Following the success of the Grass Roots football I accepted an invite from Kim Hepple to tour her patch as community participation officer, Kim Hepple is a very special person who introduced me to the real Hessle Road and the characters who live there. At 7 stone wet through she could still handle any of the bruisers and yobboes who tried it on. We met first with Geoff Ogden and Frank McKenna to watch the Grassroots Boys play football. The Newington Ward is were I grew up. It was never prosperous but with the loss of the cod war has suffered from high unemployment, drug abuse and school delinquency making it one of the most deprived areas in Hull, and in fact in the UK
Kim inspired me with a wish to make a difference. We decided on a modern version of the The Hessle Road Pram Race. It wasn’t a new idea, my friend Peter Nicholson a Hessle Road shopkeeper had organised something similar in the eighties to stimulate trade.The original so called pram race, was when the wives of trawler men collected their children from school and rushed down to the Dock Offices to draw their men’s wages, who were at sea, before they closed for the day.
The aim of the project was to raise funds to develop and sustain long term existing, and new schemes in the Hessle Road area. We added more to the day by arranging a Carnival to follow the Race.
Monies raised in 2009 enabled us to help 22 charities, these were vetted and approved by Kim. All applicants attended a relaxed interview. It was a great pleasure to help and meet so many people who give so much and have so little.
So the focus was the pram race, but the Carnival we added, was the feature which ensured interaction and enjoyment for the residents.
Two examples stand out. JJ was a lovely man who taught his young people age group 4 to 18 how to play darts on Saturday mornings, everything he did was on a shoe string. The kids paid a modest subscription which JJ used to buy potatoes and feed the boys chips at the end of a session at Edinborough St Community Centre. Complaints about smell resulted in JJ being banned doing his cookhouse treat and the books wouldn’t balance having to send out to the local chippy. However despite set backs It just shows how even a sport like darts has positive effects, not only in building companionship and pride but the spin off in the boys becoming competent at maths to the amazement of the teachers.
Hull Youth for Christ is another example of goodness in action, with faith being the motivator by the volunteers, but not with evangelistic intent, only driven with the desire to help a poor community. On this occasion we helped with some funding for the breakfast club, Mums brought children for breakfast before school, and it also became obvious that some Mums needed breakfast too. Their Mission promotes such good work in the community, and includes the breakfast club, Parent and toddler group, after-school clubs, youth groups , a community meal, and a parents group. They were also proud to tell us that they worked closely with the local schools, providing extra support in classrooms, assemblies, and being on the governing body. They also arrange an annual beach trip, days-out to local attractions and a week long residential camp, led by volunteers who all live in the Newington area.
Although I have mentioned only two, the whole 22 were all deserving cases and it was very rewarding to help. In 2010 and 2011 we still managed to help a further 30 small organisations with donations.
We ran it for three years. Success could be gauged by the letters of approval we received, however the overall cost of staging the event despite support in funds, and volunteer help particularly, Irene Todd from Local Company ARCO was difficult to justify. In the last year our escalating costs were due mainly to Health and Safety issues in running the pram race for just two hours. In the circumstancies we had little alternative but to conclude the event in 2011.