My name is Janine Starling. It has been two months since I left my role as Resources Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), and I thought this would be a good time to reflect back on my nine years at the independent environmental charity.
In 2006, as a young graduate, I stumbled across PECT – I was relatively familiar with Peterborough, so was surprised to learn it was one of four UK Environment Cities. After starting my new role my eyes were opened to the vast environmental initiatives happening in the city. Over my nine years in the role I saw the charity and Peterborough flourish; I would love to share some of my highlights…
Probably the most memorable project for me was Forest for Peterborough. I had managed PECT’s Forest for Peterborough project since the idea was first seeded. I enjoyed the challenges tree planting in an urban city brought and I fondly remember the very first planting event in Thorpe Meadows. We were delighted by the volunteer support we received from both local residents and the business community. It was a true community event, I met lots of amazing people, and volunteers even came armed with delicious food to share. If you haven’t been down to the site recently I would recommend a visit – it’s a wonderful and peaceful wildlife haven.
One of the greatest things about Peterborough is its sense of community, which has been confirmed by the most recent award-winning Harvest Festival event. If you do one thing after reading this blog, please get involved with your local community by signing up to green skills share scheme Greeniversity. My most memorable event was Apple Day at Crown Lakes Country Park in 2007. On a beautiful October day, hundreds of people attended the event to celebrate the great British apple. We planted a heritage apple orchard, pressed our own juice and played apple-related games whilst dancing to folk music. It was such a fun and well attended event and we left a lasting legacy - please go and pick and eat the apples there this autumn.
I was lucky enough to be involved in PECT’s 20th birthday celebrations. A timeline was published showing highlights of the charity’s achievements over the 20 years – it was honestly hard to edit it down! I learnt so much about PECT’s past, from re-introducing otters into the River Nene to the building of the Flag Fen Millennium Centre. In 2013 four trees were planted in St. John’s Square as a thank you to the city for supporting PECT through the years.
Finally I want to mention a project that three of my ex-colleagues will remember very well – Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group. This was a partnership project with the University of Bath, which was testing whether people were more likely to change their habits to become more environmentally-friendly if they had recently moved house. This project started in the economic crash when no one was moving house! My team worked incredibly hard to find those new movers, and it was all worthwhile as the outcome was positive – it was proved that there is a small window of opportunity when someone moves to change their habits to help them to live a more sustainable lifestyle. To find out more please do read the paper published by the University of Bath by clicking here.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment working for PECT, it certainly is a very special place. It not only achieves great things for the community of Peterborough and beyond, it creates a working environment that stretches and develops its staff whilst building a supportive and friendly team. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start my professional career. I still support the work PECT does by giving a monthly donation because I believe PECT’s work achieves a really positive impact on the environment.