You may have seen him around – Peter Phillips, the Folkestone Town Sprucer. He works full-time to smarten up our town. Peter heads a team of volunteers and job-seekers who work as a task-force to tackle long-term dirt and decay and immediate problems like tagging, graffiti and litter.
Specifically, the Sprucer cleans public signage, paints bollards, litterbins and junction boxes, restores flowerbeds and shrubberies, cuts back trees and thickets overhanging thoroughfares, litter-picks, eliminates graffiti, cleans vacant shop fronts, refurbishes public spaces and repairs minor infrastructure. The list goes on.
Self-employed and funded via the Sunflower House registered charity, the Sprucer leads a team of volunteers and job-seekers from Folkestone and Dover. As a result of their involvement with the Sprucer, many of the job-seekers have found full-time employment, with their CVs, self confidence and morale boosted by their involvement with the Sprucer.
Why is the Sprucer necessary? In an ideal world, his work would be carried out by our local authorities, their agents like Veolia and East Kent Housing, and by private landlords, businesses and individuals. The reality is that councils are suffering cutbacks in finance and personnel. In the private sector, old-fashioned values like caring for one’s immediate environment, have largely disappeared – with a few notable exceptions.
It takes a minimum of £35,000 a year to keep the Sprucer in post. Funding is entirely from independent sources like residents, shops, businesses, and the kindness of charitable trusts and foundations. Wilmoths Citroen Folkestone have been tremendously generous by donating a three-seater Berlingo work van worth £15,000 a year to the scheme.
The Sprucer is here to enhance our town, lift public spirits and restore civic pride.