ANDY BURROWS: With two months to go until Christmas, a campaign has been started to get people to buy hand made in Peterborough. We’re being asked to support everything from school Christmas fairs, to the hand made markets in Peterborough city centre. The group Hand Made in Peterborough says it supports the local economy, and is better quality and value for money. Jo Taylor has been off to find out what it’s all about. (TAPE) (OB)
CRAFTER 1: You know that someone has actually made something, and they’ve sat there and had all the energy to knit away and make something really good.
CRAFTER 2: And it gives people that are sometimes marginalised employment.
CRAFTER 1: They’re getting something individual and new and different, and maybe nobody else has got one.
CRAFTER 3: It makes me feel really happy and special when someone buys my work, and it makes me feel appreciated. Because I am a young, poor arts graduate, and you can’t really get any jobs in that field at the moment.
JO TAYLOR: These independent crafters are preparing for Peterborough’s Christmas markets. And they’re just some of the 250 members of Hand Made in Peterborough. The group, which joins together creative organisations across the city, say that buying hand made boosts the local economy, and offers an alternative to the High Street. But is hand made better than High Street?
STEVE BOWYER: It would be wrong to say that big business is bad and small business is good. As a city, we need that whole mix to come together, and if you look at those successful cities, it’s where they’ve got the mix of the independents , the small businesses, that actually complement the big ones, and attract people in on a much larger scale.
JO TAYLOR: That’s Steve Bowyer from Opportunity Peterborough. It’s also being supported by Peterborough’s Environment City Trust, although Rachel Huxley the Chief Executive says it’s not as simple as hand made being the greenest option.
RACHEL HUXLEY: Hand made items are generally locally produced, so you’ve got less transportation associated with them. There’s less packaging produced with them, and they are unique gifts, they are supporting the local economy. So it never is that simple, but it’s kind of a case of thinking about what you buy, and where you buy it from, and hand made is a really lovely option. John Lewis has a good environmental policy, and a lot of the way they work and operate is done in consideration with the environment as well. So it really depends on the gift in question.
JO TAYLOR: Steve Bowyer says Opportunity Peterborough is behind the campaign, but big business does have its place.
STEVE BOWYER: There’s the macro economy, which is the Boots, the John Lewis, Queensgates of this world, which are an essential anchor to the economy of this city. We can’t deny that. They attract people in. The local economy and the local people creating their own market if you like, equally important. And of course if you are paying them direct, then they will be spending their money direct, and so the economy, the local economy of course, is boosted.
JO TAYLOR: Whether hand made or High Street, it’s hoped there will be record sales in Peterborough this year, despite these tough times, as shoppers hunt for the ultimate stocking filler. (LIVE) (STUDIO) ..
ANDY BURROWS: Keely Mills is a member of the group Hand Made in Peterborough, and organises a market in St John’s Square as well. Hello to you Keely.
KEELY MILLS: Hello Andy. How are you?
ANDY BURROWS: I’m alright, thank you very much. But is this really going to work? Don’t people want fantastic electrical whizzy things that are made in Japan?
KEELY MILLS: I think they do. But I think if people think about honestly their best presents as children, it was probably something that was made by a grand parent or a friend or an auntie.
ANDY BURROWS: Keely, I’m tearing up here. (LAUGHS)
KEELY MILLS: But I think that’s the thing with the hand made, it is unique, and it is special, and we do do a lot of recycling and up-cycling as well, so it’s good for the environment. We want to work in conjunction with the local economy as well as with big business, and that’s why we set up an alternative fair on a Thursday evening. People can still go and shop in Queensgate, but if they want something slightly different, then there is something there. And that was something that was really missing from Peterborough.
ANDY BURROWS: If it was your birthday tomorrow, what would you like? If I went round the hand made market stall, is there something that you’ve got y our eye on?
KEELY MILLS: A couple of things. I probably would want some hand made chocolate, because they’re the best I’ve ever tasted, particularly the Bailey’s Truffles. They’re made by somebody called Sam Oxby. And probably an Angry Bird tea-cosy that my friend Samatha makes, which are amazing.
ANDY BURROWS: Angry Bird tea-cosy. It’s a lovely image Keely, but can you assure me that these are top quality things? They’re not just a little bit of rustic home-made charm, and they’re slightly ill-fitting and perhaps not the best quality.
KEELY MILLS: No, they are definitely the best quality. The people who make them really care about what they’re doing.
ANDY BURROWS: I suppose you can always pass it off as your own as well, couldn’t you?
KEELY MILLS: Well I hope not. I’m really careful about who comes along with their stalls, and I do look at the items beforehand to make sure that that doesn’t happen. Because you know there are some people that might buy something and then try and pass it off. I try not to do that. I do .. Obviously I know a lot of the stall holders as well, which really helps, that kind of intimacy.
ANDY BURROWS: I was thinking more of me, when I hand it to my wife at Christmas, and say there you are, see that Angry Bird tea-cosy. I made that. She’d never believe me. Keely, thank you very much. An absolute pleasure.