Community group offers lockdown lifeline on Hull estate
Posted on 3rd November 2020 at 10:21
Families living in Hull’s Boothferry Estate are surviving lockdown with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers behind the popular HU4 Community Network Group.
The grass-roots organisation has provided a host of socially distanced outdoor activities for estate residents throughout the spring and summer, and is now appealing for food and goods to create emergency parcels for hard-hit local people.
Led by Dawn and Terry Sullivan, the group are also fundraising to create an official multipurpose centre based at the estate’s Dragon Park, and we are proud to say that one stalwart member of the HU4 team is our very own electrician Arthur Smith!
67-year-old Arthur Smith, who has worked with us for the past nine years, said: “I’ve lived on the estate since I was 15, and got involved with HU4 at the beginning of this year after seeing something on Facebook about a residents meeting. I decided to go along, and haven’t looked back. Since then, I’ve helped out with all sorts of things, such as building a composter.
“It’s had a massive impact on residents, lots of people come to HU4 for help with various problems, and the summer craft sessions for kids were a godsend for families. This is just the beginning though, we desperately need a proper hub and things will really take off once we get one.
“I’ve been really inspired by Dawn and Terry, the work they do is brilliant and I love being a part of it, it’s so rewarding to be able to give something back to the community.”
Since the group’s inception in summer 2019, a variety of popular outdoor activities have taken place at the park, but Dawn is determined to provide a building to host indoor activities for local residents and is canvassing support from Hull City Council as well as members of the public to make her vision a reality.
“Other Hull estates have community centres, but not Boothferry,” said Dawn. “We know from the research we’ve done and also the feedback from the hundreds of people who use HU4 that the demand is there. Our aim is to establish a unit that’s accessible all week, offering a range of activities and support for residents of all ages, from babies to the elderly.”
Despite relying purely on funds and donations from generous members of the public, the group has managed to bring the community together outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic with a book club and craft sessions, and creation of a ‘wish tree’, flowerbeds, and communal vegetable patch.
HU4 are now focusing on assembling and delivering food, clothing and essentials parcels for residents in need, and would welcome donations of goods including food, clothes, toiletries and sanitary products.
Pearson Electrical has so far supported Arthur by allowing him to use workshop for machining various parts for Dragon Park, and generous colleagues have donated clothing and food.
Arthur added: “Being able to use the Pearson Electric workshop is fantastic, all my workmates are really supportive, as is the boss Mark.”
Managing Director Mark Pearson said: “I’ve been really impressed by Arthur’s dedication to the HU4 community group and he’s inspired me to look at ways we could potentially support the group in future.”
Fighting their corner
One beneficiary of HU4’s good work is 32-year-old Kirsty Bayles, from Bethune Avenue. With two teenagers and a baby born just weeks before lockdown, Kirsty and her partner had their hands full and were also dealing with a problem neighbour.
“We received a leaflet through the door about HU4, and so I contacted them via Facebook to ask advice on what to do about my issue,” Kirsty explained. “Dawn was brilliant. She offered to raise it with the local PCSO and set everything up so all I had to do was wait for a phone call.
“She invited me along to the park for a socially distanced chat and since then I’ve been involved in the group, both in using its services and also helping out where I can.”
Kirsty’s children had barely left the house but once lockdown restrictions were eased, they took full advantage of the activities HU4 provided at Dragon Park. She said: “My daughter is deaf, and had become quite withdrawn. The craft sessions were fantastic, they really brought her back out of her shell, she became happy and chatty again.”
Kirsty is fully supportive of the HU4 campaign for a community hub. “There are no facilities on this estate, we desperately need something. Some elderly residents hardly ever leave their homes, even just having somewhere for a coffee morning would help,” she added.
“For me, it would be great to be able to just walk somewhere nearby to have my baby weighed, or go to a baby and toddler group in the future when the pandemic is over, instead of having to drive somewhere. Some people who live here have to rely on public transport or taxis to get around, having at least a few facilities on our doorstep would make an enormous difference.
“The work Dawn and the team are doing is fantastic, they are fighting our corner and they’ve got the whole estate backing them.”
Anyone who would like to support the HU4 community group in any way or access its services should ring or message 07830 243199.
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