For years, flower troughs and hanging baskets added colour around the city centre’s outside spaces, but lockdown and then budget cuts meant there have been no flowers since 2020. Last summer, the Vicar of Peterborough, The Revd Michelle Dalliston, and Pep Cipriano, Business Improvement District Manager at Peterborough Positive, came up with a plan to bring back the flowers.
From the outset the project aimed to work in partnership with different groups and so in January workers at HMP Peterborough began the construction of 14 planters made from recycled wooden pallets, while children at West Town Primary Academy within the parish created designs for the prison art department to paint onto the sides of the planters.
At the end of May, students from Marshfields School planted up the bright tubs with a vast range of blooms from local nurseries. Peterborough City Council provided the soil for the planters and assisted with the siting all around the medieval St John’s Church, the Guildhall and Cathedral Square to spread the joy and bring back nature to the city.
The contribution from HMP Peterborough has been particularly significant for those involved. Ian Whiteside, Director of HMP Peterborough said: ‘We are delighted to be involved in this project to bring floral displays back to the city centre. Supporting our local community is an important part of our social value commitment and gives the prisoners involved a sense of making a positive contribution through their work.’
For St John’s Church, set in the heart of the City, community support is very much top of the agenda and the church is one of the funded Community Support Hubs which has been offering warm spaces and free meals throughout last winter and is now a Health Hub too. The Revd Michelle Dalliston said ‘This has been such an exciting project to work on together and making a real difference to our city centre. People are really enjoying the flowers and the bright designs of the planters themselves which can’t help but make you smile! It’s been fantastic to involve so many different people and groups in a joint project which benefits everyone and which has brought a real sense of achievement. The only challenge now is keeping them watered throughout the summer!’
Peterborough Positive, St John’s Church volunteers and Marshfields School are all sharing in the watering regime, with support from local shop and restaurant owners too.