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Category: Public/Communities

Date: 30.09.2016

Time: 10:43

For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) engagement project. The idea behind this piece of work is to ask people their opinions about our city: including what’s good, what’s not so good and what they think we should focus our energy on here at PECT.

Any campaign like this needs a hashtag these days and ours is #Proud2BPeterborough. Why? Well we think there’s a lot to be proud of in our city – sure, it’s not perfect, but where is? And we hope that by asking the question ‘What makes you proud?’ it will compel people to think of what it  is about this place we call home that makes us want to live here, in this small city on the edge of the fens.

Peterborough seems to me to be a place that doesn’t always take pride in itself. Anecdotally I hear people complaining about the place, the lack of nightlife, litter on the streets, homeless people and beggars and so on. These are also some of the issues that are coming up on the survey we’ve been asking people to take and on our social media.

Sure Peterborough faces some big challenges, and its important that these are recognised and addressed but unfortunately none of us has a magic wand where we can magically just wipe away all the problems we face and most, if not all, of the city’s issues are the same type of challenges that any growing urban space faces.

That said, we feel it’s really important to find out people’s opinions so that we can make sure that people are heard and that our future agenda responds to their concerns. We must try to actively seek solutions where possible by working together with other organisations in the city and most importantly with the people who live here. This piece of work isn’t the answer, instead it’s the first question, the first step towards understanding what we should be doing to help Peterborough become an even better place to live, work and play.

I did an interview with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire about our campaign and it prompted me to think about what makes me proud. I started writing a list, and it just kept growing and growing! First I thought about the wonderful natural spaces we have; including Ferry Meadows, the Embankment and the river, the nature reserves, the woodlands, and our great community growing spaces like The Green Backyard, the Olive Branch and WestRaven community garden.

There’s also our beautiful buildings, like the Cathedral and the Guild Hall to name just two, visitor attractions like Sacrewell Farm and Flag Fen. Did I mention the pubs? There are some great new independent micro breweries that have recently opened up: Stoneworks and the Bumble Inn, and there’s Charters of course. In the area where I live the Coalheaver’s Arms and the Palmerstone Arms are both great traditional pubs where you always receive a warm welcome and a great pint!

I could go on and on about the great places in the city but thinking about what makes me really proud, what really rocks my boat about this town is not the growing number of great venues or all the summer festivals – it’s the people.

I’ve been so lucky over the last few years working at PECT to meet and work with people from all over the city who are doing a fantastic job of making this a better place to be. I’ll give you just a few examples (the list is so long I couldn’t possibly mention everyone): the Rivercare group who regularly go out and clean up the banks of our river, the Nene Coppicing and Crafts group at Bretton who have been bringing the woodlands at Bretton back into use, the WestRaven Big Local residents who are working tirelessly to open a community café and garden, and all of  the people who give up their weekends and evenings to attend meetings, put on events, work in charity shops and soup kitchens.

These people and the hundreds like them across the city have something in common - they see what needs to be done and get on and do it. If there’s litter to be picked up they pick it up, and if there’s a way to bring their community together they’ll find it.

As Communities Team Manager at PECT it’s been my privilege and great pleasure to work with the people of our city over the past few years, and I’m truly grateful that they have given me cause to be proud of my city. I make no apologies for sounding sentimental and a bit gushing about this because it’s true, and I’d like to thank all the people working so hard to make this place a better place and ask others too to think about what can be  done to encourage involvement, build community, and become #Proud2BPeterborough.       

Karen Igho is Communities Team Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT). Please do get involved and let us know your thoughts by filling in the survey here.



The accidental gardener week two - The Big Web

Category: Education

Date: 26.09.2016

Time: 11:05

Life is all about relationships.  So is gardening.  Plants, humans, animals, the earth and the elements are all interconnected in a complex web, each component playing its own crucial role in its success. This is the principle of permaculture.  It's common sense really, but somehow over the years, we seem to have lost sight of what this is, eschewing the natural way of gardening for an easier option which is overly reliant on chemicals.

You may already know that plants need nitrogen to grow, but did you know that pea and bean plants draw nitrogen into the earth? The technical term for this is nitrogen fixing, but in essence, it means that if you plant peas and beans near other vegetables, they will act as a natural plant food, preventing the need for sprays and other artificial products. Something I will definitely keep in mind when planting next year’s vegetables.

I learnt last week that digging destroys the life in soil that worms have so kindly helped create. Apparently, when planting, we should dig a hole disrupting the bare minimum, followed by watering and mulching.  I’d heard of mulching, but never really understood just how important is it to gardening.  It is essentially a protective covering, usually of leaves or peat, preventing the evaporation of moisture, the freezing of roots, and the growth of weeds. This year, my xmas gift to my plants will be a warm, comfy layer of mulch!!

I’m very quickly learning that permaculture is not just a sustainable way of gardening, but it is a regenerative way of gardening, creating conditions to enable long-term growth and fertility. According to our course leader Simon, a soaking of water followed by some mulching, is a bowl of chicken soup for the earth. So, next time you're in the garden, give your plants some love and a warming bowl of chicken soup for the soul!

Kari-ann Whitbread is the Fundraising Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust.



Rawlinsons has achieved its 75 charitable acts

Category: Business

Date: 23.09.2016

Time: 09:49

Recently I was excited to hear about the remarkable achievements of the Peterborough-based accountancy firm Rawlinsons in their commitment to complete 75 charitable acts in 75 days.

Rawlinsons has recently embarked upon 75 charitable acts to mark the milestone of its 75th anniversary. This involved employees from across the business joining in and bringing together their fundraising talents to raise money for the chosen charities over the course of 75 days throughout summer 2016.

The charities benefitting from this fundraising extravaganza included NSPCC Peterborough Business Support Group; Shine; Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice; Macmillan Cancer Support and the Peterborough Cathedral 900 Appeal.

Whether it was a 75-mile static bike marathon to a human hound race at the city’s greyhound stadium; a cathedral abseil; 75km walk and taking to the water for the annual dragon boat festival, the employees at Rawlinsons fully embraced the challenge. One member of staff with a particularly sweet tooth even took on the task of giving up biscuits and cakes for the whole 75 days – now that’s true commitment!

So what must have seemed like an impossible challenge, when the staff at Rawlinsons first set off on 1st June to raise their initial target figure of £7,500, was soon accomplished. In fact, the team managed to exceed this target by raising a remarkable total of £8,434.15, to include Gift Aid donations. 

As members of PECT’s iiE green business accreditation scheme, Rawlinsons has already achieved its Green Accreditation status, proving its ongoing commitment towards maintaining its environmental credentials. In addition to this, Rawlinsons was awarded overall Outstanding Achiever in the Small Business category at the iiE Green Awards earlier this year.

The 75 Charitable Acts truly goes above and beyond the normal fundraising efforts of many small firms and is a great model for other business to aspire towards. It is a fantastic example for other businesses to be inspired by; in particular those who are looking to improve their corporate social responsibility and give something back to their local community.

Michaela Anthony is the Digital Marketing Apprentice at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT).



The accidental gardener

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 19.09.2016

Time: 14:20

I never really understood people who raved about the joys of gardening. I just didn’t get it. What on earth could be fun about digging holes and pulling up weeds? The thought of reading a gardening magazine or watching Gardeners’ World was just unthinkable to me! That was until two years ago when I finally got a house of my own, complete with garden.

These past two years I have grown to love and really appreciate my garden. Slowly, I am getting to know its intricacies, and the habits of the creatures that visit it. The more I learn about it, the more respect I have for it.

Flowers that I have planted rather randomly have done their best to survive for me, even when I have not necessarily planted them in what would be their chosen locations.  My big learning this year was when I bought myself a vegtrug and tried my hand at planting vegetables for the first time.  I rather enthusiastically planted beetroot, carrots, cauliflower and spinach and completely overcrowded them… it was not a successful harvest. 

Recognising my limited knowledge of gardening, when I got the opportunity to volunteer for Headway Cambridgeshire and take part in a new gardening course at Thorpe Hall Hospice I jumped at the chance. Not only would I get the chance to learn various aspects of gardening from an experienced gardener and horticultural therapist but I would also learn how to support people with a disability to garden.

I will be learning alongside Headway clients who have experienced a brain injury, helping them to build their confidence and horticulture skills and already I can sense that this six month course is going to teach me way more than just how to sow a seed, or propagate a plant.

I have so much to learn and I feel sure my fellow volunteers will have plenty to teach me. I love gardening, but gardening with other like -minded people – who I feel pretty sure will all become friends by the end of the course – makes it all the more fun!

Kari-ann Whitbread is the Fundraising Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust.

Kari-ann's garden



The insider’s viewpoint (what volunteering at PECT is really like…)

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 22.08.2016

Time: 15:44

I wasn’t your usual starter at PECT. In fact, before joining I already knew the team, I had been visiting the office on a weekly basis and I even found myself attending the PECT staff day out last year! I’m assuming the title has already revealed my cover, but if you hadn’t already gathered, I started at PECT as a volunteer last year and now I am working here full time as an apprentice!

From the summer of last year, I started my volunteering placement with PECT in the marketing department. Having some previous experience in marketing for another organisation, I had an idea of the sort of thing to expect. However I knew nothing about PECT other than the fact that it is an environmental charity in Peterborough, so the experience would be new to me.

Beforehand, I was hoping that even as a volunteer, I would be given some responsibility, as I wanted to build on the skills I had already and develop my knowledge within marketing. In fact, I set my hopes quite high after seeing an article in ESP magazine about the volunteering opportunities that PECT has on offer, including anything from tree planting to becoming an events helper.

In particular, what appealed to me the most was the variety of projects that PECT delivers, as I thought this would mean there would be plenty of exciting opportunities to get involved in. However, the question was: were these preconceptions fulfilled or was I wholeheartedly disappointed?

I can confidently say neither was the case for me. From my first experience of meeting the team in the office, to the engaging work that I was given from day one, my expectations were soon exceeded. And what I thought was going to be a two week volunteering opportunity, turned into a year of voluntary work, followed now, by a year long apprenticeship!

Volunteering, particularly with a charity like PECT, is one of the best things you can do with your spare time. Particularly for me (I was a student on my summer break) thinking most days about what to do with all the free time I had, I wanted to utilise my time wisely - I’m so glad I did.

I found that PECT was very accommodating with my needs, which meant I was able to stay on as a volunteer when I began my A2s and just come in on a Wednesday afternoon. I found that volunteering has equipped me with many of the skills required within the workplace.

So, whether you’re a student like I was, or just looking for something to do in your spare time, PECT has an opportunity out there to suit you. Here’s a chance for you to make a real difference in your community, by contributing your time and talents to the work of PECT. In return for your work, think of how much you will be able to get out of it. You could take on a new challenge, develop skills to enhance your future and build connections with people and your community.

There are a whole host of volunteering opportunities at PECT, from admin based work through to tree planting, to events volunteering. But if you’re not sure what to choose, then why not give something a go? You may discover where your true talents lie.

To find out more information about volunteering with PECT, visit the volunteering page at www.pect.org.uk/volunteer.

Michaela Anthony is the Digital Marketing Apprentice at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT).



Hyperlocal Rainfall: August Progress Blog

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 15.08.2016

Time: 17:00

What a weekend that has just been! The Hyperlocal Rainfall app is now officially live after its launch at the Green Festival 2016. It was great to meet and speak to so many of you there! You can now download the app completely free from Google Play onto your Android phones by either searching for ‘Hyperlocal Rainfall’ through the store on your phone or by clicking here.

The launch day has been after 11 months of work for Hyperlocal Rainfall, PECT and our project partners Meniscus, Loughborough University and Anglia Ruskin University. Over this time we have had tremendous help from local residents and organisations, who have been providing input into the needs for the app’s development and testing it out for us so we could get it polished and ready to launch at the Green Festival.

What an exciting day the Green Festival was in the sunshine! There was a bit of rain first thing in the morning and I have to confess I was a bit happy that maybe I’d get to show people the app in action, mapping out and predicting the rainfall across the city but it wasn’t to be, the app showed no rain and in the end the sun came out and it was a lovely day for everyone!

At our stall it was great to have so many people interested in the app. I got to talk to so many of you about how you thought the app could help you in your daily lives, like taking the kids to school and walking your dog along with planning trips to the pub and activities such as gardening. I also got to explain the tech behind the app that our project partners have put together to get our accurate 5-minute predictions and route planning elements. If you want to find out more check out our information poster here.

I’m happy to say a lot of people at the Green Festival have now downloaded the app and those who downloaded the app at our stall on Saturday got to take home a free Hyperlocal Rainfall recycled water bottle! But the fun hasn’t stopped yet and you still have the chance to get your hands on a free Hyperlocal Rainfall water bottle at the Guided Walk!

On Tuesday 16th August 2016 I will be doing a guided walk where you can see how the app works and give it a go, meeting at the Guildhall in Cathedral Square at 12.30pm. All those that attend will receive a free Hyperlocal Rainfall water bottle! Come along for a nice leisurely walk along the Nene River towards the Boardwalks Nature Reserve and then back round into town. Take the chance to see if you would like to download the app, ask any questions you may have, and download your own copy! I look forward to seeing you there!

Freya Herman is the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall.



My journey back to who I was in Nigeria

Category: General

Date: 03.08.2016

Time: 14:02

So, last week it was reported in the news that plastic bag use has plummeted in England since the introduction of a 5p charge last year.

In the six months since the levy was brought in last October, 640 million plastic bags were used in the seven major supermarkets in England. In 2014, the waste reduction charity WRAP estimated the same shops had used 7.64 billion bags over the full year. If the trend were to continue over the year this would be a drop of 83%. Huge success! Why these statistics? I’ll come back to that later…

My name is Nneka and I am the Finance Manager at PECT. I have been in my role since August 2014 and have successfully managed to avoid writing a blog, up until now! I wouldn’t consider myself a wordsmith – give me numbers over words any day!

I grew up in a University community in the south east of Nigeria – a child of professors. We were in no way rich but neither were we deprived. We could pay for a driver, gardener and general help but I can assure you, my family didn’t believe in waste.

I am the last child of four so I have worn more than my fair share of hand-me-downs. You just had to look at my toys to see they were all missing an arm, a foot or a motor by the time I got to use them. And any packaging we reused until we had used the life out of it. We were the kings of recycling, but didn’t attribute a name to what we did at the time.

As a child, my first foray into the ‘business’ world, and of haggling, was selling used tin cans and newspapers/magazines to ladies called ‘Nwanyi Khom Khom’, which translates to ‘Khom Khom Lady’. (Khom Khom was the sound made if you were to beat a tin can like a drum). The Khom Khom ladies would call from house to house looking for what they could buy off the children. Adults weren’t too interested in the paltry amounts being made from those transactions – which came in handy for sweets from the corner shop. These items then got sold on to manufacturers in bulk and reused in the manufacturing process.

As a child, if we ever wanted to have soft drinks in the fridge (regular Coca-Cola, Pepsi etc.), they came in glass bottles which you would have to return to the retailer once empty. In fact, you had to own empty bottles to swap when you went to a retailer to buy. These bottles got sent back to the producers who then commercially washed and reused them.

It has been 10 years since I left Nigeria. I know for sure that the soft drinks companies have joined the plastic bandwagon but I’m not quite sure if the ‘Khom Khom ladies’ still go from door to door. I yearn for those good old days - the simpler days. But life happened. I grew up and inadvertently my life changed and probably my values too. Well, to be fair when you live in an environment where it’s cheaper and probably easier to buy a new television than have yours fixed (which I found out the hard way) or buy a new pair of shoes rather than visit a cobbler, then what do you do?

So, why did I add the statistic about plastic bags at the beginning? Well, I remember my first week at PECT and visiting a supermarket to buy some lunch with my manager at the time. As I reached out to put my purchases in a plastic bag, my manager (an environmental champion) said not to, and offered to carry them for me instead. At the time there wasn’t a 5p charge, but from that day I vowed to ditch the single-use plastic bags and try as much as possible to use re-usable bags.

And so began my journey back to who I was in Nigeria. That and a lot of other things I have picked up while at PECT have made me change my attitude and think more carefully about the environment. I continue to make changes to make sure that I live sustainably, so that my children and grandchildren get to enjoy the wonder of natural life all around us.

Nneka Ijere is the Finance Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust.



Communities Standing Together

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 01.08.2016

Time: 11:21

I have often wondered to myself what it means to be part of a community. If it is 'recognising myself amongst the collective’ this is most accurately revealed by looking around my house after the Transition Kings Cliffe Christmas Fair.

I can literally find myself within the eclectic mix of objects; the people represented by recycled jam jars from the Pickled Village, free and generous cake leftovers from Pudding and Pie, and Sue Kirk’s willow decorations hanging up on my wall (a basket weaver - but also great at braiding my hair on special occasions). A sense of meaning is made much stronger when my eyes rest on a supermarket bag in direct contradiction.

The harvests and crafts of these locals have been a constant element of my living room, kitchen, and more importantly lifestyle – throughout my childhood. It is the familiarity of the jam jar which gives it a curious power to capture a sense of my identity. In this moment I realise just how much the community has given me and how it is an essential part of self development.

I know Transition Kings Cliffe are aware just how many ways one can benefit from the community, promoting the knowledge that everything can be bought locally at one’s fingertips, with over 35 stalls in the Kings Cliffe village hall for the Transition Kings Cliffe Christmas Fair. With the slogan ‘avoid them all come to the hall’ they advertise local products that are ‘not just for Christmas’ but can be used throughout the whole year. The aim is to help everyone to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

As an intern here at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), I very quickly became aware that, similarly, environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything PECT does. When out of the village I have time to reflect on my amazement at the independence such a small place can achieve. Kings Cliffe’s sense of independent community should not be underestimated; not only do the village’s strolling observers prop up the local business, the individual businesses prop up each other, for instance the Little Soup Kitchen uses Mr Wooding’s Vegetables.

It is apt that the original Transition Movement, which started in 2006, was initially grown from two small places Kinsale (Ireland) and Totnes (England). The inspirational effect of these communities is self explanatory because by 2013 a total of 1,107 other places had adopted their own form of Transition movement, in more than 23 countries around the world. It is beautifully ironic that spread so globally are ideas about an independent lifestyle.

Here at PECT we work towards sustainable environmental change with ‘think global act local’, which helps support local economic circulation. It also serves to reduce the already detrimentally fast use of fossil fuels and encourage people to look into alternatives.

Establishing that people benefit from the environment, how does Transition Kings Cliffe give back to the land? Their community projects are inspiring - even benefitting sub communities. Last year they grew an orchard and the local primary school had access to the apples. They support the public’s options to change their lifestyle for the long term. With bike parking at the shop people are able to make more sustainable changes easily.

Similarly PECT has achieved so much in the way of local projects; in 2010 PECT launched Forest for Peterborough, aiming to plant over 180,000 trees in and around the city and surrounding countryside by 2030. The intention behind Forest for Peterborough is to improve the quality of the green space for the community as well as the air quality, and ultimately to plant one tree for every person living in the city.

The principals of community stem from the most natural instincts and basic of relationships. The need for community is integral to us all, and this is why it can be found everywhere, and ideally constantly improved; however I am lucky to live in what is already a beautiful example.

Marianne Habeshaw is a volunteer with PECT.