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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

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.



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.



Progress on the WestRaven Community Cafe

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 26.07.2016

Time: 14:01

Dear readers, it has been a while since my last blog about the development of the WestRaven Community Cafe!

You will be pleased to know that we have been granted the change of use for the property at 24-28 Hampton Court, Peterborough. We have also decided on a contractor to undertake the work. On the 13 July 2016 a partnership board meeting was held to approve the set-up cost and the request for extra funds.

Once this has been approved, we can start work on the conversion. Once the work has been completed there will be a two-week period to set up the inside and for staff training. We will then be inviting local businesses to an event to promote the café and what we can offer to them in the way of hospitality and events. In addition to this, we will also be inviting local volunteers and volunteering services to get involved with the café.

We aim to have a ‘soft opening’ to make sure all systems are in place, and then later we will have a full opening event to promote the café to the local community. The café opening hours will be 8am-4.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 11.30am-3.30pm on Sunday. On Monday to Saturday we will be offering breakfast, grab and go, and a simple lunch menu which will change every two weeks. On a Sunday we will be offering a Sunday roast, which customers will need to book a table for. One day a week we will be offering a free three-course meal in partnership with Peterborough Foodcycle.

A community engagement officer will organise the events that will take place in the café during opening hours. The youth in localities team will run the Garage Youth Group for 14 to 18 year olds. Ideas for the future include everything from pop-up restaurants, alfresco foods, senior lunch clubs, street foods, intergenerational cooking and cultural foods from around the world. We will also operate a Loyalty Card scheme and for volunteers a discount in relation to the volunteer hours.

I have also been keeping busy piloting the Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food cooking classes with two local primary schools, running cooking classes at City College Peterborough for Greeniversity and for Cross Keys Homes, and we also provided a BBQ for Ravensthorpe School’s sports day and summer fair and at the local Sue Ryder event in Hampton Court, Westwood.

If you would like to know more information or would like to come and get involved with the café or other activities that WestRaven’s Big Local are doing then we would love to hear from you! Please email kevin.earl@pect.org.uk.

Current views of the soon-to-be cafe!




Hyperlocal Rainfall: July Progress Blog

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 12.07.2016

Time: 17:05

We have had a lot of fun over the past month working with some great people across Peterborough, who have been helping us test out the Hyperlocal Rainfall app. The main part of this testing is now coming to a close and it has provided us with some fantastic insight into what Peterborough residents want from this app, and how people will actually use it around the city!

The testers have come from a variety of backgrounds, including people who want ‘to get active’ , city workers wanting to know the ‘everyday weather on the commute’, or those simply wanting to see ‘how it could help planning journeys’ or ‘timing dog walks’.

We let the testers loose with the app, getting them to see how useful they found the app’s ability to link their journeys with specific weather predictions. For the testing, we asked the participants to use the app as if they had just downloaded it and along the way they gave us feedback on what they liked, didn’t like, and what they thought could be improved. We are happy to report that most of the feedback so far has been positive and the few improvements suggested are constructive and will only make our app stronger and easier to use.

Participants that have already completed their user testing have said they are happy to carry on using the app beyond the testing for their own personal use, because they have enjoyed using the app and have found it useful. Some of the great comments included:

‘I have really enjoyed using it. The routes are great, the routes are the best thing about the app’ - Participant 2

‘There were 2 days last week when I waited at home for an extra 10 minutes before I set off. Really helpful, otherwise I would have actually got drenched’ - Participant 7

To keep you all updated here is what the latest test version of the Hyperlocal Rainfall app is looking like:

Now we move onto wrapping up the remaining user tests and getting a few improvements made to the app from the testers’ helpful feedback. In addition to this we are excitedly getting ready for PECT’s Green Festival on Saturday 13 August where we are aiming to have the Hyperlocal Rainfall app ready to go for Android users! I hope to see you there!

Freya Herman is the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall.



Think global, act local

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 07.07.2016

Time: 12:11

The environment sector’s mantra ‘think global, act local’ came to mind when reading about the research of Erik van Sebille, an Oceanographer at Imperial College London. Van Sebille’s work has shown that, in the space of just two years, most of the plastic dumped in seas around the UK travels to the Arctic.

With the region’s fish and wildlife already in danger from the effects of climate change and the melting of the polar ice cap, the climate scientist reckons it “is probably the worst place for plastic to be at this moment”.  

Some try to downplay the UK’s role in the pollution of the world’s oceans, pointing out that other regions (notably Southeast Asia) dump a far greater volume of plastics into the seas. However, ocean currents around the UK mean that plastic can be swept north very quickly, making pollution in this area particularly significant. Van Sebille’s assessment is that the UK’s waste “has a very big impact on one of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world”.

That actions close to home can have such a disastrous impact globally is undeniably shocking. However, ‘think global, act local’ works both ways- small, personal actions can have a positive impact on the rest of the world, as well as a negative one. Everyone can take simple steps to contribute towards protecting and improving the global environment.

Take a look at PECT’s tips on how to be greener at home, school and work for some great ways to get started. If recycling a single plastic bottle or tin can feels insignificant, remember that respectively, these steps would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb or a TV for 3 hours. All of these materials can hold great value.

As one of people credited with first using the phrase ‘think global, act local’, the American philosopher Buckminster Fuller, said: “Pollution is nothing but resources we’re not harvesting.”

Emma Taylor is the Healthy Homes Project Support Officer at Peterborough Environment City Trust.



Hyperlocal Rainfall: June Progress

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 22.06.2016

Time: 09:30

With our beta app testing (the second phase of software testing) kicking off this week for Hyperlocal Rainfall we have been pretty busy over the past month getting everything set up and the app ready for our user testers. This has given me the opportunity to finally try out the beta version of the app for myself and I thought I’d share my experience to give everyone a taste of what the app will offer!

The rain came and went pretty fast last week, with quite a few sharp, heavy showers, and I think I may have been the only person in the country happy about this, because it gave me a chance to put the app to the test!

I thought I would test out the Hyperlocal Rainfall app by planning a couple of short walks around Peterborough city centre, trying to get some nice walks in between the showers. On my second walk I could see via the app that I might get caught by some heavy rain towards the end of my walk, so to see if this actually would be the case I grabbed my coat and planned to take some shelter when I got to that part of my walk (in the lovely gardens behind the Cathedral)! Just 3 minutes before the app had predicted the rain came and, from the app, it looked like I’d have a short wait before the next break in the rain. It was right, and with a bit of patience I could finish my walk and get back to the office nice and dry!

Now the version of the app I was using only provided prediction every 10 minutes so I was quite pleased with the rain starting within 3 minutes of the prediction! But our lucky testers will be getting our full predictions down to 5 minute intervals, so hopefully they will have an even better experience with it. 

Also, in the last week I’ve managed to use the app to avoid some very heavy rain on my walk home from the supermarket, which I was quite thankful for. I’m now looking forward to using Hyperlocal Rainfall as a staple of my commute to and from the train station and helping me be more prepared for my longer cycles when I’m not at work.  

Over the next month we will have our user testers trying out the beta version of the Hyperlocal Rainfall app, finding out how it can support them walking and cycling around Peterborough, what other uses they may find for it, and if there are any more tweaks that are needed to improve it. From there we will be gearing up for the Green Festival on Saturday 13th August where we will be showcasing the app for everyone, stay posted for more details!

As always, if you want to know more about the Hyperlocal Rainfall project and how you can get involved please get in touch!

Freya Herman is the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall. For more information on the app, please email freya.herman@pect.org.uk.



The future looks bright with volunteers

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 02.06.2016

Time: 10:41

I sometimes get the feeling that if all the people who volunteer in the UK went on strike the whole country would fall to pieces, what with cuts to public services and third sector organisations struggling to gain funding. I find, more and more, that the people who are helping to get things done are ordinary people who are willing to give up their time to make the things they care about happen.

Volunteering is a very rewarding occupation and there is certainly a ‘feel good’ factor about giving something back; it keeps people active and provides a boost in confidence for all ages, plus is a great way of beating social isolation and boredom for many.

I volunteer for Backyard Food and find that it’s a great way to hang out with my friends, fellow volunteers who I’ve met since my involvement. I feel good that I’m part of a movement that’s offering a sustainable alternative to supermarket mayhem and love my days in the shop where I get to be in beautiful surroundings, and interact with shoppers and hear their stories and share mine, even if that is just chatting about the weather! Plus I also get to play shopkeeper which is great fun!

Many of our projects at PECT rely upon the support of volunteers, from those who plant trees for Forest for Peterborough to our regular office volunteers Peter and Karen, who keep the rest of us in check! Karen busies herself in the office two mornings a week and with 15 years of service is our longest-standing PECT member. One of the community’s team projects that would not exist without support from local resident volunteers is our Big Local team in WestRaven (Westwood and Ravensthorpe).

Funded by the Big Lottery’s Local Trusts, whose mission is to enable residents to make their communities and their areas even better places in which to live, WestRaven were lucky enough to be awarded one million pounds to spend over a 10 year period to improve their area and the lives of the people who live there. I’ve been working with the resident volunteers there for two years now and during that time I’ve really come to appreciate the dedication and skills of the people involved, and made some new friends along the way!

The two main thrusts of the project are to open a community cafe (watch this space for the date of the grand opening late this summer) and to create a community garden on a piece of land adjacent to Ravensthorpe school. Other things they are up to include creating a space for the youth of the area to be safe and happy and a ‘community chest’ where local people can apply for funding for their own projects.

The thing I’ve been most impressed with is the tenacity shown by the people involved; it’s been a long journey, which hasn’t been without its challenges (who ever thought opening a cafe would be easy?) but the residents just keep pushing on and doing their upmost best to stay in positive spirits and resolve problems as and when they arise. They have also created some impressive partnerships along the way, with the prison (the only Big Local area with inmates as residents), Cross Keys Homes, the local schools and many more.

The future is looking bright for WestRaven. Once the cafe is open and the garden is fully up and running these two places will be a great springboard for even more people to get involved and reap the rewards of volunteering.

If you would like to get involved with this project or other PECT projects please email volunteering@pect.org.uk. If you are thinking about volunteering elsewhere in the city click on the link to PCVS, there are also links to Backyard Foods and PECT volunteering opportunities.

My message is get involved – the rewards are fantastic and it’s a really good feeling to be giving something back, and, who knows you may even, like me, make some really good friends along the way.

Karen Igho is Communities Team Manager for PECT.



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.



Healthy Homes: Top Tips to Cut Energy Bills

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 18.04.2016

Time: 15:34

Throughout 2016, PECT’s Healthy Homes project is working with residents in Peterborough and Fenland to tackle fuel poverty. When a household struggles to pay for adequate heating due to a combination of low income, high energy costs and poor insulation, it’s classed as being in fuel poverty.

It’s a big problem, affecting about 8% of homes in Fenland and 10% in Peterborough, and has real consequences not only on a household’s finances but also on health. The impact of cold homes is estimated to cost the NHS £1.5 billion and accounts for more than 18,000 premature deaths each year.

If you live in Peterborough or Fenland, you can get in touch with the Healthy Homes team on 01733 866440 to book a home visit, which covers changing tariff, tips to cut energy costs and home improvements such as insulation and boiler replacements for eligible households. However, everyone can benefit from some simple tips to cut energy bills, boosting income and health, while cutting carbon emissions:

1. Loyalty doesn’t always pay! You could save hundreds of pounds by switching to a different tariff or supplier. You can compare prices in a few minutes using uSwitch.
2. Check if you’re eligible for any heating benefits such as the Warm Home Discount, Cold Weather Payments or Winter Fuel Payments
3. If you have an oil boiler, consider joining a buying group to cut costs.
4. Review how you pay for your bills - most suppliers will offer a discount for paying by direct debit or using internet billing, usually around £75 per year.
5. Small behaviour changes can have a big effect - reducing tumble drier use by one load per week can save £55 per year and using a washing up bowl for dishes rather than filling the sink can cut your annual energy bill by £30. There are more tips to reduce energy usage on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.
6. Check if your bills are correct - are the costs based on actual or estimated meter readings (a letter ‘A’ next to the reading indicates an actual reading; ‘E’, estimated; ‘C’, reading made by the customer)? Accurate meter readings are really important to avoid over or under paying, which could lead to a big credit or debt over time. For more information about understanding energy bills, check out uSwitch’s guide.
7. Upgrade to more efficient appliances and insulation. Healthy Homes might be able to help with this if you live in Peterborough or Fenland. Even DIY measures such as loft insulation can slash costs - a 3-bedroom semi-detached house will typically save £140 per year, with a payback period of two years.
8. Consider investing in renewable energy sources. At the moment, Peterborough City Council residents have the opportunity to apply for free solar panels - find out more on the Council's website.

Emma Taylor is the Healthy Homes Project Support Officer.



Hyperlocal Rainfall: April progress

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 14.04.2016

Time: 16:36

Whilst our Hyperlocal Rainfall app is working its way through the final stages of its initial development I thought I would take this opportunity to give a better idea of the concepts and aims behind this project, how we are achieving these, and where we will be taking Hyperlocal Rainfall over the next few months!

The weather is one of the main factors that influences how we choose to travel, and changeable or bad weather can be very off-putting when it comes to walking and cycling places. We believe that there is an opportunity here to minimise the negative influences of the weather by providing more accurate information; because this will give people more confidence in when to travel and how to be properly prepared for the day’s weather, allowing them to choose more active and sustainable options. 

Hyperlocal Rainfall is the first project of its kind to bring together a route-planning tool with hyperlocal (small, localised to a specific area) weather predictions. To be able to make this an effective tool for people to use around Peterborough, our app will be providing rainfall predictions in greater detail than currently available from other services, with predictions every five minutes for the hour ahead compared to the standard one-hour intervals.

To achieve this innovative service we are using a combination of rain radar data and historical weather data with additional real-time information from local weather stations, recently installed on schools across Peterborough. This allows us to see what is happening at many different levels with great accuracy and project partners Meniscus will be able to use their own analytics platform, MAP, to translate it all into our accurate, short-term hyperlocal predictions.

Within the Hyperlocal Rainfall app you will be able to plan your trip with our route planner (using Google Maps), which will then be overlaid with our rainfall predictions for your specific journey. Each journey will be provided with its own personal rainfall predictions that will be adjusted for how you choose to travel and when you will be starting your trip. A great part of the app is the more you take a trip the better it will get at predicting your journey time (improving on Google Maps), so for your regular trips and commutes you will get more personal rainfall predictions.

For more information about how the app will work have a look at our information poster here. By helping to increase the amount of walking and cycling around Peterborough there could be many positive impacts for both the local area and residents alike. There are countless environmental benefits, such as improving local air quality and reducing carbon emissions from lowering congestions, as well as personal benefits in increasing your fitness and wellbeing whilst reducing the risk of many health conditions, such as heart disease.

In the coming months PECT will be providing further information on how walking and cycling more can help you, and providing support to get you started and keep going with active sustainable travel. This will all contribute towards Peterborough become a greener, healthier, and more sustainable city, so watch this space!

We really want to engage with people from Peterborough to help this app be truly reflective of everyone’s needs, so going into the summer months we will be looking for Peterborough residents to get involved in the project again to help us try out and test the app around the city!

This will provide us with important feedback in how the app is working and if there are any further improvements that needs to be made. If this is something you think you would be interested in getting involved with or would like more information about the project, please do get in touch! Email freya.herman@pect.org.uk.

Freya Herman in the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall.



Smart Meters: The Next Generation

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 13.04.2016

Time: 16:36

As you may have heard, the government has set the target of installing a smart meter in every household in the UK by 2020. Smart meters are next generation meters for both gas and electricity; they are set to replace your existing meters, which use decades old technology. Smart technology is beginning to revolutionise how we live our lives and the introduction of these meters is another step towards an interactive, technology-dominated lifestyle.

How do smart meters work?

Smart meters use a secure national communication network to automatically and wirelessly send your actual energy usage to your supplier, it’s up to you how often your meter will send this data, but it could be as often as every half hour.

Your old meter does have to be taken out and replaced with a new meter, you’ll also receive an in-house display that will be synced with your meter to provide you with all the information that your old meter gave you, and more.

What are the benefits of smart metering?

A better understanding of how you use energy at home

As mentioned previously, your new smart meter will come with an electronic display, which you can plug in anywhere at your home. This will allow you to see your energy use live, in turn allowing you to understand what items in your house use the most electricity and therefore cost you the most.

So for example, when you turn the kettle on you will be able to see the kw/h of electricity that your house is currently using rise, the amount you have spent over the day will also increase. You should be able to relate this to all the appliances in your home and have a good understanding of your most expensive appliances in your home.

The display also allows you to find out information about your tariff, such as the standing charge and the unit price, having this information at your fingertips will also allow you to make informed decisions about whether or not to switch tariff or provider.  

The end of meter readings and estimated bills

Meter readings will now be live, its up to you how often you send the information from your meter across to your energy company, but it could be up to every half hour. Meaning that there is no need for you to ring up and give a meter reading or receive an estimated bill. This feature will be extremely helpful for anyone that finds getting to their meter a struggle.

Prepay meter users

Smart meters will prove most beneficial for houses that use prepayment meters, particularly for when you are close to running out of credit on your meter. Having an understanding of what uses what will allow you to make informed decisions about what you can do with out for a couple of days, if necessary.

Having awareness of how little some household items cost to use will also help those people who are scared of using too much and putting themselves in debt, particularly when it comes to heating their homes in winter time. For example, some people sacrifice heating their whole home and just use an electric heater in one room, which in most cases is actually a more expensive way of keeping yourself warm. This should allow residents to make better decisions about how they keep themselves warm.

What’s next?

As smart meters begin to integrate with other smart technologies it is very possible that we will be looking at a brand new type of tariff being made available to the public known as a, ‘time of use tariff’.  These tariffs will be similar to Economy 7 tariffs in the sense that they will offer you cheaper rates during off-peak hours, such as during the working week. This should hopefully help to distribute the demand for electricity away from peak hours, helping the grid to cope with the growth in demand for electricity in the UK.   

Hugh Smith is the Project Officer for Warm Homes Peterborough.



Not waving but drowning in a sea of waste

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 11.04.2016

Time: 14:49

We’re drowning in a sea of waste, especially plastic waste which carpets our environment on land and in water.

Walk down your street and note the amount of waste on the pavements, in the gutters and in people’s front gardens or parking areas: drinks containers (plastic, tin and glass), cigarette packets (cellophane wrapped), snack and sweet wrappings.

Local authority street cleaning services cannot cope by themselves with this litter mountain! We all have a part to play in binning and recycling litter even if we didn’t drop it.

Clear any rubbish from the space in front of your home and keep the pavement and gutter clean. If you have time, arm yourself with a litter-picker and clean a neighbourhood street or two, especially of recyclables. If you like company, there might be a local volunteer litter-picking team - your local councillor should be able to put you in touch – or why not start one yourself?

Plastic is the No.1 villain in this scenario. What can be done to reduce the use of plastic in modern life?

As a consumer, only buy food and drink in non-plastic containers (preferably bio-degradable material). You might want to ask your MP to persuade government to impose an environmental levy on the manufacture and use of plastic containers or bring in regulations to make use of recyclable plastic in the food and drink industry mandatory.

Some of you might not recognise the grimy vision painted above. But you do eat fish, don’t you?

Plastic pollution of the world’s oceans has reached extreme levels, both as surface-floating debris and more significantly as micro plastic confetti which can coat the ocean bed. Micro plastics act as sponges for oceanic toxins that affect the fish that ingest them, rendering these fish increasingly unfit for human consumption. We now have ‘Garbage Patches’ in most of the world’s oceans.

Human ingenuity is trying to ameliorate this catastrophic situation: the Ocean Cleanup project (www.theoceancleanup.com) is developing large-scale floating barriers which funnel surface debris into smaller areas for extraction; Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s (www.seashepherd.org) ‘Vortex Project’ harvests ocean plastic for eco-innovator ‘Bionic Yarn’ to turn into their unique clothing fibres.

On land, Japanese scientists have discovered enzymes found in the bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis which can break down Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic into environmentally harmless constituents in a number of weeks.

Plastic pollution affects us all, so what are you going to do about your plastic use? Don’t drown in a sea of waste!

Peter Reynolds is Greeniversity Peterborough’s volunteer administrator.



WestRaven Big Local

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 29.03.2016

Time: 12:15

Hello, my name is Kevin and I have recently joined the team here at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) a Peterborough-based environmental charity that runs projects both locally and nationally.

I have joined the team to work on an exciting project with the communities of Westwood and Ravensthorpe. A while back, Big Lottery funding with the Local Trust awarded 150 areas across the country each with £1,000,000 over 10 years. To qualify, the area had to be considered as a deprived area and not received Lottery funding before.

The Local Trust mission is to enable residents to make their communities a better place in which to live. So they created the Big Local, their first and major initiative. In Peterborough the local trust went about setting up a community group within the district of Westwood and Ravensthorpe, which is now known as WestRaven Big Local.

After a lot of consultation with residents on how the community could improve or make a dramatic change to the area they live in and improve the lives of local people, the board decided that a community café and green space would be the two projects they would like spend some of the Lottery money on.

So the resident-led project teamed up with a locally-trusted organisation. WestRaven Big Local chose Cross Keys Homes. The WestRaven Big Local is also working with partner organisations around the local area, including Ravensthorpe and Highlees Primary Schools, Sodexo justice services HMP Peterborough, Peterborough youth in localities services and the charity PECT.

Within Hampton Court in Westwood there is a shopping precinct, which had a double unit for rent. The WestRaven Big Local board made the necessary enquiries and secured a lease on the property with PECT being the leaseholder.

West Raven Big Local then decided that they would need key staff in place to facilitate the running of the café, a Chef Manager and a Community Engagement Officer. That is when I joined PECT and WestRaven Big Local, to manage and set up a Community Café, because I have been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years.

I am a fully qualified chef and have worked in various hotels, restaurants and contract caterers in my career. My previous job was as an Operation Support and Development Chef, working across the health care division of a contract caterer with 150 care homes. My job was to implement staff training and menus, develop concepts and offers to enhance service and to give dignity to individuals.

But this will be no ordinary café! Within the café we plan to have a safe and comfortable youth area with facilities that they have chosen. There will also be a domestic kitchen setting to enable us to train local residents in cooking from scratch, health benefits, and simple budgeting skills. There will also be an area that can be used during the day for community classes such as arts and crafts, job clubs and well-being courses. We will also have a commercial kitchen and café seating area during the day. Another thing that we are working on is pop-up restaurants in conjunction with local residents, community groups, and senior citizens’ lunch clubs and a meals on wheels service for sheltered housing, but to name just a few of the ideas.

In conjunction with Peterborough Prison, The Job Centre and Peterborough College we can offer work experience placements for local residents of Westwood and Ravensthorpe, Jack Hunt School and the wider area, to help get people into work.
Ravensthorpe Primary School kindly donated a piece of land that WestRaven Big Local can use as the green space project, which we plan to use as a ‘plot to plate’ project to enhance the café. We are now at the stage that we will start to renovate the shop unit so I have included some before pictures, and if you watch this space we will update on the ‘after pictures’ once each part is completed.

If you are interested in getting involved and can spare some time as a volunteer, either running an event for the local community or helping out in the café – or even if you have an idea for a pop-up restaurant – then please feel free to drop me an email to discuss this further on kevin.earl@pect.org.uk.

This area will be the main washing-up area. The room to the right with the hatches in the wall will be the main kitchen and the room straight ahead will be the office and staff facilities.

This will be the main kitchen, the hatch will be extended and heat lamps and stainless steel shelves put in place.

This is the view of the café’s main seating area from the washing area. There will be a servery unit and chilled decks here. To the left is the community space. 

This is the community space area, there are lots of activities planned for here. This will be divided from the café by sliding doors that could be opened to double the space when we do a pop up restaurant.



Hyperlocal Rainfall: March Progress Blog

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 10.03.2016

Time: 10:24

The independent charity Peterborough Environment City Trust has teamed up with Meniscus, Anglia Ruskin University, and Loughborough University to launch a brand new app-development project in Peterborough called Hyperlocal Rainfall, funded by Innovate UK.

The project is looking to deliver a brand new phone app that will help people to make informed decisions about travel around Peterborough, by providing up-to-the-minute and hyper-localised weather forecasts, enabling users to walk and cycle more by taking the weather into account and hence improve their health and wellbeing. Freya Herman is the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall.

Over the past few months we have taken the first major steps with the Hyperlocal Rainfall project with an amazing amount of help and support from the people of Peterborough! Now we are waiting excitedly, but patiently, to see the initial version of our app which is currently in the development phase.

To get us to this point we have engaged with over 30 Peterborough residents, who wanted to get involved with the development of the app. Late last year, we held one- to-one interviews to find out how having access to better knowledge about when and where it is going to rain could support the participants with walking, jogging, and cycling and how best it could help people travel sustainably around Peterborough.

Earlier this year, we also undertook group discussion sessions across the city to develop on the feedback from the interviews. These sessions helped us build a better picture of how people would want to interact with Hyperlocal Rainfall’s improved short-term rainfall predictions to plan their journeys and (with the help of many brightly coloured pens!) how the app could look.

Participants made great use of the coloured pens to give an idea of how they think the app could look

The feedback from these sessions was overwhelmingly positive and helpful, providing us with lots of great information to build on. The sessions also gave us interesting insights into other ways the Hyperlocal Rainfall app may be useful, such as when to hang out the laundry or have your afternoon BBQ!

With our project partners from Loughborough University we pulled together all the information; highlighting key points, interesting ideas, and trends in the feedback about how the app can best show rainfall and other information to help you plan your journeys around the weather. The results from this have now been handed over to our other project partners Meniscus Ltd and Anglia Ruskin University to directly feed into the app’s development, which aims to provide personalised information to the users.

Pulling together all the information from the group discussions with our project partners from Loughborough University

So, all this fantastic information we have gathered over the past few months is now guiding the app’s development process and though it may not be possible or feasible to fit in all the ideas we would like from these sessions we know that the input is helping us work towards the strongest and most supportive app for sustainable travel around Peterborough. I would like to take this opportunity to again thank everybody who has been involved so far with Hyperlocal Rainfall, it has been greatly appreciated and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we have!

There is still a lot of work to be done on Hyperlocal Rainfall and our next step is to get the initial version of the app complete, a step I am very excited about as I can’t wait to see our app in action for the first time! Then from here, we will be looking to run user trials to test the app around Peterborough to allow us to develop it further and make any improvements that may be needed.

This is the first in a series of monthly progress blogs on everything that is happening with Hyperlocal Rainfall, so if you want to keep an eye on how this project is developing and get more information on the initial version of the app, check back next month for my April update!



Celebrating the achievements of people in Peterborough

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 29.02.2016

Time: 17:27

I was fortunate enough to attend the Peterborough Civic Awards one Wednesday afternoon in February, after two of our fantastic volunteers were told they were due to receive awards at the event.

I would - of course - always say that our volunteers are the best and truly deserving of winning Civic Awards. Their hard work and dedication makes a massive difference to what we can achieve as a charity.

On the night, our volunteer Michaela won the Young Person Civic Award for the passion and initiative she has shown. In addition, Peter won an Environmental Achievement Civic Award for volunteering with our green skills share scheme Greeniversity. It was absolutely fantastic that they were honoured for the difference they make to their local community.

What was so wonderful about the night was having the chance to meet lots of other volunteers and to hear about all the other great works people are doing across the city. The awards are a great way to say thank you to the people who go out of their way to help others and to recognise all the great work that they do.

Just some of the other winners' achievements (and there's far too many to mention all of them) include organising collection points to support refugees in Calais, the significant impact made by being a teacher for more than 40 years, being an ambassador for celebrating diversity, helping the city to achieve Fairtrade City Status and many more.

It makes me feel massively proud about the achievements of people in Peterborough.

Laura Fanthorpe is Marketing and Communications Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust.



Working on Hyperlocal Rainfall

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 26.01.2016

Time: 17:58

So I have been with Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) for three whole months now and what an enjoyable time it has been so far – from being a part of a great team, to getting to meet and work with so many people around Peterborough and even planting a few trees along the way!

I am the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall, where we are developing an app that will be able to accurately predict rainfall within 5 minute intervals for the hour ahead of you, for your specific journeys, to help support and encourage Peterborough residents to use sustainable transport around the city.

I came to PECT late last year for this project having recently graduated from the University of East Anglia studying Environmental Science. I have had a passion for nature and environmental issues from a young age and my focus has grown around communicating and engaging people and communities with these environmental issues, such as sustainability and climate change.

I saw the Hyperlocal Rainfall project as a great opportunity to get involved with something truly innovative, getting people engaged with sustainable actions in a way that hadn’t been done before, and giving people a tool they themselves can use to make a real difference to their lives and their local environment. I am a true believer in ‘think global, act local’, and once I started to read up on PECT and the work it carries out I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

Over the past few months I have learnt bucket loads and Hyperlocal Rainfall is developing nicely, having received input and help from nearly 40 people across Peterborough in how they would want this app to work for them and how best it could benefit the city.

All the feedback has been promising and I am really looking forward to getting even more people involved with Hyperlocal Rainfall over the next year. It will be great to meet more of you and to see the difference the app will be able to make in supporting the use of sustainable transport in people’s daily lives and in having a positive impact on our local environment!

Freya Herman is PECT's Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall.



Reflecting on a Sustainable Christmas

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 08.01.2016

Time: 15:42

Each year at PECT we run a Secret Santa between the staff with the condition that any gift must be ethically sourced, handmade or second hand. Whilst obviously this isn’t a requirement for the rest of the gifts I give it does influence the rest of my Christmas and I think it is a good reminder for the rest of the year too.

From gifts, to food, to wrapping paper, and all the other elements of my Christmas time this PECT tradition makes me question how I do things. Last year I gave a lot of family and friends homemade cakes, biscuits, or other sweet treats as their present or part of it. Not only was this a great way for me to save money, at what is always an expensive time of year, but I think it shows more care and attention than simply giving someone a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine.

This year, although I gave fewer homemade gifts, I did reuse a lot of old gift bags from previous years and attempt to be ethical in my gift giving where possible with Fair Trade items.

Outside of gifts (and the birth of Jesus!), one of the biggest things people associate with Christmas is the big roast dinner (or dinners) which many of us make our way through over the festive period. This is an opportunity for us to think about the sustainability of the choices we make.

Many people will be eating turkey, sausages, and bacon, probably in greater amounts than normal. Whilst switching to a nut roast and some extra Brussels might be the most sustainable option it isn’t realistic to expect everyone to do that. However, at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year we can be conscious about where the meat we buy comes from.

Free range chickens and turkeys, pork and beef from high welfare farms (look for the RSPCA assured logo) and seafood from sustainable fisheries (look for the MSC logo) are all ways in which we can shop more ethically. With all the varieties of accompanying vegetables we can shop seasonally, locally and organically. This helps to keep your carbon footprint down, and reduce the demand for less sustainably grown fruit and vegetables, whilst often providing a higher quality of produce.

How and where we shop has a big effect on how sustainable we are as individuals and households, and although Christmas is a time when we do more food and other shopping than normal and excess is in our minds, good habits are needed for the whole year, so why not try and make a change for 2016 and be more ethical with how you shop?

This blog was written by Andrew Ellis, Fundraising Officer at Peterborough Environment City Trust.



Merry Christmas from everyone at PECT!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 24.12.2015

Time: 11:30

We've had a very exciting year, with some fantastic achievements, including presenting a Green Festival that engaged with over 10,000 participants and 38 partner organisations across the city. We also launched our new Peterborough Eco Framework - embedding knowledge of sustainability issues into classes to inspire the next generation of forward-thinking students. Plus we've now planted over 84,000 trees as part of the Forest for Peterborough project.

A huge thank you to everyone that has contributed to the successes of the past year. We look forward to working with people across the city and beyond throughout 2016 to continue to achieve a positive impact together!



Creating handmade gifts

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 15.12.2015

Time: 14:23

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. Sadly for many though, the cost of buying gifts for loved ones can put a dampener on the festivities, but there are cheaper alternatives – you can make your own gifts!

Yes, I know, who on earth has time to make gifts these days and what if you can’t knit, build or have absolutely no creativity? Well, it’s easier than you think (especially with help from projects such as Greeniversity) and it’s always nice when you know some thought has gone into a gift.  As a child, I remember getting quite random gifts off my relatives that left me wondering, is this really for me? Having a gift made especially for you shows a lot of thought has gone into it and it doesn’t need to be expensive.

One year, I got my friend a shoe box full of purple things, her favourite colour. Ok, so this ranged from chocolate to cat food but it was all purple, and the thought was most definitely there! Funnily enough, the same year, my friend gave me a shoe box of things that reminded her of me. I can’t remember everything in the box, but there was a wind up mouth that jumped around chattering ….I think she was trying to tell me I talk too much!

There are so many websites now where you can get ideas for handmade gifts and decorations that there really is no excuse to resort to soap or handkerchiefs for relatives or Secret Santas.

Admittedly, it can take time to make a gift, but just think how the recipient will feel knowing you’re investing something way more precious than money in their gift… your time and thought! If hand-made gifts really aren’t an option, then take a moment to source ethical stores or shop locally at one of the many Xmas craft fairs that pop up at this time of year.

Happy ethical Xmas to you all!

This blog was written by Kari-ann Whitbread, Peterborough Environment City Trust's Fundraising Manager.



Aiming for a green Christmas

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 14.12.2015

Time: 10:22

With the latest forecasts suggesting that rain and gales are more likely than a white Christmas for most of the UK, why not aim for a green Christmas instead?

Research from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) suggests that households in England will create nearly three quarters of a million tonnes of extra waste at Christmas – an average of five extra black bags per household. Even just removing all of the recyclables in this extra rubbish would save 352,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to flying Santa around the world (by plane, not reindeer!) 64,500 times on Christmas Eve.

If you want to ‘green’ your celebrations, the Christmas tree is an apt place to start. If you opt for a real tree, if possible planted in a large pot, then a tree can be reused for several years or even longer if it’s replanted outdoors. If you don’t have the space to replant, recycling is offered by many local authorities and garden centres - Recycle Now has a list of tree recycling points. Sending a tree to landfill costs more than £2.30 per tree, as well as being a missed opportunity to provide nutrients for the soil or create mulch to use as a low-cost landscaping material.

When it comes to decorations, simply switching to LED bulbs can reduce energy consumption by up to 95%. LED decorations use around 0.04 watts each, 10 times less than standard mini tree bulbs and 100 times less than outdoor bulbs. Even better, if one LED burns out, the rest of the string will stay lit – so no more fumbling to find the broken bulb!

Sending and receiving cards offers lots of opportunities for green savings – have a go at making your own, pick designs made from recycled materials or save on paper, energy and fuel by sending e-cards. After Christmas, there are loads of ways to recycle your old cards. The M&S Christmas Card Recycling Scheme has committed to working with the Woodland Trust to plant a tree for every 1,000 cards recycled in store during January. Over the last five years, the scheme has funded 32,000 trees, with this year’s target set at 6 million cards and another 6,000 trees.

A green Christmas needn’t mean missing out on turkey with all the trimmings. The Soil Association estimates that the ingredients for a typical Christmas dinner can contribute 49,000 food miles – the equivalent of two journeys around the world. However, some simple switches can make a massive difference. Opt for an organic turkey if possible, or go for a veggie option. Focus on in-season sprouts and cabbage to reduce food miles. Look into options for local suppliers – the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association lists lots of markets and farm shops. For other ideas, read The Guardian’s guide to a green Christmas dinner or check out BBC Good Food’s ideas for using up Christmas leftovers.

Finally, even if your green Christmas doesn’t go to plan, there’s always the chance to make an eco New Year’s resolution

This blog was written by Emma Taylor, Healthy Homes Project Support Officer at Peterborough Environment City Trust.



Fuel Poverty and the Private Rented Sector

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 16.11.2015

Time: 10:11

Winter is coming. Time to top up the insulation, switch and save, and keep your fingers crossed for a promotion – because these are the factors that will keep you out of “fuel poverty”.

But what happens if you can’t get a promotion, are stuck with a prepayment meter and the insulation in your home isn’t even your decision?

That is the situation many tenants in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) will find themselves in. Over the past decade home ownership in the UK fell for the first time since 1918, from 69% in 2001 to 64% in 2011. This decline can be attributed to the growth of the PRS which rose by 1.7 million households.

The PRS can provide accommodation very well for people like myself, and overall achieves high levels of satisfaction, with 83% of tenants happy with the service they receive from their landlord. However, by tenure grouping in England the PRS has the highest percentage of households in fuel poverty at 17%, in comparison to 11.3% in Housing Association (HA) properties.

A key influence on this result is the significantly poorer quality of energy efficiency across the PRS with a mean average Standard Assessment Proceduce (SAP) score of 55.4, in comparison to 63.8 in the HA sector.  

In response to this the UK Government are implementing two key policy initiatives:

1. From April 2016, domestic landlords in England and Wales should not be able to unreasonably refuse requests from their tenants for consent to energy efficiency improvements, where financial support is available from national or local schemes.
2. It is also expected that from April 2018, all private rented properties (domestic and non-domestic) should be brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard rating, likely to be set at EPC rating “E” (39-54).

This legislation can be used in partnership with the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) which is still offering free cavity wall and loft insulation to households, and there is hope for a scheme to replace the “Green Deal”, which ended in June 2015.

These changes should be welcomed as more rights for tenants and improvements to our housing stock will reduce carbon emissions and help protect against fuel poverty.

Sam Bosson is the Warm Homes Peterborough Project Officer at Peterborough Environment City Trust.

Further References





Category: Public/Communities

Date: 02.11.2015

Time: 18:35

Conventional wisdom has it that life speeds up as we get older. It certainly seems the older I get that the months and years fly by much faster, and I'm always amazed to discover: “It’s autumn already!”

The feeling of mild anxiety that time is passing me by is never more prominent than during this time of year. Nature is stubbornly marching to its own pace. It races on while I am left wondering what happened to summer? Is it over already?

Well, yes but the year still has so much more to give and now is the time to slow down and enjoy that splash of autumn colour and a time of year that has a much deeper meaning, relating to our own life more than you may think!

Trees provide food for wildlife and are a source of fuel for winter warmth. Trees are a shelter from the elements and a producer of clean air. Just like our feathered friends, we use trees to build our own houses but beyond their practical uses, trees can stimulate imagination and to some carry deep symbolism.

As the final leaves fall and the colour fades the trees seem to disappear and a sense of hibernation soon takes over - but don’t forget the importance and impact they have on all of us in our daily life. Take a moment to sit back and remember the expression: trees gave knowledge to Adam and Eve, enlightenment to Buddha, and gravity to Isaac Newton.

Simon Belham is PECT's Forest for Peterborough Project Officer.


#ForestFor Peterborough

Introducing Nene Coppicing & Crafts

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 26.10.2015

Time: 16:55

Matthew Robinson, PECT’s Woodland Management and Volunteer Manager, talks about the formation of a new community group for our local woodlands.

Nene Coppicing & Crafts is a group of enthusiastic volunteers who have, under Peterborough Environment City Trust’s guidance for the last three years, been acquiring skills in coppicing, woodland management and greenwood crafts.

In the winter of 2014-15, the first plots in Bretton woodlands and Castor Hanglands were coppiced (a traditional method of managing woodlands and encouraging a greater biodiversity).

Once cleared of the dense Silver Birch growth, it was found that many of the old Hazel stools in this abandoned coppice were no longer viable, but it enabled us to practice layering techniques and infill planting with locally-sourced Hazel saplings. The need to fence the coppice plot to prevent deer from browsing on the new growth led us to experiment with various dead hedging techniques until we evolved something that suited the material we had available.

During the following summer, despite the need to control brambles and the vigorous Silver Birch re-growth, we found plenty of time to make charcoal from much of the felled Silver Birch and practice greenwood crafts, using shave horses and a pole lathe made by some of our members.

Shelters for a camp kitchen and a tea area have also been constructed, using tarpaulins and Birch poles. Group members are ever researching and practicing new woodcraft skills, from making cordage (cords or ropes) to hedgerow sauce using woodland materials.

Bretton’s woods and Castor Hanglands are rich in biodiversity and hopefully our coppicing efforts will bring benefits too. We will be keeping an eye on the changes in our plots as they mature.

We actively encourage other volunteers to join our activities and we have had a diverse set of visitors, from staff on corporate team-building days to families keen to get their children to engage with nature, plus we also run volunteer woodland management days on Tuesdays. We are always keen to learn more ourselves and are more than happy to share what we have learned.

For more information about volunteering, call Matthew Robinson on 07736 308475 or email matthew.robinson@pect.org.uk.



Energy Matters Project

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 15.10.2015

Time: 13:33

Alice Lister, the Energy Matters Project Officer, tells us more about her role working with Peterborough communities.

Fuel poverty isn’t something people often talk about, but why would they when very few people know what it is? The basic definition of fuel poverty is when someone cannot afford to adequately heat their home to a comfortable temperature (somewhere between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius).

Luckily the number of people classified as “fuel poor” remains to be a minority, yet having visited over 100 houses so far in Peterborough, energy bills appear to be a concern for the majority – especially with winter on its way.

I have learned a lot so far during my time as an Energy Matters Project Officer, and am pleased to say I’ve been able to help a large number of people. Bills can seem confusing, but now I can confidently lead people through their energy bills and explain what they mean. This makes tariff comparisons far easier, so residents can understand what they are paying for and be aware of any potential savings they could make.

Sometimes switching tariffs is a little daunting, so it’s nice for people to have a helping hand when deciding what to do. I find myself now recommending to family and friends to get themselves online and look out for the best deals!

Although my project is running for six months, it is not the first (nor will it be the last) fuel poverty project that Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) has run. It really is brilliant to see dedication to a good cause, since after all, these projects benefit not just the environment but people too.

I am aiming to have boosted awareness of fuel poverty by the end of my project, as well as the knowledge that we’re here to help. So with some hard work and my fingers crossed, let this winter be a manageable one for everyone in Peterborough!

If you’d like to find out how the Energy Matters project could help you, call Alice on 01733 882540, email alice.lister@pect.org.uk or visit www.pect.org.uk/EnergyMatters.



Celebrating our local heroes

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 25.09.2015

Time: 10:27

Laura Fanthorpe talks about some of our local landmarks, individuals and groups making a real difference to the lives of people within the city.

PECT’s Communities Team Leader, Karen Lawrence, recently attended the Pride in Peterborough Awards where she was recognised in the Community Spirit category.

Anyone who knows about Karen and her work would fully understand why she was nominated! Over the years Karen has launched numerous community projects, which have revolutionised the city’s social and environmental landscape and helped to link people up so that they aren’t isolated or without support. Not only that, but her enthusiasm is unstoppable!

This got me thinking about the other people and places that make our city and surrounding areas a better place to be. The list ended up being pretty extensive, so I thought I’d pull out just a few!

I recently enjoyed a visit to the city’s community space The Green Backyard, and was incredibly impressed to discover a vibrant, positive place that is making a real difference to the lives of communities in Peterborough.

For everyone who goes to The Green Backyard, it’s not just about gardening, wonderful as it is. It is about forming social connections, learning new skills and increasing in confidence – whatever age you are. If you haven’t taken a trip to the site yet then I urge you to go!

Then there are our local food heroes – those heroes who are championing local, seasonal produce to encourage everyone to eat healthily and understand more about where our food comes from. Just to mention a few: there’s Riverford (the organic veg box scheme at Sacrewell), healthy lunches from Bohos in the Cathedral grounds, and of course we can’t forget our city market.

If you head just outside the city you will find a shop that’s a particular favourite of mine. The Collyweston Community Shop is a fantastic model of a not- for-profit organisation, which reinvests any profits into other community activities. The shop is manned entirely by a team of volunteers, and where possible all food is sourced within a tiny radius to support other local producers.

In addition to this, a group making a big difference to the city is RiverCare. Teams of volunteers have been working together to tidy up stretches of the River Nene, in order to improve the local environment for both city residents and wildlife. It’s wonderful to see people dedicate their free time to making a difference.

It’s been hard to limit this list to just a few, but it would be great to hear your nominations for the people, places and groups you feel are making a real difference to our city and surrounding areas!



The Great PECT Bake Off!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 27.08.2015

Time: 10:11

Kari-ann from Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) describes her time in the PECT Bake Off challenge.

I’m not competitive. Ok, maybe I am, just a little. So, when I entered into the Great PECT Bake Off, I was determined to do my best and bake a masterpiece! I got bread week, which, I’ve been reliably informed, is actually an ‘easy’ week to get. It was also a pretty good week for me because I’m a cyclist – I wouldn’t have liked to have tried carrying a dozen crème brulees in my backpack on the way to work!

My only experience of baking, other than the traumatic experience of having someone describe my Victoria Sponge as having been sat on, is some rather ropey attempts at paleo baking earlier this year. I’d been intrigued by some of the paleo bread and cakes a colleague had brought in so decided to experiment – I wasn’t very successful. I soon learnt that measuring is important, and that you can’t really substitute ingredients!

So, for the PECT Bake Off competition - which required the use of local and sustainably-sourced ingredients - I decided to do things ‘properly’. I got the ingredients ready first thing on Saturday morning and was all set to get baking when I realised I had no scales. Scuppered at the first hurdle!  Luckily, mum was at hand to save the day and a quick call later, I had some scales and a measuring jug delivered to my door.

I made two soda breads – one with cheese and caramelised onion, the other with honey and home-grown rosemary – the first time I’d ever had the opportunity to cook with it! They both turned out well, although the cheese loaf looked a little ugly so I entered the honey bread into the competition.

I had made the assumption people would judge partly by looks so entered the more aesthetically pleasing honey loaf! Big mistake! They all preferred the savoury loaf so I lost out to a deserving winner, who baked a tasty parmesan and tomato loaf. But hey, I now know how easy it is to bake a loaf, and have all the ingredients to continue baking, which I fully intend to do. 

It's quite addictive once you try, and realise how quick and easy it can be. Shame I didn’t get through to the final though, my show stopper was going to be out of this world!



Flourishing with Greeniversity Peterborough!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 14.08.2015

Time: 16:01

I’m Peter Reynolds and I’ve been a volunteer administrator with the Greeniversity project at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) for almost two years. Before Greeniversity I was in charge of the Reference and Information Services at Peterborough Central Library until 2002 and then an information officer at RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) in London until late 2012 (I’m a veteran commuter!).

My local environmental credentials are modest: creation of an environmental information collection at the Central Library, participation in the Green Festival for many years, and a long-term member of Friends of the Earth.

I believe that my professional experience has been of benefit to PECT/Greeniversity and I know that volunteering has grounded me in something very worthwhile after the end to my working life.

My main tasks have been looking after the Greeniversity Peterborough class database www.greeniversity.org.uk/peterborough, increasing the number and variety of classes, encouraging new teachers, and promoting brand Greeniversity in the Peterborough area including at local events.

I work now for two and a half days a week and really feel a part of the PECT team. PECT recognises the positive input of its volunteers by awards such as Volunteer of the Year and recommends individuals for other external awards – including the annual Peterborough Green Awards and PCVS Volunteer Awards. You may need to build a new shelf to house all those certificates!

PECT is a great organisation to work as a volunteer for and is welcoming to both young and old. If you’re interested in volunteering some time to PECT, call 01733 568408 or email selina.west@pect.org.uk to discuss any current opportunities.



My first week at PECT

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 10.08.2015

Time: 11:18

By Alice Lister, Energy Matters Project Officer.

The first day of work is a bit like the first day of school. You’re probably running late, you’ll get lost on the way, and when you get there you wish you’d seriously revised your choice of outfit. To make things a little more interesting, my lunch had leaked all over the chocolates I’d packed with me (always a good tactic to make friends – present them with soggy chocolates). Luckily I was taken to a shop where I could buy a nice replacement lunch, which of course soon found its way into my lap.

Despite the wobbly start, I settled in quickly thanks to the brilliant team at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT). I became interested in working for the charity after reading about the projects they run, their ambitious environmental targets and impressive achievements.

A great fact about the Energy Matters project that I am working on is that it supports both the environment and Peterborough residents. This is really what interested me in the position.

My first day was spent being introduced to colleagues and familiarising myself with the office. Everyone was super friendly and helpful, and have continued to be so – I already have heaps of tips for my project!

By the second day I found myself out in the field helping to deliver PECT’s Warm Homes project, which has given me lots of ideas for Energy Matters. I got stuck into a PECT yoga class on my third day and found my ‘inner Zen’ during the busy week, followed by useful project training sessions, which I have learnt so much from.

Now my first week is drawing to a close, and I feel like I have been a PECT employee for months… It’s a great feeling!



Organising the Peterborough Green Festival 2015

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 02.07.2015

Time: 14:08

I had the immense privilege of organising the PECT Green Festival this year. Over the past several months of planning, I have had unique opportunities to meet with some of the city’s many creative and innovative organisations with an eye towards showcasing their work and the people who are really making a difference in Peterborough.

The 2015 festival was bigger than ever and we had a huge amount of interest from new partners and old friends – it really seemed like everyone was up for getting involved in the festival this year, which certainly made my job easier!

The planning process for this type of event can be hectic, but I can honestly say that I have enjoyed some of the unexpected turns it has taken – some of which helped us to formulate new relationships and come up with unique ways of engaging with people who might not necessarily understand what it mean to be ‘green,’ because part of the event’s mission was creating awareness of the environmental issues facing our city.

I tried hard to come up with a single favourite or even a few favourites from the launch day but I really struggled to narrow it down! I loved the unique and beautiful Life Boat (created by the talented folks from the Institute of Crazy Dancing – their presence on the day was thanks to IKEA sponsorship) where people had a chance to climb in and forget about their troubles for a short spell, whilst relaxing to the gentle sway of the hammocks with St Johns Church in the background.

The Urban Street Art Space that we had running down King Street (and Cowgate) was the first time we’ve ever done something of its kind, and I loved seeing what was created there. Having fun with our sustainable transport theme, we had a quarter-pipe brought in and some graffiti boards were set up to bring in a lot of young people to involve them with the festival for the first time. It was a big success, with beatbox music and skateboard and BMX trials throughout the day. 

Of course, our multiple arts element really blew me away – from our artists’ projects to our folk and country bands, and our talented local dancers. The festival had a really great atmosphere and the variety of people, activities, and new spaces used really made it feel like a countryside festival in the middle of the city centre – our first ever Real Ale Tent helped with that too!

I can’t wait to see what new excitement next year’s festival brings.



Empty roofs offer great potential

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 30.06.2015

Time: 10:14

Claire Higgins, Chief Executive of Cross Keys Homes, explains how empty roofs in Peterborough enable the use of free solar panels, providing free electricity.

Taking advantage of empty, unused roof space, available funding and looking at things in a slightly different way has meant Cross Keys Homes has been able to provide tenants in Peterborough with plentiful free electricity thanks to our solar panel initiative – and that’s not the only benefit.

With rising fuel prices and more people getting worried about how their energy is produced, this scheme offers a great solution… and all at no cost to us or our tenants.

It was estimated in 2014, 2.5 million households in England were in fuel poverty and that was broadly unchanged from the previous year (Fuel Poverty Annual Report 2015). This scheme aims to change this.

By enabling 4,700 households in Peterborough – we expect over 6,000 by the time the solar panel scheme is finished – we are also generating £16.5million of capital investment and over 50 local jobs.

CO2 emissions are causing concern for many and with this scheme we have helped to extract 13Mw of energy – just over 9,400 tonnes of CO2 each year from the running costs of our housing stock. It has been said that this is more of a saving than some large solar farms in the country!

But that’s not all we’re doing. We’ve trained our front-line staff in how to identify and support tenants who have been struggling with funding high fuel costs and recently delivered a campaign to tackle fuel poverty, helping many residents switch suppliers and save money. We’ve also ensured all Cross Keys Homes’ departments are working together to create a joined-up approach in supporting our tenants through these changes.

To say I’m really proud of our team’s hard work with this initiative would be an understatement. We knew it was going to be an important project when we started, but the difference it has made has been remarkable and I think the figures speak for themselves.

This approach has helped to provide the right solution for us, our tenants and the city of Peterborough: we want our residents to have the best possible quality of life and for this we need a city which has a thriving local economy, strong communities and a sustainable way of life, which as a locally focused social enterprise is what Cross Keys Homes is always aspiring to do.



Fake Moustaches and Secret Messages

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 24.06.2015

Time: 09:34

Theatre practitioner and director from Lamphouse Theatre, Tom Fox, explains how detectives took over Peterborough during the Green Festival in May 2015.

If you’re curious about the title of this blog you might not know that, for the Green Festival 2015, some world-renowned Detectives arrived in the city to solve the greatest puzzle of today. They wandered around Peterborough city centre and slightly beyond to discover how to stop the underground crime syndicate from taking over the world. They met characters, found clues and followed their noses!

Detective [Insert Name] was a walking performance that put the audience in the centre of the action, playing the detectives. The themes of the narrative, although I won’t give too much away, were climate change, the environment and art heists. It is definitely something you need to experience to understand fully.

My role on the days of the show was to introduce the concept to audiences in an ‘initiation’ style scene - where detectives collected their gadgets, gave themselves a fake name and, most importantly, got handed their trusty fake moustache, to be used once and to be used wisely.

For us, the performers, it was quite a complex run of shows. Up to five shows could run every day starting every half an hour. With a duration of an hour and a half, we could have three groups within the show at one time. We had to find ways to communicate with each other without getting caught. Our own secret mission! I would receive texts from other performers such as ‘The eagles have left the nest…’ and ‘The cats are on the roof’.

The aim of the show was to get audiences to work together as a team and for them to have fun together. It was fascinating seeing families work with other families, adults working with young people, culturally diverse groups mixing and working together. We have had many good comments back such as:

‘It took us to a part of Peterborough we hadn't been to before in the 13yrs I've lived here. It made us look at the world around us and notice more detail. Interactive theatre is great and I hope you keep it up in the future.’

Hopefully the mission was achieved and that the audience looked around more, they appreciated their surroundings and walking in the open air. As the Chief Detective says at the end of the play:

‘Stand for what you believe in and work together to make a decent life for the next generations. We don’t need to be the destroyers, but the nurturers of a living world. Good luck in all you do… you are now released back to your normal lives. Be resourceful! Be active! Be brilliant!’



The Three Peaks Challenge

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 23.06.2015

Time: 13:56

Sophie Antonelli, Co-Founder of Peterborough’s community garden project The Green Backyard (GBY), explains why she and a team of fundraisers will be attempting the Three Peaks Challenge this June.

On June 27th I, along with five other walkers and two volunteer drivers, will be attempting the national Three Peaks Challenge. We’ll be doing our best to climb the three highest peaks in the UK – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – within a 24 hour window, and all in aid of The Green Backyard (GBY), the community garden I co-founded and have volunteered with for almost seven years now.

Whilst I am lucky to have a fairly active lifestyle, the only time I go running is when I’m late for a train. This, along with the fact that Peterborough’s fenland landscape is not exactly known for its hills, means that this is going to be a massive challenge! But despite the almost magnetic way that I am repelled away from exercise and attracted to the cheese counter, this year I wanted to attempt a physical challenge that would really test me.

Since we started fundraising in earnest for The Green Backyard last year, all of us here have been overwhelmed by the support and incredibly generous donations from people not just from Peterborough, but all over the UK, who have come together to say that they want to keep a community managed green space in the heart of Peterborough. To date we have raised over £18,000, and that’s without even knowing how much we will eventually have to raise to buy the site.

It’s likely that we have a lot more fundraising ahead, so before I ask anyone else to undertake sponsored walks, fun runs or yard sales I knew I had to put my money where my mouth is and get my walking boots on.

As the date approaches I find myself wondering whose stupid idea this was (it was mine for the record), but the thought of all the people that the GBY has helped over the years will keep me going. We don’t shout about them too much, but in my mind they’re always there with me; from the lady so agoraphobic she could barely leave the house and is now out of therapy and a remarkably creative and active figure, to the guy signed off work with stress, now making his living as a very busy and happy gardener!

Community-led spaces like the GBY transform people’s lives in so many, often intangible, ways. We try things, we welcome people, and we celebrate together. We don’t always get things right, and that’s how we learn what works. We are committed to creating a community that cares for and supports each other, differences and all. A Peterborough without The Green Backyard would be a colder, greyer, more dispassionate place, and that’s not the kind of place I want to live.

So that’s why the six of us will be dragging our weary Fen legs over hill and down dale this weekend, and why our drivers have signed up for a 1,000 mile round trip. You can sponsor us if you like, or start thinking about a challenge of your own. We’ll be live blogging the whole excruciating experience, so please follow and share it with your own followers. This is just part of a much longer journey for us, so I hope you’ll come along for the ride.




Electric Pedals: On being part of the Green Festival 2015

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 09.06.2015

Time: 14:56

Electric Pedals was excited to be part of the PECT Green Festival in Peterborough again this year and enjoyed seeing some familiar and new faces when bringing back pedal power for a music stage on the Saturday and a cinema on the Sunday!

Electric Pedals uses the energy from people cycling to power cinemas, sound-systems, outdoor classrooms in schools and much more. Pedal power can be used for home appliances or entertainment purposes – we can power almost anything, all in a clean and green way!

The way it works is very simple. As we move, whether it is cycling, walking or dancing, the chemical energy that is stored in us humans is transferred into kinetic energy. Electric Pedals was born out of the realisation that the kinetic energy produced by people cycling can be transferred into electrical energy to power things! What could be more fun and energy efficient than cycling to charge your own phone or power your own cinema?

The bike is an incredible invention: as a method of transport it helps us to save the environment whilst giving us the opportunity to exercise and improve our own health. When we realised we could also use the bicycle to transfer kinetic energy from movement into electrical energy through a simple set-up, our understanding of pedal power truly began.

We accommodate for all ages and all you have to do is pedal to generate the power. The stationary bikes are fixed to motors which spin as the back wheel whirls round. This spinning motion generates electricity in the motor and is transferred through cables to whatever we want to power. For larger set-ups, we have built our own Power Stations which transfer the low voltage DC electricity (this is suitable for phone-charging and other appliances that don’t require much power) into AC electricity which is what runs through all our homes, schools, and workplaces. This is then how we can power things like projectors and sound systems for cinemas and music festivals. It’s really very easy!

We don’t only use pedal power for cinemas and music stages. We also help to spread energy awareness through Educational Workshops and Power Challenges so please check out our website for more bike-powered fun (www.electricpedals.com). You can also see what we’re up to through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under the name Electric Pedals.

Power to the pedal!



My first Green Festival!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 18.05.2015

Time: 17:02

Excitement is building for the Green Festival, just a few days away now. I am particularly excited as it will be my first Green Festival – a community event that PECT has been running annually in the city for over 20 years. 

This year the theme of the festival is sustainable transport. It’s a theme close to my heart because I travel in by train every day and thoroughly enjoy my commute to work. On just one journey a few weeks ago I spotted 15 species of bird on the route from Ely to Peterborough, including a barn owl and a hooper swan.

On other days it’s a chance to read the news, check emails or chat to friends and colleagues. Every day it involves a brisk walk to the station and a less brisk walk home which gives me some fresh air and exercise, helping me to wake up and to wind down. The contrast from the stress of driving in is astounding and, with the exception of the benefit of being able to sing loudly in the car, travelling by train wins every time!

For me, the Green Festival is an excellent example of what PECT is all about and part of what I love so much about our independent and innovative charity. Working with partners in and around the city to co-ordinate an event that is informative, thought-provoking and enjoyable, with something for everybody. All themed around creating a cleaner, greener and healthier Peterborough in a way that is engaging and inspiring.

The launch day is packed full of everything from music and art to a children’s play bus and a photo booth. There will be activities on sustainable transport, woodland crafts and creating spaces for wildlife as well as plenty of opportunities to chill out and try some seasonal food and drink or even a spot of meditation on the Life Boat!

The range of fringe events is really impressive too. I’m delighted that the events include a talk at the Cathedral on ‘The Biological Evidence for Climate Change’ from Professor Sir Ghillean Prance. There are also lots of chances for walking and wildlife spotting and two film options over the course of the week as well.  

We’re really grateful for the support this year from Travelchoice, the Arts Council, Peterborough City Council, IKEA, Stagecoach and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

So, I look forward to seeing lots of familiar and new faces in the city on Saturday for an action-packed day.... and if it all gets too much, you might find me in the beer tent!

Carly Leonard is PECT's Chief Executive Officer, and she has written on the subject of the Peterborough Green Festival. The Festival Launch Day is on Saturday 23 May in Cathedral Square and fringe events run until Sunday 31 May.



Only a few more sleeps...

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 14.05.2015

Time: 16:07

There’s a real buzz in the office this week because we’ve just a few more sleeps until the Green Festival 2015!

I’m particularly excited about this one! I’ve been at PECT for six of the previous twenty-odd festivals that we’ve put on, but this is a festival of firsts. This is the first time we’ve had Arts Council funding, amazing huh? This is the first time we’re going to have a dedicated street art area and the first time we’re going to have a bar, plus for me it’s the first time I’ve been managing the festival - buzzing!

It’s really exciting for my team because it gives everyone the chance to celebrate the work they do week-in-week-out. We are currently managing 12 projects in my team, and whilst we all work together as much as we can each project officer has the responsibility for their own project and often they are working on their own. So to have the opportunity to join forces with the rest of the PECT team, all our other stakeholders, and the big green community of Peterborough means we’re all on a bit of a high.

You can (and probably have) looked at other areas of the website to find out more about my team’s projects and details for the festival, so I want to tell you more about the arts element of the festival. We’ve commissioned three local artists from different disciplines who are being ably looked after by our artistic producer, Tony Henderson.

The first of our artists is Keely Mills, local poet, writer and performer. Keely is using poetry as her medium, and dispelling the city’s reputation for being difficult to get around using public transport. She has been travelling around on our buses, taking in the landscape, talking to other travellers and getting her experiences down in rhyme. On the launch day you will be able to hear poetry live on the Stagecoach bus in St Johns Square and on the PA systems of various places around the city.

The second of our artists is Tom Fox, local performance artist, who is trying out something very new and innovative for Peterborough. Detective (Insert Name) is an audience participation piece which you can take part in; you become the detective and help solve the crime! This pre-bookable event will allow you to discover a crime of huge magnitude, then move around the city centre to discover the clues and become a real life detective solving the art heist of the century. I warn you places for this event are limited so book your place now!

Our third artist Stuart Payne, one of Peterborough’s premier visual artists, is building a pledge tree out of recycled and reused items. Stuart has been working hard to design and build this sculptural piece which will have an interactive pledge system on the festival launch day.

To see all this and take part in the numerous free green activities for all the family, at this year’s Green Festival, come along to Cathedral Square, Peterborough, on the 23rd May and for more details go to www.pect.org.uk/GreenFestival.

Karen is PECT’s Communities Team Leader. She has written about this year’s Peterborough Green Festival, which will be held on 23-31 May 2015, with a free launch day of Saturday 23rd May, in Cathedral Square. 



Eco-friendly BMW i3 and i8 vehicles to be on display at Peterborough Green Festival

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 14.05.2015

Time: 09:47

David Woodhouse, iBrand Manager, explains how Sycamore (Peterborough) Ltd is excited to attend this year’s Peterborough Green Festival in order to showcase the eco-friendly BMW i3 and i8 cars in support of the Festival's sustainable transport theme. Sycamore is the region’s only ‘i’ agent, and will have a presence in Cathedral Square on the Peterborough Green Festival Launch Day of Saturday 23 May.

What’s so exciting about these cars is that they are the first products to go on sale from BMW’s i sub-brand. The i3 features an innovative Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) structure which optimises space whilst keeping weight to an absolute minimum.

The CFRP is manufactured in a production facility powered by Hydro Electricity. Producing CFRP is very costly in terms of energy used, but BMW are able to manufacture this extremely durable and incredibly strong material utilising totally renewable energy.

The cars themselves are manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility. Again BMW are concerned with their Carbon Footprint and this facility is powered by four massive wind turbines. With this sort of thinking it comes as no surprise that BMW Group is the Dow Jones Sustainability Index Leader for the 8th consecutive year.

Customers can even switch their household energy suppliers to Green Energy, so that when they use their cars day-to-day they are minimising the CO2 produced at point of use.

Interested prospective customers can even test drive the i3 on the day of the Green Festival to see just how good these cars are to drive. In addition to the cars, children at the Festival will be able to complete a quiz sheet on the i3 and their older siblings can take a look at the electric racing car built by a local school under the Greenpower initiative.

For more information visit www.sycamorebmw.co.uk or www.greenpower.co.uk.



Musical Cycling?

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 13.05.2015

Time: 15:51

I want to start with a word of warning: cycling whilst listening to music is extremely dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. However, I have to credit listening to music with getting me back into cycling again.

After years of commuting to work on my bike, I had lost interest and motivation. It was hardest in the winter months, with the cold, the rain and worst of all the wind. I got to the stage of being a fair weather cyclist, which made me angry – I wanted to be better than that!

So I decided to ignore my own advice. This was mainly because my cycle route to work was a completely off-road experience, and I started listening to music with the sound turned down low enough so that I could still hear what was going on around me – the bells of other cyclists for example – but loud enough to take my mind off the horribly cold wind!

A short while after I discovered Podcasts, I know they’ve been around for a while but since listening to them on my commute to work they’ve really changed my cycling experience. During those rainy cold days I now can’t wait to get on my bike so I can catch up with my favourites – Josh Widdicombe on xfm, Frank Skinner on Absolute and Kermode and Mayo’s Wittertainment. 

So ending where I started, although I’m not suggesting that people plug in their headphones whilst cycling, for me it has helped massively with my motivation and I don’t have to call myself a fair weather cyclist anymore!

Janine is PECT’s Resources Manager, and she has written on the topic of cycling to tie in with this year’s Peterborough Green Festival, which will be held on 23-31 May 2015.



A new currency for Peterborough

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 05.05.2015

Time: 09:52

I first heard of local currencies around five years ago. At that time it seemed like far too much hard work, because I was in the process of going to university. A lot of the people I spoke to about it all those years ago were understandably wary – isn’t it illegal to print your own money? It turns out the answer to that question isn’t as cut and dried as you might think.

Fast forward to the middle of last year, and I had finished university. I had been self-employed ever since, working on various projects in and around Peterborough, but that work was drying up and I was facing a return to the job centre.

The Governor of the Bank of England had recently released his report on how money is created in the UK, and this re-engaged my interest in the idea of local currencies and their potential for helping to support and develop local economies. I had obviously heard of BitCoin, and its derivatives, but it seemed counterintuitive to limit an internet-based currency to a local area. In any case, BitCoin derives its value from its scarcity, like gold, and requires ‘mining’ (using the processing power of account holders’ computers to perform the calculations necessary to maintain the public ledger of transactions) to make more, which would naturally limit the scope and uptake of any emergent digital crypto-currency.

A little bit of research uncovered several local currencies that were already up and running in the UK, notably in Brixton and Bristol, who had very kindly made their work open to others interested in the idea. They had even spoken to the Bank of England already and worked out the legal framework under which it works. (The paper pounds have an expiry date, and so they are legally counted as vouchers rather than legal tender.) Armed with these examples of successful models, I was able to start ringing round some friends to see if anyone in Peterborough thought it would be a good idea that could work here too.

When I told them I was thinking of printing money, quite a few were interested in talking to me – mostly to try and dissuade me from forging a bunch of tenners, but it got people talking!

We got to go and speak to the Bristol Pound (£B) team in October of last year at their Guild of Independent Currencies conference in Bristol. Their model is a complementary sterling backed currency, exchangeable at a 1:1 rate with the national currency. Every £B in existence has a corresponding pound in sterling which is held at their local credit union, and anyone who engages with the scheme can get their money back at any time, which means there is no risk to the individual or business that decides to trade in the local currency.

As only those businesses that sign up to the initiative will accept the paper pounds, and those businesses are based locally and owned and run by local people, this will help people think about where they spend their money and what happens to it after they hand it over the counter. Only 20p from every pound you spend in high-street stores stays within the local economy, while more like 60p sticks around if you spend it in your local shop. It also benefits from the ‘local multiplier’ effect, as local businesses are more likely to source stock, staff and services from the local community, being spent four times on average before it heads out to the national economy.

By encouraging local people to use local businesses, we will help to maintain wealth within the local economy so that local people benefit. We will also be helping to improve our city’s carbon footprint, because local businesses have shorter supply chains than the big stores.

As yet we don’t know what our currency will look like. We want the design to be produced by someone from Peterborough - so we will be running a competition in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled for details!

We already have over £500 in pledges to buy P£s when they become available, and we are hoping to put together a short trial at some point this year. If you’d like more information, or to get involved, please visit our website at www.peterboroughpound.org or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PeterboroughPound.

Alex Airey is a volunteer on PECT’s communities team, and he has also been project managing the Peterborough Pound project for the last eight months.



Ride for your Lives event at Ferry Meadows

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 01.05.2015

Time: 13:38

Leanne Tyers, from the East Anglian Air Ambulance, writes about the upcoming ‘Ride for your Lives’ cycle ride.

East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) is a 365-day-a-year lifesaving service working across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. We fly our two helicopters containing critical care paramedics and doctors, day and night, to the scenes of accidents and serious medical incidents.

Every year we receive many calls about cyclists who have been involved in an accident. One of the most common injuries for a cyclist is a head injury. It is vital to be wearing a helmet when riding your bike to minimise any damage in the event of an accident.

Although head injuries are common, a patient can suffer any type of trauma injury from the impact of a crash. By looking after yourself, and your bike when riding, you can minimise the chances of being involved in a serious accident that requires the service of EAAA.

If you are a cyclist and would like to show your support to your local air ambulance charity, there are many ways that you can do this. We hold many fundraising events throughout the year, with one of our signature events being our annual Ride for your Lives cycle ride. Ride for your Lives is in its fourth year and we have decided to bring it to Ferry Meadows, Peterborough, on Sunday 28 June 2015.

The route is a family-friendly 15km, in honour of EAAA’s 15th anniversary, and is suitable for all ages and abilities. Cyclists can ride any time between 9am and 3pm on the day but we advise that you register for the event in advance.

Registration can be completed online at: www.eaaa.org.uk/events/ride-for-your-lives/ with a payment of £10 for an individual rider or £20 for a family or corporate team via debit/credit card or PayPal. However, if you would like to pay by cash/cheque please call 01733 367208 or email leanne.tyers@eaaa.org.uk.

There will be a raffle on the day to win a children’s ‘Frog 48’ bike, kindly donated by the new Rutland Cycling store at Ferry Meadows, with tickets being sold at £1 each.

We look forward to seeing local cyclists at our event!



Walking, jogging, running and finally getting to ride a bike

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 24.04.2015

Time: 10:01

I'm not describing the stages of a child here, I'm describing the stages of a parent with a child on a bike.

When they are little you get to walk along beside them while they ride a trike or push along on a walking bike, then they get a bigger bike and they get a bit faster and you find yourself almost jogging to keep up. Then there is that slightly frustrating stage when they aren't quite fast enough for you to be on your own bike but you find yourself almost running to keep up with them.

I now have the absolute joy that my own poor neglected bike can finally come out again as my son has managed to get up enough speed for us to cycle together.

We are extremely lucky to live in a place where school, shops and friends are all within easy walking or cycling distance and for the most part on safe footpaths and cycle paths. I'm reliably informed by my 8 year old that walking is the most boring thing on the planet ever ever ever....but suggest going on his scooter or even better getting out the bikes and all thoughts of the car and it's comfy seats rapidly disappear. 

His discovery that he could get a badge first at Beavers and now in Cubs for bike riding has increased his enthusiasm even more, so he's practising his basic bike maintenance and making a poster about road safety on a bike so that he can add a cyclist badge to the collection on his uniform sleeve. 

We don't go on any epic bike rides, but our bikes make trips around town more interesting and now it's my car that feels neglected - but I think that's the better and cheaper option.

Jill is PECT’s Environmental Education Co-ordinator, and she has written on the topic of cycling to tie in with this year’s Peterborough Green Festival, which will be held on 23-31 May 2015.



Seeing what Peterborough has to offer

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 22.04.2015

Time: 17:06

Having a real interest in sustainability, I’ve always found looking for events and groups an up-hill challenge in previous places I’ve lived (which resulted in me starting my own). However, in moving to Peterborough late last year, I feel I have arrived home. There is so much going on in the aspiring UK’s Environment Capital, I am now struggling to find the time to do it all!

First on the agenda after the move was to get an allotment, which was secured within the month and is now under development. The other plot holders are all really nice and, now the weather is warming up, are beginning to become more like friends than simply acquaintances, all offering their help and advice on the season ahead.

Since the move, I have also become more involved personally in what the city has to offer. Having been to both the Green Backyard and the Olive Branch Community Garden I am taken aback by the community spirit to keep and care for its green spaces. I am slowly becoming a regular with the Handmade in Peterborough group, continuing my love of all things craft and making new friends along the way.

My love of crafts has also landed me a role as a teacher for Greeniversity, which is a great initiative I was already looking into before I had started working with PECT. Next on my agenda is the Willow Weaving courses, which I have looked at a number of times, but feel I should get on a level playing field with my time before taking on anything new.

The start of 2015 brought with it many changes, one of which was starting as an intern for PECT, pulling together a community project proposal. This was a new challenge for me, never having worked in the environmental or fundraising sector before; but being able to use my sustainable outlook and let it grow has been a new experience I am thoroughly enjoying. I have met with a number of local people and have engaged in many interesting conversations about all aspects of sustainability; just bringing the topic to their attention and starting conversations flowing has got them thinking about what they could do differently.

Shortly after I started with PECT, I was asked if I would be willing to take on another role, helping out with the Green Festival. This has again been a great opportunity, helping to promote such a brilliant event and getting to see a wider scope of what a brilliant organisation is doing to make the world a greener place.

So now the weather is warming up, why not get out there and see what your local area has to offer; whether it is the Green Festival events happening near you, a Greeniversity class, or just mingling with your local community to see what you can do to contribute to a greener, cleaner, healthier Peterborough.

Danette is PECT’s Fundraising Intern, and she has written on the topic of green community events to tie in with this year’s Peterborough Green Festival, which will be held on 23-31 May 2015.



My life-affirming cycling experience (or the day I got knocked off my bike!)

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 17.04.2015

Time: 11:35

Rather a dramatic headline maybe, but I can honestly say that the day I was hit by a car left me feeling slightly euphoric. It also changed the way I approached cycling.

I don’t like driving and haven’t got a car so my bike is my lifeline for getting around the city. I’m a confident cyclist and, admittedly, had been rather lax with my safety in the past. I never used to wear a helmet, the lights on my bike were pitifully weak, and I let my break pads wear down to a slither! 

Anyway, it was midday on New Year’s Day and I was cycling home from yoga. I passed a junction and moments later was unceremoniously knocked off my bike by a car pulling out who had simply not seen me. It all happened in bit of a haze – I couldn’t believe that I’d been hit. I also couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been hurt. My bike basket was a write-off but miraculously, I came out of it with just a few bruises to my ankle. When the car stopped and the driver got out and I stood up, I don’t know who was more in shock, him or me.

Despite this little hiccup, cycling is incredibly important to me. I love the freedom of being outdoors on my bike, knowing that I am getting some daily exercise and beating the traffic jams. It’s very satisfying to scoot along the cycle route next to Bourges Boulevard and pass the sometimes motionless traffic. Now the weather has become warmer, it’s nice just to go out on the bike and get some fresh air.

The upshot of it all is I am now wearing my helmet and have ramped up the lights when I cycle at night, and I would recommend that all other cyclists take a look at their safety to see what they too can improve. So, if you see someone on a bike, carrying a yoga mat and lit up like a Christmas tree, then give them a wide berth as you overtake. You might even want to smile and wave at them – you never know, they may just smile back! 

Kari-Ann is PECT’s Fundraising Manager, and she has written on the topic of cycling to tie in with this year’s Peterborough Green Festival, which will be held on 23-31 May 2015 and is based upon the theme of sustainable transport.



Going Wild Food Foraging with Greeniversity and The Green Backyard!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 16.04.2015

Time: 15:19

Ruth Campbell from Idea1, the organisation that unites individuals, creative entrepreneurs and businesses to provide an opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, talks about her recent experience taking part in a Wild Food Foraging session.

On Sunday 12th April, I visited the lovely Green Backyard (GBY) and took part in their Wild Food Forage course, in partnership with Greeniversity. Greeniversity is running a series of skill sharing courses at The Green Backyard and you can find out more at www.greeniversity.org.uk.

What a lovely environment in which to hold a workshop! The Green Backyard is welcoming; full of energy and the sun was finally out! The description of the workshop was ‘Learn how to identify wild food that is available in springtime with David Radley. Get advice on foraging within the law. Try foraged foods that you probably haven’t eaten before. Bring something towards a shared lunch and we’ll add some foraged items.

The day started off with a brief introduction over tea and some ‘how to’ foraging books. David Radley, who is based at Nene Park Trust and runs regular foraging walks there too, took us around The Green Backyard and identified various different, wild leaves, weeds and plants that we could eat, also explaining which ones to avoid! He even encouraged us to eat his findings, including stinging nettles! I was reluctant at first, I didn’t want my tongue to swell up from a sting but David showed us how to pick and fold the nettle properly without getting stung. Surprisingly it actually tasted quite nice!

Once we had walked around The Green Backyard, where we really did discover food in every crevice of the land, we were given a basket, handmade by GBY out of willow, and were encouraged to go and pick some wild food for our lunch. Everyone scampered off to forage, this really put our new found knowledge to the test. I chose a mixture of lambs lettuce, marigolds, rapeseed flowers, fennel flowers and even dock leaves.

Once collected it was a lovely surprise to hear that we would be eating some homemade soup (handmade by one of GBY’s volunteers) made out of some of the foraged food from the previous day's workshop. Everyone brought food to share to accompany his or hers foraged finds, (lots of cake) sharing food and generating interesting conversation over lunch. I think we all felt a sense of accomplishment after foraging for our own lunch! David cooked up some of the foraged items and gave us some nettle tea to try.

After our lunch we then walked around the city, the Embankment and the Cathedral grounds to show how we can apply what we have learnt to find our own food within the city centre. I’m sure everyone that attended the class now has their eyes peeled for plants David recommended, and I know I definitely do.

It truly was a fantastic and informative day - a whole new skill learnt - one that I can share with friends. The Green Backyard and its volunteers were hugely welcoming and David jam-packed the session full of useful information. I would recommend this class to my friends and family any day. Who knew there was so much wild food you could find in your own backyard and around the city!

You can watch an interview about the foraging class here. Please don't eat anything grown wild without expert identification first. 



There’s nothing to do in Peterborough?

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 18.03.2015

Time: 16:39

Jennie Orrell, Greeniversity's Development Lead, looks at what our fine city has to offer.

This week is Visit England’s English Tourism Week, which got me thinking – what attractions and things to do are there on our doorstep in Peterborough that are worth celebrating?

There are the obvious ones of course, like our beautiful Cathedral, which during certain times of the year runs tours up the tallest tower for breath taking views of the city centre. For those pressed for time, small but breathtaking Longthorpe Tower is home to a unique set of wall paintings and information about medieval life.

Then there’s the museum with its diverse range of events and activities for all ages; a particular favourite during school holidays. The museum often works with Metal, who put on even more events at Chauffeur’s Cottage, a piece of Peterborough heritage that the enthusiastic community arts team are currently looking after.

Then there’s the John Clare Theatre, which shows alternative films every week and of course The Key Theatre, hosting a range of performances as part of Vivacity’s culture programme in the city. Out of the city centre there’s the Cresset Theatre, offering variety for those living on the outskirts.

But what about things to do outside? Bordering the Fens, Peterborough is surrounded by a unique landscape that has been characterised by agriculture. Surrounding the city there are therefore several farms that are open to the public. Of course there’s Sacrewell, which is in the middle of rebranding for a fresh new look to show off all of the things on offer there. Open your eyes wider and you can get involved with others that are supplying our city with fantastic local produce: groups can book an educational visit at Moor Farm and keep an eye out for family open days at Willowbrook.

On the edge of the city there is Flag Fen, a very important archaeological site that boasts Bronze Age artefacts, re-enactments and storytelling sessions. In Helpston you can visit the home of former local poet, John Clare, where you can see a stunning array of flowers in his garden. Holme Fen Post marks the lowest point in Great Britain and serves as a reminder of the dramatic change in the landscape following the draining of the Fens. I’d highly recommend this area for a Sunday afternoon walk and you can learn more about the future of it via the Great Fen Project.

As fantastic as these places and the people that run them are, not everyone is able to easily make the trip out to visit them. That’s why green space within the city is extremely important, in accessible locations for everyone from all walks of life to enjoy. The most talked about example recently is The Green Backyard, which has been raising money to buy the land that it is situated on. The Green Backyard is open four days a week for anyone to come along, and hosts a food shop as well as regular events throughout the year, all run entirely by volunteers. There are other community gardens too; I recently visited the Olive Branch Community Garden in Dogsthorpe and was amazed by this little gem tucked away behind some Cross Keys housing.

Moving on in the green space list, let’s not forget some of the city’s parks. Itter and Central Park have both been awarded Green Flag awards by the Keep Britain Tidy Scheme. Other Green Flag awards in Peterborough have been given to Victoria Gardens in Millfield, which even has its own performance area, and Manor Farm Park (Eye Community Gardens), a three-acre site that has a skate park, play area, orchard, meadow, picnic zone and pond.

Ponds can be found all over Peterborough so it isn’t a surprise that two national wildlife charities, Froglife and Buglife, are based here. Froglife in particular has been working closely on one of the many nature reserves in the city at Hampton. This site is unique as it is home to Europe’s largest population of Great Crested Newts! Another nature reserve of significant importance is Barnack Hills and Holes, which helps to conserve some very rare wildflowers.

A list of green space in Peterborough would not be complete without mentioning Ferry Meadows, run by Nene Park Trust. Many of our Greeniversity classes are held here and you can see why – the country park is home to a variety of species in its expanse of lakes, meadows, riversides and woodlands.

Ferry Meadows isn’t the only area to find interesting woodlands in Peterborough however. Another of our projects, Woodland Heritage in Action, with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been striving to reopen Bretton’s Ancient Woods to the public. Regular sessions are run in the woods, teaching skills that connect people to nature. All of these sites make me realise how lucky we are to be one of the places in the UK with one of the highest ratios of green space per person.

This list is extensive but by no means has it all. There’s nothing to do in Peterborough you say? Think again…



Keeping Peterborough clean

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 16.03.2015

Time: 12:43

People in Peterborough are being encouraged to join in the national Community Clear Up Day on the first day of spring – Saturday 21 March. Join together with friends, neighbours and local businesses to tackle your favourite parts of Peterborough, whether it’s a corner of your local park or the street you live on.

Why not get involved with Thorpe Gate Rivercare’s organised Litter Pick on Saturday 21 March? Simply meet at 10.30am on the riverside steps at the back of Asda to spend a morning clearing the riverside paths.

In addition to this, after the clear-up you can join the group’s friendly lunch at the Boathouse pub from 12.30pm to get to know your fellow volunteers.

Discover more information about other clean-up events held throughout the year on the Keep Britain Tidy website at www.thebigtidyup.org. Share your clean-up efforts on social media with the hashtag #ClearUpDay.



What planting 84,759 trees means for Peterborough

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 13.03.2015

Time: 16:51

With the fantastic news that PECT’s Forest for Peterborough project has now planted a total of 84,759 trees in the last five years, what does this mean for our city and its inhabitants?

Peterborough is one of the least wooded areas in the UK with only 3.6% woodland cover, compared to a UK average of 12%. In an area where tree coverage is below the national average, the Forest for Peterborough project aims to create a network of wooded areas to improve our green spaces.

Trees provide a multitude of benefits. As well improving the appearance of an area, they also remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, slow heavy rain and so reduce the risk of flooding, and provide an ideal habitat for a rich mix of flora and fauna.

In addition to this, trees greatly benefit the people living around them by having a positive impact on health and well-being.

The Forest for Peterborough project was launched in 2010, and it aims to plant over 180,000 trees by 2030, which is one tree for every person living in Peterborough.

We’ve got a long way to go, and we need your support to achieve our aims, but just think how wonderful the end result will be: 180,000 trees later.



Yaxley Reed Bed Habitat Project - Family Volunteer Day

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 05.03.2015

Time: 17:21

Here at PECT we love to share fantastic eco initiatives and events! That's why we thought we'd let you know about Produce World's Family Volunteer Day, being held on Saturday 14 March.

This community project runs at the Produce World site in Yaxley to increase the value of the area for biodiversity and for people. There is a sustainable water recycling system, using channels and reed beds to clean the water that is used to wash the vegetables, and it is this reed bed area that is being enhanced.

Yaxley reed bed is getting an exciting new look and your help is needed to bring it to life! During this event, volunteers will join together to plant a strip of woodland, build a big bug hotel, and create a footpath and small fence to make year-round access easier.

Everyone is welcome and there will be activities for both adults and children. Refreshments will be provided. If you need more information please contact 4Life@ProduceWorld.co.uk.

The event will be held at:

Produce World Yaxley
Great Drove



Peterborough Environment City Trust in the news!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 13.02.2015

Time: 10:39

As an innovative environmental charity in Peterborough, PECT is always keen to spread the word far and wide about our projects.

We already work with a large range of community groups, organisations, businesses and schools across the city – and our achievements have far-reaching effects.

For example, did you know in 2014 alone we engaged with over 1,700 businesses, 30,194 trees were planted as part of our community volunteering scheme Forest for Peterborough, and 16,600 pupils were involved in our environmental projects.

Every little bit of support helps, and we are grateful for the local and regional media backing our initiatives and helping to tell our stories in order to bring them to life. 

The Moment Magazine recently covered a three page article on PECT and some of our community projects, including Woodland Heritage in Action, Greeniversity and Forest for Peterborough. Read on to discover more about our work.

Thank you for your support. Please do continue to spread the word about PECT and share our stories on social media @SustainableCity.



If you go down to the woods today...

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 28.01.2015

Time: 16:45

You might just discover your new favourite hobby at the Forest for Peterborough Woodland Crafts sessions, explains Laura Fanthorpe.

I recently joined the regular Forest for Peterborough Woodland Heritage Conservation and Craft Days for a taster session. I came away, just as dusk was falling, wishing I could have stayed longer and feeling absurdly proud of the wooden spatula I’d crafted in the space of one afternoon!

The Woodland Craft days are held every Thursday and on the last Saturday of the month, and they offer a unique opportunity to learn traditional skills associated with our ancient woodlands. There’s the chance to take part in traditional crafts, discover coppicing and habitat management work, plus you can enjoy wonderfully warming food prepared in the woods and cooked on an open fire.

The first thing to mention is the setting. Woodlands are wonderfully therapeutic: they are beautiful, beautifully silent, and a fantastic place to observe the wildlife. Here you can enjoy the wonderful scents of woodland, newly-sawn timber and food being cooked on the campfire.

Managing woodland is all about ensuring the future health and wellbeing of the site, the wildflowers and the wildlife, but I also found it very complementary to my health and wellbeing! After meeting all the friendly and welcoming people who attend the sessions you can tell they feel just the same.

I discovered more about traditional woodland management, including cutting and shaping stakes for natural deer barriers to the coppiced areas. I also became well and truly immersed in whittling my own spatula, which became a real quest for perfection! It’s truly grounding to see a natural product created from something that was part of the woodland just an hour earlier.

Every Thursday the group meets on Essendyke Road, Bretton, Peterborough PE3 8JD from 10am-10.15am, when they then travel to the woodland location. On the last Saturday of the month they work in Grimeshaw Wood on Essendyke Road, Bretton, Peterborough PE3 8JD from 10am-4pm. Just remember to wear suitable clothing and footwear for all weather conditions!

If you would like further details about joining the group, please contact Matthew Robinson, Forest for Peterborough Woodland Heritage Project Officer. Call 01733 568408 or email matthew.robinson@pect.org.uk. My advice is you won’t regret it!



2015: The year in which to build strong, sustainable communities

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 12.01.2015

Time: 15:40

The start of a new year provides a fantastic opportunity to look back at the previous 365 days and the achievements that have been made. One of the accomplishments Peterborough should be most proud of is how its various community groups have gone from strength to strength.

The formation of a happy, healthy city can be aided by connecting communities up and ensuring people are not isolated or without support. Community groups afford numerous opportunities for participants to gain new skills, build upon a network of friends, and make a difference to their surroundings and the lives of those around them.  

Whether it’s larger organisations leading the way, local charities or groups of volunteers getting together, there have been some fantastic projects running in 2014 that have helped the city become stronger and more sustainable every day.

PECT’s community projects include Greeniversity, a green skill share initiative that gives local people the opportunity to teach and learn everything from bee keeping to bike maintenance, creating sustainable communities for the future.

We are also connecting communities to their environment through the Forest for Peterborough Project, which seeks to plant one tree for every person in Peterborough by 2030, and Woodland Heritage in Action, which aims to protect the natural and cultural heritage of Bretton’s ancient woods by widening public participation. 

Love Local is a community engagement project that aims to tackle health inequalities in Peterborough by addressing barriers to healthy eating through a linked programme of cooking skills, nutrition knowledge and food growing skills. The Love Local project team are currently working across five inner-city hostels.

The Green Backyard has hit the headlines recently in its bid to raise funds to buy the land it’s on and save it from destruction from developers. This community growing project, in the heart of Peterborough, has grown and grown due to the passion and dedication of its volunteers.  The Green Backyard could not exist without the people of Peterborough working together, and it is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through community spirit and enthusiasm.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can see a list of further community groups in Peterborough and its surrounding areas here. Whether it’s joining a group, volunteering, donating or simply spreading the word, remember to make 2015 the year you get involved. 



Love Local

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 24.12.2014

Time: 10:40

You can make small changes for a New Year filled with health and happiness, explains April Sotomayor.

As we get ready to bring in a new year, many of us will take time to think about our lifestyles and what we can do to eat better...to feel better...to live better! Yes, I’m talking about the loved and (mostly) loathed New Year’s resolutions – the promises we make to ourselves with the hope of having a healthier and happier year than the one before.

Many of us will aim as high as possible, often embarking upon very punishing resolutions, almost as a way to atone for such a decadent Christmas holiday season. I’m talking fad diets or quitting schemes that call for extreme abstinence from the things that often make us feel unwell – alcohol, smoking, too much meat, fatty foods, sweets. But as you consider how to start the new year off right, I’d like to appeal to your more moderate side!

Rather than starting January off with an extreme personal challenge, to be endured rather than the principle itself enduring for the whole year and beyond, perhaps we can think instead of the importance of making reasonable goals for our health.

I recommend taking baby steps. Create little habits that involve just enough change to enable you to feel some results, without killing your sense of willpower and destroying your feeling of achievement. Perhaps start by walking to the local market or shop to buy some seasonal ingredients for a delicious salad – you’ll be getting a bit of exercise, buying something fresh and tasty, and building relationships with local food providers.

PECT’s work with schools and communities through Love Local has been all about helping people to make small changes like these– such as learning how to cook simple recipes and understanding where our food comes from so we can make healthier choices. We’re committed to helping people reconnect with local food, which is one of the simplest ways to get out there and do something good for your health.

Worried about sticking with it? Enlist the help of an enthusiastic child in your life. By getting them excited about new ingredients and flavours and showing children simple techniques that will help them put together healthy meals is both fun and fulfilling. Getting your kids involved is a great way to keep you on track as their enthusiasm for helping out in the kitchen grows. And best yet, you’ll be able to enjoy one of life’s great pleasures: sitting around the table to enjoy a good meal in the presence of family or friends.

So here’s to creating realistic and fun New Year’s resolutions for yourself and your family! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out about any free Love Local cookery workshops or support available to Peterborough communities and schools for healthy food education.



Winter Festival: Environmental Superheroes Part 2

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 18.12.2014

Time: 11:56

We always like to share environmental news and events that show the positive work happening across the city! 

The Children's University is a national project that recognises the achievements of young people who take part in out of hours learning activities. Peterborough Children's University, University Centre Peterborough (UCP), Peterborough Regional College (PRC) and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) present the following activity, taking place at University Centre Peterborough. 

Winter Festival: Environmental Superheroes Part 2
22nd-23rd December, 9.30am-1pm

After the success of the first project which saw children write a pledge committing to green living, Environmental Superheroes RETURNS! University Centre Peterborough is hosting two mornings for young people to come in and demonstrate their creative skills. 

The sessions will have a hands-on approach with practical activities and competitions. Activities will include recycling relays, academic lectures and opportunities to recycle waste as gifts. All children will leave with some craft materials made from recycled materials. 

The Winter Festival will be run by staff from UCP and Peterborough City Council but children under the age of 10 will need to be accompanied by an adult. Some activities might involve paint, so please bring some old clothes as activities could be messy. Refreshments will be available throughout the morning, but you may also want to bring some of your own. 

For more details and to book please email ucpenquiries@anglia.ac.uk or call 0845 196 5750.


Have a Greeniversity Christmas!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 28.11.2014

Time: 15:11

Why not have a homemade Christmas this year and make your own festive presents, decorations and food?

Greeniversity teachers run special Christmas-themed classes so you can find a cheaper, more personal way to celebrate the festive period, explains local participant Jodie Denton. Try anything from making a Christmas table centre piece through to learning how to make your own pickled and preserved foods at home.

Greeniversity is a community skills network that’s all about living better in a way that values the environment. It allows people to try new skills or learn about alternative methods of doing things. It also gives you the opportunity to teach others your skills and hobbies. Throughout it all, you can meet other like-minded people in your own area.

The thing I enjoy most about Greeniversity is the variety of classes I been involved with. Having registered in September, I’ve already been involved with numerous sessions including making cards from recycled materials, how to make my own healthy chocolates and learning how to identify moths and trees in my local woods. Not only have I increased my skill set by attending these sessions, but I have also met some fantastic people in my area that I may not have met otherwise.

Classes run all year round. It’s easy to get involved with Greeniversity, just register for an account on www.greeniversity.org.uk to see a list of free classes run by Greeniversity teachers and other environmental organisations in your area, and then click on a session to book your space on the course. Sessions are available for all abilities unless specifically stated.

With Christmas on the way there has never been a better time to join the Greeniversity network. Having already made some Christmas chocolates and a decorative willow star I can guarantee that a home-made Christmas is the cheapest and most fun way to celebrate the festive season.

Register now at www.greeniversity.org.uk/sign-up 
For more information on becoming a Greeniversity teacher yourself email peterborough@greeniversity.org.uk or call 01733 866437.



Ready, Steady, Cook!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 01.09.2014

Time: 14:49

As part of the Green Backyard’s annual Overground Arts Jam, Love Local put on a Ready-Steady-Cook event. This involved two teams working together to come up with original dishes using fresh, local ingredients and outdoor cooking equipment. Karen and Emma from PECT were on two opposing teams, recruiting members of the community to take part in the challenge. The teams were then given 20 minutes to come up with ideas and rustle up a meal using the ingredients provided.

Both teams created some mouth-watering dishes, including ratatouille with poached eggs, a vegetable omelet, stuffed peppers and even eggy bread!

Spectators were then given the chance to sample the dishes before casting their vote, with comments being made on how impressive the food tasted.

Emma, the Love Local Project Officer at PECT said, “Using events like these are a fantastic way of engaging the local community, whilst demonstrating how quick and easy it can be to create healthy dishes from scratch”.

The event was a great success and we look forward to doing it again soon. Our special thanks go to the Green Backyard for hosting the event and to Ikea who gave us the funds to buy prizes.

To find out more about Love Local’s events and activities, contact Emma at emma.hookham@pect.org.uk or call 01733 882545.


#local #communities #healthy eating 

Love Local's Food-Growing Course

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 06.06.2014

Time: 11:56

The Love Local project team here at PECT is very pleased to announce the launch of its brand new food-growing course, led by a community gardening expert from The Green Backyard.

This “Let’s Get Growing” course is aimed at adults and families living in targeted areas of Peterborough.

Our first workshop took place at the Gladstone Children’s Centre on 5th June. We began the workshop with a discussion about food growing and the benefits of incorporating more fruits, vegetables and herbs in the diet. We then got our hands messy planting seeds in mini gardening pots.

Next week we’ll be outside in the garden, preparing the growing area and sowing some of our own seeds.

Our next workshops will be taking place at Gladstone Children's Centre from 10-12pm on the following dates:
19th June, 3rd July, 17th July, 31st July, 14th August, 28th August

To find out more about our food-growing course or to book a place, email emma.hookham@pect.org.uk or call 01733 882545


#foodgrowing #communities #food #healthyliving #sustainable #lovelocal

RiverCare features in the April issue of Only Peterborough Magazine

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 28.03.2014

Time: 16:09

Peterborough Environment City Trust, Keep Britain Tidy and Anglian Water have been working together and have funded more than 40 RiverCare groups across the region, helping people care for their local stretch of river.

Groups of volunteers have been working together to clean out stretches of the River Nene, which has supported Peterborough’s ambition of becoming the UK’s Environment Capital.

RiverCare is a fantastic way for locals to get involved and do something practical to improve their local environment.

Read the April issue of only Peterborough Magazine to read all about our RiverCare project.


Megan Livesey, Trainee Community Forester, Skills for the Future Trainee.

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 21.10.2013

Time: 17:25

Since graduating back in 2009 with a degree in Countryside Conservation I struggled to find a job which was relevant to my course. After volunteering through various conservation groups and working full-time at an insurance company, I was offered the 12 month position of Trainee Community Forester through PECT, a position funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. I have been at my new position for three months now and love every minute. No day is the same and every day invites new ideas and activities ranging from woodland management to carving a wooden spoon with a piece of Hazel you’ve just coppiced from the woods.  I have learnt about woodland management and conservation, engaging volunteers, green woodcraft skills and how to create a site survey for new tree planting sites. 

The placement has given me the initial stepping stone for me to progress in the environmental sector and allows me to have the confidence in working in an environmental field. I am constantly learning and absorbing new skills and I am very grateful for being given such a great opportunity, I look forward to what the next 9 months brings in my placement.


Skills for the future, Conservation, Woodlands

Amanda Assistant Reserves Officer, Skills for the Future Trainee

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 02.09.2013

Time: 15:56

Working for the Wildlife Trust for the last 6 months has been everything I had hoped. The opportunity provided by the Skills for the Future scheme has allowed me to gain the training and practical skills I need to work in practical conservation.
I have gained the professional qualifications of trailer training, brushcutter training, first aid at work and the pesticide spraying qualifications of PA1 and PA6. I have my chainsaw qualifications still to do this winter; all of these should give me a good baseline of skills to offer when I start applying for new jobs.
Not only has this placement added to my professional qualifications it has also improved my general practical skills and knowledge. I have gained experience in fencing, mowing, charcoal making, invasive plant species control and working with volunteer/corporate work parties.
This placement has been great, every day is different and I’m always learning new things. Bring on the next six months! ?


wildlife trust
skills for the future