Saturday, 13 October 2018

Introducing Nicola Day, Orton activist and volunteer

Nicola Day
Nicola Day - Orton activist and volunteer

Hello, thanks for coming to find out more about me.

I've recently been elected as Joint Coordinator of the Peterborough Green Party alongside my colleague and friend Alex Airey. We've  stepped into the rather large shoes of Julie Howell, our previous coordinator. Julie has historically become our first Green City Councillor and has handed the baton to us to continue her good work.

Growing up in Orton

I grew up in Orton Goldhay with my mum, dad and brother. I spent my formative years  roller skating around Hinchcliffe, Riseholme and Brundenell and playing street hockey on St John's playground.

My parents moved to Peterborough when I was 4 months old, in 1978, just after they had adopted me. My Dad found work with Balfour Beatty electrifying the railway. I still look in awe at the railway lines whenever I leave and enter the city, and think of how my Dad helped make this way of travelling to and from Peterborough possible.

Like many families we moved to Peterborough in its first phase as a 'new town'. My grandmother had seen an advert on television promoting the city and encouraged my parents to move here. They found work and made the move. They moved from Essex where the housing was expensive and the work often piecemeal. So they came here to settle and raise us into a better life.

I attended St John's School and then later Bushfield Community School. I loved growing up in the Ortons. It gave us freedom and empowerment as children. In the summers we would play rounders on the back field behind Hinchcliffe (the area which is now Scotenden). We would play foxes and hounds and hide and seek. The streets were a safe place for us kids to grow up in and play, unfettered by adult intrusions.

Nicola Day and Julie Howell
Helping Julie fight fly-tipping in Orton

A career in the arts

At 19, I had my son. I was young, but I was determined to give him the best chance in life. A year later I enrolled on an A Level Fine Art course at the Peterborough Regional College. I did this just as 'something to do'. But after getting a B grade at A Level, I realised that I may have more potential than I originally thought. I found out about an Access to Higher Education Course, which I enrolled on and passed. This then led me on to my degree in Cultural Studies, which I gained through the PRC via the University of Sheffield.

At this point, I was so encouraged by the brilliant lecturers that had given me this chance to gain a degree, that I decided that I wanted to teach. I wanted to give hope to other children that may not have thought they are 'good enough' to reach their ambitions.

I was accepted at Cambridge University to study at PGCE in English and Drama. This was difficult and challenging. I had to wake my small son up at 6am to then cart him off on the back of a bike to a childminder so I could catch a train to Cambridge. And people like me didn't really go to Cambridge University.

However, I rose to the challenge and after qualifying started my first teaching job in Peterborough at Hereward Community College. In my first year at Hereward we got fantastic English results. We were all so proud.

In 2010, I  started an amazing job at a local poets' cottage. I began work in the heritage/museum sector developing the education programme at John Clare Cottage, Helpston, Peterborough. I encouraged many school groups to visit the cottage and worked with pupils who found it difficult to access the mainstream curriculum. I set up six week curators courses for pupils to attend to learn how to develop their skills in the heritage and museums sector. I enjoyed the museum work so much that I found a job and moved up to Northumberland to work on the Collections and Education Programme at The Fusiliers Museum at Alnwick Castle. I developed the activity programme and was responsible for recruiting, training and developing a volunteer team. After that I worked at Wakefield Museums as Community Programmes Officer, engaging the local community into Museum and Arts Projects.

Nicola Day outside St Mary's Church
Outside St Mary's Church in Orton Waterville village

Becoming a teacher

I returned to Peterborough and am now back teaching English in local schools, which I am really enjoying. I have supported Green Parties in different areas up and down the country and can see how Greens can make a real difference to local communities. I stood as North West Cambridgeshire Parliamentary Candidate in 2015 and have most recently been supporting Cllr Julie Howell in Orton, both during and after her election campaign. I am now one of the Peterborough Green Party Coordinators, a role I feel honoured and humbled to have.

The Green Party really believes that developing sustainable and connected local communities can make a difference in peoples lives. It's not always easy in Peterborough as it has been fragmented to some extent by townships, and public transport is something we need work on. But I do believe, that we can work towards these goals of creating interconnected and supportive communities.

I look forward to keeping you posted about the work that Julie, Alex and I are doing in Orton. 

Julie Howell and Nicola Day
At the parish council bulky waste collection with Julie

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