Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Update - Christmas Eve

This week we've been looking at the best options available to us to become a charity and we are taking advice from the Charity Commission to make the next move towards this.

A meeting with Martin at the History Centre has brought the realisation that the original design of Queen's Gardens was intended to create a boulevard effect (like other European cities) with the monument at its head, all on one level. The fact that Queen’s Gardens was later stabilised at a lower level was not the original intention.

You may have seen that there are currently proposals to improve the gardens in time for 2017. One comment suggested to us this week was that the Gardens should be better lit for safety at night but also as a visual aspect leading up to an illuminated monument. This will be mentioned to the Council at the next possible opportunity.

Some other comments relating to the monument itself included suggestions that "it could do with being somewhere more central...it should be moved back" and "it could do with being shorter", along with more concerning questions such as "where is it?" and "who was Wilberforce?" It is particularly important that this campaign will make many more people learn who William Wilberforce was and how relevant he still is as a moral compass in today’s society.

Thank you for your continued support and Merry Christmas!

On a final note, this week saw the announcement of a draft modern slavery bill with the aim of addressing the issue of human trafficking. You can read more here.

Thanks to Emma Woodcock for the picture which shows the monument at dusk just before it disappears into the night. With your help, hopefully we can light it up again!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Week update - 15th December

More exciting activity this week. We've had further discussions with the council who agree that Mr Wilberforce needs to be spruced up and illuminated in time for 2017. The campaign made it into the Hull Daily Mail on Wednesday and we hope for more comprehensive coverage in the near future.

A meeting with the Heritage Manager at the Council has established that we need a feasibility study to give an overview of what needs to be done to restore the monument, and this needs funding. He has been tasked with exploring possible funding streams from Heritage, Arts, Lottery and City of Culture pot. In the meantime your contributions are needed so that we can help to get a firm target.

We have heard back from Pocklington School and St John’s College, Cambridge University - both pivotal parts of Wilberforce’s education. We have had encouraging messages from Karl Turner MP, Archbishop John Sentamu, comedian Lucy Beaumont, Hull College, others linked to the Hull City of Culture bid team and an ever growing list of councillors. The campaign is now worldwide with support from as far afield as New Zealand and Malawi!

Thank you massively for your continued suggestions and support; keep them coming!

Image provided by Joy Bottery.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Summary, week ending 8th Dec

The world mourns the departure of Nelson Mandela for the unique person that he was.

This week we've exchanged emails with more local councillors across the political spectrum who have pledged their support for this campaign - 23 councillors in total have responded, which is a good number for a week's work! One councillor described the campaign as a "splendid idea", and another agreed that restoring the monument in some way would "bring the legacy and memory of William Wilberforce back to prominence." We have also contacted MPs and public figures who we feel would be interested, and are still waiting to hear back from many of these.

To discover more about slavery in a modern context, we watched a backbench parliamentary debate on modern day slavery with interest. The number of members present was a little disappointing, seeing as it followed the Chancellor’s autumn statement. The examples of hardship and restriction of freedom were extensively discussed, and the social and moral responsibility by individuals and organisations were made clear. It will be interesting to see if any Bills are progressed or proposed after this.

You may be interested to find out more about this debate, and this article is worth a watch or or read.

As for the monument, we're still awaiting a figure on the cost of the project. We've contacted the Building Surveyor for council properties to obtain an estimate for the cost of re-lighting the monument and this is expected soon.

We've also contacted schools in Hull and the surrounding area for their support in the hope that they will engage their students in remembering the significance of Wilberforce.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A first week summary

It has been a busy first week for the William Wilberforce Monument Fund. Lots of progress signs, with contact made with members of Hull City Council and more learnt about our aims for the campaign.

On Tuesday, we contacted a member of the team that "deal with maintenance of statues for the council". We discussed our initial aims, and he informed us that the statue was cleaned in 2006. We also learned that the stone that is used for the monument weathers easily, and that the lights outside the monument that are supposed to light it up are broken.

As this is the case, these lights illuminating the monument could be a focal point for the campaign. We are taking the long view in our approach to make this change for Hull's year as the UK City of Culture in 2017 with something that will endure for a long time after the campaign.

We are keen to engage the help of Hull City Council and with that aim we have contacted Councillor Brady, Leader of the Council. We're hoping to learn what plans (if any) they have for the monument and enlist their support for the campaign.

As of today, we haven't had a response, but we're hoping for a response in the next couple of days. In the meantime, we plan on reaching out to individual councillors for their support and advice with the campaign. As always we'll keep you posted.

A high point of the week was the receipt of our first donations. We're eternally grateful for your support in getting the campaign off the ground and for your interest in what we're trying to do for the city of Hull. You can click here to donate through PayPal, by Credit or Debit cards.

Follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook and spread the word! We'll keep you informed of any developments in the next week.

Many thanks for your support!