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Winter's day is past

Category: General

Date: 19.05.2016

Time: 10:56

Hush, Can you hear it?
The rustling in the grass,
Bringing you the welcome news
Winter's day is past.
Soft, Can you feel it?
The warm caressing breeze,
Telling you the sticky buds
Are bursting on the trees,
Look, Can you see them?
The primrose in the lane,
Now you must believe it -
Spring is here again.
- Poem by May Fenn

For me, it seems the whole of the city has woken up after a long and grey winter, from a time when it most certainly felt like everything and everyone was hiding away from its true self, or maybe just the rains! As I look out the window into the garden and the streets below, the world greets me with a palette of colour – from the blossom of the cherry trees to the new flowers standing proud. 

The world that seemed dull and cold has come alive once again. We may never see the remarkable processes happening beneath our feet during the winter months, and may presume the natural world around us has stopped growing altogether, but within that cold hard ground the plants and trees were secretly preparing for rebirth. This is now well underway.

Bursting buds and leaf burst is triggered by the increased length of the day and warmer temperatures that occur during this time of year. This is a good sign of life, but this can also be a sign of a process happening too late or even too soon, giving us a stark reminder of our ever changing climate.

The old saying goes: “Ash before oak we’re in for a soak, oak before ash we’re in for a dash” – you will be happy to hear it was the oak this year! As I look to the months ahead I see my calendar filling up with tree site maintenance days, events and activities, and it certainly feels like an exciting time.

So take note! Spring always give hope for rejuvenation in our lives with a sense of renewed excitement and zest for life. But this should not stop during those cold, dark, wet and windy months past… oh, who am I kidding, spring has arrived and summer is in on its way, let's all get outside and enjoy every moment!

Simon Belham is the Project Officer for Forest for Peterborough.



Hyperlocal Rainfall: May Progress

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 17.05.2016

Time: 13:25

We have some exciting news: we now have a working version of the Hyperlocal Rainfall app! It still has some small alterations to be made, but it looks great on my phone already if I do say so myself! Over the past few months our project partner Meniscus has been working hard to bring it all together, taking into consideration all of the helpful feedback everyone gave us earlier in the project.

To give us a better idea of what goes into the app’s development Aimee-Louise Hunt from Meniscus has spoken a bit about their work:

"The first version of the Hyperlocal rainfall app is now complete and we are thrilled with its progress. We’ve worked hard to get the core functionality of the app running smoothly, particularly incorporating rainfall predictions. We are excited to move into the beta stage of the development where we will aim to include new features such as personalisation within the app."

Now we still have a way to go yet before we have the final working version of the Hyperlocal Rainfall app with all the features and capabilities that we would like, and a bit of work left before we can start testing it, but it is exciting and reassuring to now have something to play with!

Over the next few months our project partners at Anglia Ruskin University will be working closely with Meniscus to build on the first version of the app and develop the personalisation aspects of it, making the app more beneficial to the individual user and how best it can work for you. 

Whilst this is going on we will be starting to test the app on android phones here in Peterborough! We, along with project partners Loughborough University, will be looking for local residents to have a go using the app around the city and surrounding areas. This will be a great opportunity for you to get involved in Hyperlocal Rainfall and make a real impact on how the app will work for Peterborough.

In late June we will be putting together sessions to introduce people to the app at Peterborough Environment City Trust's offices in the city centre, and getting them their own version of the app installed on their android phones. From here we would like the testers to use the app every day (if they can) for two weeks and feedback to us about how they are finding using it around the city. If this sounds interesting to you and you think you would like to take part helping test the Hyperlocal Rainfall app then get it touch! Please email freya.herman@pect.org.uk

Freya Herman is the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall.



Welcome aboard!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 12.05.2016

Time: 13:51

At the end of this week I am taking a trip with my mum on the Eurostar to Paris, which got me thinking about this sustainable mode of transport. Not all of my travel is sustainable but when I can I try and take the train instead. Not only does it produce fewer emissions per passenger than by car (according to Friends of the Earth it is roughly half!) but it is a great chance to sit back and see places in a different light.

Over Easter I went Interrailing in Eastern Europe and loved the freedom of travelling between countries by rail, meeting interesting people and sampling some delicious delicacies on the way. One day I’d like to follow Joanna Lumley’s footsteps and try the longest railway line in the world: the Trans-Siberian Railway!

According to Hull Trains, closer to home in the UK, 3.5 million passengers travel by train every day. However, this mode of transport has sometimes been criticised for being expensive and so here are my three top tips for reducing costs:

1. Book ahead. Rail companies release advanced tickets roughly 12 weeks ahead and these are cheaper.
2. See if you are eligible for a Railcard. If you are, you could save up to 1/3 of the price!
3. Look out for discounts. You can often save money by booking as a group of friends and you can sign up to emails such as the one from the Money Saving Expert. Newsletters like this can keep you up to date with offers such as the Eurostar seat sale from £29 each way!

Peterborough itself is well placed for train travel, with direct links to London, Birmingham and even Edinburgh. Two of our tourist attractions, Railworld and the Nene Valley Railway (NVR) offer fun days out for the whole family, including the NVR open day this weekend.

Our city was lucky enough earlier this year to have the Flying Scotsman soaring through our station and it is also set to return later in the year. So keep your eyes peeled - maybe seeing this part of our history will inspire you to hop on board too!

Jennie Orrell is Project Co-Ordinator at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT).



Proud to be PECT

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 11.05.2016

Time: 14:14

When talking about Peterborough Environment City Trust’s work with Community Interest Company TTG Training (which offers support to ex-offenders and young people) during the redecoration of PECT’s offices on Cowgate, CEO Carly Leonard explained:

“As a charity, all of the decisions we make are informed by our desire to make a real difference to people’s lives. Whether it’s through the work of our projects or through the choices we make and the suppliers we work with, Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) endeavours to improve the local environment and the well-being of its communities whenever it can.”

It is this attitude that makes me so proud to work for PECT. Not everyone can say that about their employer, but here at PECT everyone aims to make a real difference and staff really do ‘walk the walk’. Other organisations could take inspiration from some of the initiatives run at PECT’s offices.

It’s great to see environmental considerations running through every section of our organisation. For example, the use of plastic bags is discouraged and instead there is a range of reusable bags for staff to take out for lunchtime shopping. Having that little reminder of the bags hanging by the door is fantastic for gentle persuasion!

We also have a ‘sharing table’ for all staff. Whether it’s a surplus of home-grown produce or excess hen’s eggs that needs sharing, books that have been read and recommended, or second-hand clothes – items are there for the taking to help reduce waste and to encourage reuse and recycling.

Our health and well-being is improved with weekly lunchtime yoga provided free of charge to all staff by a qualified member of staff, and smoothies created from organic fruit and veg supplied to the office by a local veg box scheme.

Staff have use of pool bikes and an electric car, to ensure we can get to meetings in the most sustainable way possible – ideally through cycling, walking or public transport wherever possible!

In addition to this, all staff have a multitude of opportunities to experience each other’s projects – whether it’s through planting trees, helping on event days, or finding out about environmental audits of businesses – it all helps staff to talk about each other’s projects confidently. In this same vein, we also hold regular ‘lunch n learns’ for staff to tell others about what they’ve learnt and to share knowledge.

Laura Fanthorpe is Marketing and Communications Manager at PECT.



Warm Home Discount marketing key for Fuel Poor households

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 03.05.2016

Time: 16:55

Starting with a positive, the national £140 Warm Home Discount (WHD) has been extended to 2021! The WHD provides financial support to help reduce energy bills for the most vulnerable.

The two categories for support are:

• Core Group: consists of older pensioner households on low incomes who are in receipt of the guarantee element of pension credit; it is a clearly defined group.
• Broader Group: this is largely left to energy suppliers to define, within a framework set by Ofgem and the relevant Regulations.

Core Group households are given the discount automatically provided the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) have the correct address for the client. Broader Group households have to apply annually, often online.

However, the charity Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) has surveyed nearly 500 households over the past year through home visits and found that 80% of residents didn’t know about the scheme, despite 60% potentially being eligible.

So perhaps the energy companies are not effectively marketing the scheme, particularly to the most vulnerable who don’t have access to the internet. For those companies that only accept online applications, they potentially exclude the very people the scheme aims to help.

Although preliminary discussions, led by National Energy Action (NEA), are underway to bring automatic data matching into place from 2017/18, perhaps further work could be done by the energy companies themselves.

However, in the meantime, please make anyone with a relatively low income (<£16,190) with a household vulnerability (eg: a child under 5) aware of the scheme and to check the criteria with their energy company.

Sam Bosson is the Project Officer for Healthy Homes.