Opportunity Peterborough Awarded £10,000 in Big Lottery Fund Traditional Skills Grant

Dry stone wallers, PeterboroughOpportunity Peterborough has received a grant of £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund under its ‘Awards for All’ grant scheme. The grant gives local young people who are currently not in education, employment or training a unique opportunity to gain traditional building and land-based skills as a route towards further training, apprenticeships and employment.

The land in the western part of Peterborough has a distinctive rural character made up of rolling hills, farms and a wealth of dry stone walls. Many of these walls have begun to fall into disrepair with the risk that a distinctive part of our heritage may be lost. Landowners of local historic sites will be opening-up their land as educational centre’s allowing hands-on training opportunities in traditional skills.

Trainees will gain a basic understanding of the principles and theory of walling, how to approach construction and then how to put those theories into practice with actual wall reconstruction. They will also benefit from learning valuable life skills such as working towards targets, working independently and as part of a team, health and safety and timekeeping and experience working in a professional environment.

The wider community will also be able to take part in ‘taster days’ in traditional dry stone walling construction, enabling them to fix their own properties to preserve the local character of the area.

This is a pilot project run in partnership with Peterborough Regional College and it is hoped that it will lead into longer term training and potentially apprenticeships.

Alice Kershaw, Heritage Regeneration Officer, said: “This innovative project will provide key skills for local young people and community groups, as well as protecting and enhancing the city’s heritage. It will also enable young people from the urban area to experience and get a feel for the rich rural environment that is a key part of Peterborough’s character and attraction. We are really grateful for the input from local landowners, without whose support this project would not be possible.”

Steve Bowyer, Head of City Vibrancy at Opportunity Peterborough, added: “Although this may seem a small project to some, it is a fantastic initiative which will be really beneficial to the lives of the young people involved, and crucially make best use of assets that the city already has. We need to seize any opportunity that comes forward to enhance our skills base in the city and look at all avenues to employment and training if we are to transform the city’s economy.”