Hull Songs of Praise


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Hull

It's Hull's year as the UK's City of Culture. Aled Jones discovers what that means for England's biggest Parish church and how Hull's famous sons are getting in on the act.


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This week, I've come to Hull, in the North East of England,

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Yorkshire's coastal city.

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Welcome to Songs Of Praise.

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From up here, you get a great view of the marina and, er, over there,

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the Humber Estuary - gateway to the North Sea -

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and the reason why Kingston-upon-Hull

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is the UK's largest ports complex.

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But this year, people are set to see the place in a whole new light,

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as it's the UK's City of Culture.

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Which might explain what this thing is doing in the middle of town,

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and why the parish church is about to become a minster.

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I'll also discover more about

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some of the city's famous names, from William Wilberforce

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-to Jean the Bee.

-Oh, thank you ever so much.

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On Homeless Sunday, I'm in London to find out how a church

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goes the extra mile to provide shelter.

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And we hear the story of the Headscarf Revolutionaries,

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who took on the government, after three devastating trawler disasters.

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What do you think the men would feel about your sticking up for them?

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I think they'd be proud of us.

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As always, we'll have some great music for you,

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and we begin with a terrific hymn from Hackney Empire in London.

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This should chase away the January blues.

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-THE HOUSEMARTINS:

-# Fun, fun, fun... #

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In Hull, 2017 began with a bang, as it became the UK City of Culture.

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It's set to be a big year, with a myriad of arts events,

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exhibitions and concerts planned.

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For one young Hullensian,

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the festival has already changed his life.

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'..BBC Radio Humberside, the home of the UK City of Culture...'

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Kofi Smiles won a competition to become the BBC Face of Hull.

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Thank you for tuning in and welcome to The 2017 Show!

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'He used to work in a Jobcentre,

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'but now, he has his own radio show and is an ambassador for the city.'

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I tell you what, you get a great view from here, don't you?

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Yeah, it's all right, it's not bad.

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-What is that?

-What, this little thing?

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-Little?!

-This is actually a turbine blade.

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It's one of the first that was produced, at these factories down

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at Alexandra Dock, and it's invaded this kind of classic public space.

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-And what do people make of it?

-It's actually been fantastic,

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because it's created a debate whether this is art.

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This is actually our Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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-OK.

-Cos you know how people always try to, like, do the lean?

-Yeah.

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Here, you can see people pretending to lift it up like strongmen.

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-Holding it up? I love it.

-It's brilliant!

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People have kind of had this resurgence, pride in thinking...

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People know what we're about now, this is Hull and

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we're getting to share what we are with the rest of the world.

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'Around the corner is England's biggest parish church, Holy Trinity,

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'and this year is a significant one in its long history.

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'It's been given the grand status of minster.'

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Wow! This is the biggest parish church I've ever seen, I think!

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-It's enormous!

-It's bigger than some cathedrals, actually.

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And this church dates back to when?

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Well, it was started at the end of the 13th century.

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They began at the east end, and it was cutting edge technology,

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because the ground is so soft and boggy, they actually had

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to make a raft and then build it on it, so the superstructure

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had to be kept as light as possible, hence the very filigree pillars,

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the huge windows, which just makes it so light and airy.

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-It's incredible!

-Mm-hm.

-Absolutely incredible.

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And this parish church is going to become a minster!

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Yes, that's right. The Archbishop of York has said he wants to make us a minster,

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-which is very exciting.

-Very nice of him. So what does that mean?

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Well, it goes back, really, to a medieval concept,

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of, er, often in a monastery, where it would be a church for a region

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where people would come together, often in community.

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They'd come and share worship and prayer, they eat together, so they

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could go out then into the community to help people who were in poverty.

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So it is about bringing people in, in order to release them to go out

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to refresh their communities and bless the city.

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As far as I'm concerned, we have Hull to thank

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-for quite a few great hymns.

-That's right.

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One of the greatest hymn tune writers, John Bacchus Dykes, He was born in this city.

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Of course, he wrote the tune to Eternal Father, Strong To Save.

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-Yeah.

-He wrote the tune for Praise To The Holiest In The Height.

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One of my favourites is The King Of Love My Shepherd Is.

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HORN BLOWS

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GULLS CALL

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Today, Hull docks handles ten million tonnes of cargo a year,

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and a million passengers.

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But 50 years ago, it was one of the world's biggest fishing ports,

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and trawlermen regularly risked their lives to deliver their catches

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from the North Sea to feed the nation.

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-Hello, Yvonne.

-Hello, darling.

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Tracey Stephens and Yvonne Blenkinsop are both daughters

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of fishermen, and they're linked to a traumatic event in Hull's

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maritime history, that typifies the dangers of being a fisherman.

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-We'll never forget our loved ones.

-No, definitely not.

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Since the early 1900s

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over 6,000 men have lost their life at sea,

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and that figure is just for Hull.

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In the dark January of 1968, during stormy seas, disaster struck,

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and three trawlers sank within three weeks of one another.

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-ARCHIVE:

-The nation was shocked by the tragedy.

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59 men dead in the unbearably cold waters off Iceland.

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My uncle was on the first vessel that was lost. He was only 19.

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I was very young, but, um,

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I still remember people crying, the tears flowing.

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Yvonne remembers the profound effect

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the disaster had on this close-knit community.

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It was just like the whole of the city was at one funeral,

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all of Hull. It was terrible, it really was awful.

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And I'd read my Bible and see if I could get any help.

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If you've got faith, God always listens.

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The women of Hull were concerned about the safety on board ships,

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and decided to do something about it.

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Well, I think it's gone on long enough,

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and if we don't do something about it, nobody will.

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What do you think the men would feel about your sticking up for them?

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I think they'd be proud of us.

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We needed better radios, we needed stronger ones,

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we needed stronger ones that's in the lifeboats,

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and better equipment in the lifeboats.

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Yvonne became one of the four women

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who were called Headscarf Revolutionaries,

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that led the fight to improve safety for fishermen at sea.

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You know, good on 'em!

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I think, if I'd have been a bit older during those days,

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I think I'd have been alongside them

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chaining myself to the railings as well.

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Yvonne, here on the left, went to Parliament

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armed with a petition of 10,000 signatures and a list of demands,

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which led to 31 changes in the law.

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They took us to this room with the Minister at the time,

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and I called him "petal" and he laughed.

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I think that's why he called me "dear" when he answered me.

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SHE LAUGHS

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And at the end, when we'd finished asking for all these questions,

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I said, "Well, are we going to get these?"

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He said, "I am absolutely sure, my dear.

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"You ARE getting them." And I was absolutely tickled pink.

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Yeah.

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# When I am down

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# And, oh, my soul, so weary

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# When troubles come

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# And my heart burdened be

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# Then, I am still

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# And wait here in the silence

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# Until you come

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# And sit awhile with me

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# You raise me up

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# So I can stand on mountains

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# You raise me up

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# To walk on stormy seas

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ALL: # I am strong

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# When I am on your shoulders

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# You raise me up

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# To more than I can be

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# You raise me up

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# So I can stand on mountains

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# You raise me up

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# To walk on stormy seas

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# I am strong

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# When I am on your shoulders

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# You raise me up

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# To more than I can be

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# You raise me up

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# So I can stand on mountains

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# You raise me up

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# To walk on stormy seas

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# I am strong

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# When I am on your shoulders

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# You raise me up

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# To more than I can be

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# You raise me up

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# To more than I

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# Can be. #

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Oh, thank you ever so much.

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-Here in Hull, everyone seems to know Jean Bishop.

-Thank you.

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You can see her regularly dressed as a bee, collecting money for Age UK.

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She began when she was just 70. Now 94, she's still keeping busy.

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-Hiya, Jean, how are you?

-Yeah, I'm all right, thank you.

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-Lovely to see you.

-Aw, it's lovely to see you.

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So go on, then. How much money have you raised over the years?

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I've raised nearly £112,000.

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-Wow!

-Yes.

-That's amazing!

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What's the best thing about Hull, would you say?

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Well, I think it's the people.

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You wouldn't think of what they come up with and say.

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They all really love you and they're so nice.

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-I've never had one person who's been what you'd call nasty to us.

-Yeah.

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Isn't it a bit tough being out here in all this sort of weather?

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Well, it is, really, but, er, I've got some favour -

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I ask God to just help me in the morning

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and, if I'm going to have a really tough day,

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-then...

-There you go. Thank you.

-There you go, darling.

-Thank you.

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And then, when I go home, before I go to bed,

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I always say, "Thank you.

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-"Thank you very much."

-SHE LAUGHS

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-Yes.

-Well, listen - lovely, lovely to meet you

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and I honestly do think you're a legend, you really are.

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-Aw, well, you are as well.

-Oh, ssh!

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-Ooh, my legs have got stiff!

-Yeah, mine too.

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Behind all the hustle and bustle of any city

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is the growing problem of homelessness.

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Well, today is Homeless Sunday, a day that brings together

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thousands of churches of all denominations to do their bit.

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Kate Bottley went to see how one church in London is helping out.

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It's amazing to think that one in ten people have been homeless

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at some point in their lives,

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and that's expected to increase even further, so the struggle

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to find somewhere warm and dry to sleep is getting harder.

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Well, this might not look like a homeless shelter or a church,

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but it's actually both.

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GOSPEL SINGING

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'Highway of Holiness Church in Tottenham responded to the need

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'in their area by opening its doors to the local homeless every night.'

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How does it work? So where do people sleep, where do they eat?

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People actually sleep

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in the same auditorium that we hold our church services,

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-because that's the only space we've got.

-Yeah.

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'They turn in the church into a shelter seven nights a week

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'and also offer showers, a place to store belongings

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'and a much-needed hot meal.'

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Bye! Mwah!

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-But here, you were made welcome?

-For me, this is my house.

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When I sleep here, or the other room,

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and in the night, before I have dreams, I think,

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-"Oh, this is my house!"

-THEY LAUGH

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'Do you ever think that the sacrifice is too much?'

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There's a lot that you have to do to make it work,

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but if you look at what the Scripture teaches us,

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it's about loving your neighbour as yourself,

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and that means putting yourself in the shoes of somebody in need,

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so, if you happen to be homeless yourself,

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-what would you like somebody to do for you?

-Mm-hm, mm-hm.

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You would like them to give you a shelter.

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But this comes at a price, doesn't it?

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Yes, the congregation is not a wealthy one,

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so we have to use our pennies to put things together.

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GOSPEL SINGING

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One of the generous church members is Hannah Adu,

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who, even though she earns well below the national average wage,

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donates to the shelter each month.

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-HANNAH:

-'As a church, our culture is to pay 10% of our income.'

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-You've been blessed with five children.

-I've got five children.

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-You look amazing!

-Thank you.

-THEY LAUGH

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Do you think that they ever have to do without a little bit,

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because of your generosity?

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We've never gone without food, but there are

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certain little perks that the kids might have, or want,

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that we might go without, because we simply can't afford such luxuries,

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but we're talking luxurious items.

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-We're talking like maybe the latest games or something like that.

-Mm-hm.

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So, though they may not be wallowing in luxury, they are doing fine.

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-KATE AND HANNAH LAUGH

-'They seem to be doing fine!

-Yes!'

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-No licking, please!

-GIGGLING

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It was a bit of a shock to our system, when we first started,

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because you would come into church and there were smells

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and there were noises and there were men, and we were all protective of

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our children, etc, and it was like, "Are we safe? Are we OK?"

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-Mm-hm.

-So that was how we started.

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But as time went on, and we saw the goodness of God in the

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whole situation, it became - what were we worried about, you know?

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THEY LAUGH

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I'm not just saying it, but it does have God's hand in it.

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It's not man-made. We didn't put a project together...

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-'If you'd have sat down with a piece of paper and gone, "We'll do this," you'd have gone, "No, we won't!"

-No.

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'If somebody had brought it to us, "This is what you'll be doing,"

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-'we'd say, "No." We would just sweep it to the side.

-Yeah, yeah.'

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I saw you!

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We have people that will come in, simply use the shelter and go.

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We have people that'll come in, make their home and just relax.

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And they go back completely transformed.

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Hull's most famous son is William Wilberforce

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and, as you can see, he has a commanding view of the city.

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He was the local MP,

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and for over 40 years, he campaigned to bring an end to slavery.

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He was born in this house in 1759, the son of a wealthy merchant.

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Kofi and I went to meet historian John Oldfield,

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to find out more about this remarkable man of faith.

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So, here we are entering some of the family rooms,

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and you can see here, this is Wilberforce's ceremonial dress.

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-Ah, right. He was quite short.

-Yes.

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We think about five foot three, nothing more.

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-But what a presence.

-Absolutely.

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And, you know,

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there is this sense of, when this man starts to speak,

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then he comes to life.

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What do you think it would have been like to meet someone like him?

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I can imagine the scene,

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if it's, like, a tavern or a bar, and their heads are turning,

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-"Who's this guy?"

-Yeah.

-And all of a sudden, like,

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"Actually, no, we've got to listen in and hear what he's got to say."

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-Was he always a man of faith?

-No. No, he wasn't.

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In fact, by his own account, he was quite rebellious in his youth.

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At Cambridge, he liked to entertain and stay out late,

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-and all those things.

-Right.

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But, then, there is this crucial moment,

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around about 1785, he becomes a committed Christian,

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in the sense that he's much more concerned

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about rules of personal faith, prayer, Bible reading.

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And so, a serious Christian.

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Wilberforce came to see slavery as the ultimate sin

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in a world that accepted it as a necessary trade.

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Here is a neck brace,

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which would have been used in the West Indies.

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-Wow.

-And this very powerfully brings home, just, the inhumanity

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and cruelty of plantation slavery across the Americas.

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That brings it, definitely, to life, doesn't it?

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And that just shows they weren't just property,

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it was more like livestock, wasn't it?

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You know, they were owned, they were there for a purpose -

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-and their purpose wasn't their rights or for living.

-Yeah.

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He spent almost 50 years making speeches

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and gathering petitions to force change.

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In 1833, just three days before he died,

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he received word of the campaign's success.

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I mean, ultimately, it's his religious faith that drives him on

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and the last piece of news he received

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was that the House of Commons had actually passed the bill

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to abolish colonial slavery in the British West Indies.

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So, there's a wonderful, sort of, poetry to that moment, I think.

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-It's an incredible story, isn't it?

-It's an incredible story.

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What does he mean to the people of Hull now, would you say?

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-You know, is he still relevant?

-Oh, definitely.

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He's someone that went against the grain,

0:28:030:28:05

he went against the social norm.

0:28:050:28:07

It gives you a little bit of a boost

0:28:070:28:08

to think, "OK, if this is what's happened in the past,

0:28:080:28:11

"what can I do now in the present

0:28:110:28:13

"and what legacies can I leave in the future?"

0:28:130:28:16

MELODIC HUMMING

0:28:170:28:20

# We shall overcome

0:28:370:28:40

# We shall overcome

0:28:420:28:45

# We shall overcome

0:28:460:28:51

# Some day

0:28:510:28:55

# Oh, oh, oh

0:28:550:28:56

# Deep in my heart

0:28:560:29:01

# I do believe

0:29:020:29:06

# That we shall overcome

0:29:060:29:10

# Some day

0:29:100:29:13

# Oh, oh-oh-oh, oh

0:29:140:29:16

-# We'll walk hand in hand

-# Hand in hand

0:29:160:29:21

-# We'll walk hand in hand

-# Hand in hand

0:29:210:29:26

-# We'll walk hand in hand

-# We'll walk hand in hand

0:29:260:29:30

-# Some day

-# Some day

0:29:300:29:34

# Oh, oh-oh, oh

0:29:340:29:36

-# Deep in my heart

-# Deep in my heart

0:29:360:29:41

# I do believe

0:29:410:29:45

# That we'll walk hand in hand

0:29:450:29:50

# Some day

0:29:500:29:54

-# We shall all be free

-# Oh, oh-oh

0:29:540:29:59

# We shall all be free

0:29:590:30:03

-# Oh

-# We shall all be free

0:30:030:30:07

# Some day

0:30:070:30:11

# Ah, ah-ah, ah

0:30:110:30:14

# Deep in my heart

0:30:140:30:18

# I do believe

0:30:190:30:23

# That we shall all overcome

0:30:230:30:27

# We shall overcome

0:30:290:30:32

# We shall overcome

0:30:340:30:38

# Some day

0:30:380:30:42

-# Deep in my heart

-# Deep in my heart

0:30:420:30:46

# In my heart

0:30:460:30:47

-# I do believe

-# I do believe

0:30:470:30:50

# That we shall overcome

0:30:500:30:56

# We shall overcome

0:30:560:31:01

# We shall overcome

0:31:010:31:06

# Some day. #

0:31:060:31:14

And from Hull, that's just about it from William and me.

0:31:150:31:19

Next week, it's Chinese New Year

0:31:190:31:21

and Josie d'Arby will be joining Christians

0:31:210:31:23

for a spectacular magic lantern festival.

0:31:230:31:26

In the meantime, we're going to leave you

0:31:260:31:27

with a traditional favourite, from Romsey Abbey.

0:31:270:31:30

Thanks so much for watching.

0:31:300:31:31

It's Hull's big year as the UK's City of Culture, and Aled Jones discovers what that means for England's biggest parish church and how Hull's famous sons, from William Wilberforce to the latest BBC Face of Hull, are all getting in on the act.

Give Me That Old Time Religion from Hackney Empire, London The King of Love My Shepherd Is from St Mary-Le-Tower Church, Ipswich You Raise Me Up by Celtic Woman Now Thank We All Our God from Warwick Road United Reform Church, Coventry The Power of Love from the Salvation Army, Sale We Shall Overcome by Laura Mvula with Gareth Malone's Voices Choir Angel-Voices, Ever Singing from Romsey Abbey.