. It was very good”

“Before Longhill Consortium, I also worked at the Cherry Tree Centre in Beverley doing Community Development Work in Beverley. I found I couldn’t work with my boss.

Helen Hoult from East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) was the SRB manager for Beverley and she put forward some SRB funded projects.” E.g. with Rob a Walking Bus project for a local school. The SRB funded group listened to new projects and if they supported you, you got the funding.  (mutual support). On the day of putting forward Rob’s/Community Project, Rob’s boss was out all day. But the boss changed the project without telling Rob. So, without prior support for the changed project, the boss’s changed project/presentation was laughed out. Rob’s boss didn’t know the system. Thought his conversation with an officer Geoff who was part of the decision-making group would suffice.”

“It was memorable getting people jobs e.g.at Longhill and working with Ros. (the best thing and learnt a lot”

“Having been managed badly, I now know how to manage. I am always a fighter for fairness”

“At Hull Community Network (HCN), I asked my team leader what I should do in my job. He didn’t know.

The small grant scheme for community groups at HCN was good. CityVision had a good process going on. “They said that if I or Ros had been involved in an application, it worked. People on the grant committee included John Dennett, Ken Ehlert, Paul Gower. It was bringing people together. Developing people. It was really good”.

“HCN was getting people to be networkers. It was good getting the links. We carried out some great work. Plus, the work done with the PCT (Primary Care Trust) e.g. Jo Stott, Sheila Jones and Carol Osgerby.

Between us there is a bit of history, longevity. The Social Capital work was very good. Someone from Sheffield passed on the How Your City (HYCW)works course as theirs. HYCW linked people together. Plus, the work with the City Council Area Teams was good. We were ahead of the game. Maybe we needed to do more work with them.”

In the east, Rob worked with Sylvia and in the West, Kate worked with Ros.

“We set up groups and helped with the Area Conferences and got community reps on local boards. Karen Okra learnt some of her skills in her community work journey. Therefore, she was able to help with City of Culture bid. We see people still around who are making a difference in peoples’ lives. Could have done more”.

“I believe that if If Hull CVS had taken more risks we could have done more, been better”

What’s been important?

“Being fulfilled. Have had twenty years of doing this.

Hull Community Network when we got others working with us e.g. PCT, Area Teams. If our team leader had been a bit more empowering, we could have done more”. “Some people block empowerment. The HCN team were amazing. Then people left. New people did not necessarily provide a good team. Some appeared to be in for an easy ride. We could have done more stuff. We were not deliberate enough.” I would have liked to have taken more risks and created more sustainability. I was an engagement worker. Would have liked to have done some neighbourhood management pilots etc.”

“Some organisations appeared to do very little e.g. North bank Forum. Did not seem to be effective. Need to pick your fights. You may lose a few fights to win a war. We had good links with Emma Platt- Lowe (Cityvision). Chris Ebelthoft at NHS still involved at community level”

Sticks in my mind

“Networking, met other people. Building up trust goes a long way. Social Capital. It goes a long way.”