Tributes paid to Brighton and Hove community champion

Posted On 27 Jul 2020 at 9:11 pm

Tributes have been paid to a community champion who helped give a voice to generations of people from some of the poorer parts of Brighton and Hove.

Barry Hulyer died last weekend, having just turned 66.

Mr Hulyer was a leading figure in the Hangleton and Knoll Project for 20 years and used it as the model to set up the Trust for Developing Communities (TDC) in 2000.

He also set up music charity AudioActive – where the singer songwriter Rory Graham, better known as Rag’n’Bone Man, is a patron – and was instrumental in the creation of Community Works in 2013.

And he was given a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the community and voluntary sector in Brighton and Hove.

Mr Hulyer was born in Welwyn Garden City, in Hertfordshire, and came to Brighton in the late 1970s.

He worked at the Brighton and Hove Community Resource Centre, in North Road, Brighton.

Writer and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe, who worked with Mr Hulyer at the Resource Centre, said that he had “inspired so many people”.

Mr Fanshawe said: “He was funny, sardonic and … he had a knack of being bloody aggravating when he wanted something to happen – a dog with a bone – and at the same time so humane in his understanding of how disadvantage and poverty took power away from people.

“His determination to reverse that has inspired me for ever.

“His gutsiness in doing the best for local communities will be his greatest legacy.

“He was a true fighter for fairness and a true believer in the potential of people.”

Mr Hulyer was a community development worker at PACT (People and Churches Together) when he was placed in Hangleton and Knoll where he helped a small project become an established and widely respected grassroots organisation.

Barry Hulyer

Another former Resource Centre colleague, Jim Simpson, said: “Way back in the 1980s I was lucky to work with Barry and be trained by him.”

“He was such an inspiration,” Mr Simpson said, adding: “So much high-quality community development and improvements to neighbourhoods in the city – lasting and deep-rooted ones – have come about because of Barry and his trail-blazing work.

“His bold master stroke of founding and creating the Trust for Developing Communities was a brilliant endeavour.

“Barry was indeed bold, courageous and single-minded. Everything he did was driven by the desire to make things better for other people.

“This value put into action in so many brilliant ways was truly inspirational.

“So many of us have so much to thank Barry for. The city has much to thank him for. He was loved and appreciated by many.”

Bellngham Crescent on the Knoll Estate in Hove – Picture by Simon Carey / Geograph

Mr Simpson, said that they worked on a number of projects together including a survey of housing conditions on the Knoll Estate.

He said that many of the homes were damp, grotty and badly maintained – and that was not unusual at the time. It gave rise to an anti-damp housing campaign.

And, Mr Simpson said, they worked with John Joyce, who was then the vicar of St Helen’s Church and St Richard’s Church, to provide community facilities in both church halls, with help from the Diocese of Chichester.

PACT set up projects in other places, such as Peacehaven and Lewes, with the Hangleton and Knoll Project as the model, Mr Simpson said.

He added: “Barry was a hugely ‘other-focused’ individual. His life was devoted to helping groups of other people who were without a voice to have one.

“He will be remembered by many as an awkward bolshie character for all the right reasons.

“He couldn’t bear to see relatively powerless people trampled on by those with power.”

Jo Martindale and Pat Weller from the Hangleton and Knoll Project

The Hangleton and Knoll Project’s current chief executive Jo Martindale said: “Brighton and Hove is a better place for Barry.

“His legacy will live on in the community buildings he developed, the organisations he created and in the hundreds of careers and thousands of lives he affected.

“I will miss him as a dear friend, brilliant and frustrating colleague and someone who should have had longer to spend time in the sun.”

Kirsty Walker, director of neighbourhoods projects at the TDC, praised his contribution in setting up the accredited “working in community organisations” (WICO) training.

In just over a decade from 2000, he trained about 50 people, with many of them still working in community development locally.

The TDC said: “Everyone who works with, or for, TDC, including our hundreds of amazing members working voluntarily in their communities, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Barry Hulyer for founding the organisation and rooting it so strongly in the values and principles of community development.”

Kirsty Walker

Ms Walker said that she worked with Mr Hulyer at the Hangleton and Knoll Project in the late 1990s and later at the TDC from 2010.

She said: “Barry never stopped wanting to empower people to take action on the things that mattered to them.

“He took a tenaciously grassroots approach, believing in the power of the community development process to transform people and communities.

“All around me, in people, organisations and communities, I see the fruit of seeds he sowed. I know many people will join me in feeling thankful for having had him touch their lives.”

The former mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Dee Simson, said: “I loved that man and all he stood for. I first met him well over 20 years ago when he was recommended as someone to talk to about developing Woodingdean Community Centre.

“From the first time I met him, I immediately liked him and all he was trying to do. He helped shape what I am today and was always there when I needed help or advice. He helped me through some difficult times and I will always be grateful.

Former mayor Councillor Dee Simson

“The city is a much better place because of the community development he fought for. He was an inspiration and will be so missed, especially by me.”

Another former mayor Bill Randall, the first Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “He did a great deal for many communities across the city.”

Claire Johnson, from the Hangleton and Knoll Project, said: “I met Barry 14 years ago. I was a single unemployed mum living on the Knoll estate who was in need of an opportunity, a chance to make a better life for myself and others. Barry gave me that opportunity.

“I spent 18 months being taught community development by him, my child care costs taken care of and I gained an inspiring mentor who I consider to be someone who had a huge impact on my life and my career.

“Fourteen years later I am managing the delivery of community development work at the Hangleton and Knoll Project which exists because of his passion and dedication to empower communities.

“Barry, your work lives on in me and so many others every single day. I’ll never forget you and all you have done to make a lasting impact on so many people’s lives. What a wonderful legacy.”

Other figures from the world of community development in Brighton and Hove who paid tribute included Colin Miller, John Routledge, Pete Castleton, Liz Lee and Ian Chisnall.

Barry Hulyer was born in Welwyn Garden City, in Hertfordshire, on Saturday 17 July 1954. He died overnight on Friday 17 July and Saturday 18 July 2020. He leaves a son, Alex, who lives in Australia.

  1. Pingback: A tragic loss for Brighton and Hove – Barry Hulyer RIP | ianchisnall

  2. Ian Chisnall Reply

    What a fantastic piece Frank, your work on this wonderful person is very much appreciated. Well done. I have put a link to here on my blog.

  3. Ann Tizzard Reply

    Thankyou Frank.

  4. Eddi Piper Reply

    Thank you Ian for writing about Barry. He achieved huge things for the people of Brighton and Hove. Yet always had time for friends .I admired his steadfastness and his integrity and his ability to see the whole picture and aim for the best outcome. I will miss him very much and always recall his loving wisdom and whimsical humour .He was a great support to me and I am proud to call him a true friend

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