Shaftesbury residents young and old have been tidying up the town’s open spaces today.
Members of the Rainbows, Beavers and Cubs joined the Hilltop Litter Pickers and Shaftesbury town councillors for a community litter clean up. Cub Scout Adam was keen to give up his Saturday morning to help make a difference. “So the world can be a better place,” he said.
The Hilltop Litter Pickers are a group of volunteers who remove cans, bottles, bags and papers for one-hour, twice a month. They have partnered with Shaftesbury Town Council to clean up the town’s streets, parks and roadsides as part of the ‘Great British Spring Clean’.
This national initiative is arranged by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. In March, Shaftesbury Town Council agreed to donate up to £1,000 towards the purchase of equipment for children and adults. The money bought fifty high-visibility jackets, hoops to hold open the plastic sacks, gloves and the tong-like litter pickers.
Hilltop Litter Pickers leader, Ty Crook, was delighted by today’s turnout. “I’m really very pleased with the number of people that we had today. There were 36 adults and 14 children. Every single one of the litter picker kits was taken,” he said.
Ty’s fellow volunteer, Keith West, says that the work parties focused on different parts of Shaftesbury. “Obviously, because we have children with us, it’s difficult to concentrate on roads too much,” said Keith. “We have worked on the Mampitts playing field, Barton Hill playing field and a group were out in front of the Ivy Cross stores. They picked up quite a few bags there.”
Overall, the volunteers collected an impressive amount of litter during their hour of action. “We’ve filled eight bags and there are two or three groups to come back in, so it will be double figures. It’s a lot of litter when you think how big those black bags are,” said Keith.
Young volunteer Jake was surprised at the volume of rubbish that he and his friends removed. “I knew there was a lot of litter around Shaftesbury. The amount that we found was definitely a shock. Me and my friend Daniel came across a whole litter pile in a fence and the bushes,” Jake said.
“It was lovely to see the boys in the park, where they were going into the bushes and picking up the litter,” Ty observed. “Unlike with us adults, where we find it a chore, they were turning it into a big game. Perhaps we should learn something from that.”
“It’s youngsters that we have two educate,” added Keith. “I’m not saying that they are the only people that do it but they are a big part of the rubbish on the ground in schools, parks and playing fields.”
That may be the case with some children, but the civic-minded young people who helped out this morning were motivated to make a difference because they understand the damage that litter can do. “I had to come because of the effects on the environment,” said Daniel Dale. His friend, Oliver Down, explained that school pupils are taught not to drop litter, so he wonders why it happens. “That’s a hard one,” Oliver mused. “You should pick up litter and put it in the bin. Wildlife eats this and can die from it,” he warned. Jake offered a similar message to people who carelessly dispose of their rubbish. “You should know better. It is really bad for nature and the countryside,” he said.
Like his friends, Leo Rybicki-Barbosa filled five bags of rubbish and admitted that it had been tough but enjoyable. “It goes really quickly so I don’t really mind if it is hard work,” Leo said, before adding that he was exhausted. “I did not know there was so much litter in parks and in the bushes. It was a real shock,” he said. His most frequently picked up items were Lucozade bottles.
Following today’s strong community support and assistance, the Hilltop Litter Pickers hope that a more regular community clean up can be arranged. “Now we have done it once, it would be silly to lose this,” Keith said. “Whether it could be done twice a year, I don’t know, but certainly once a year. This was the first so next time, we can be more organised and have more routes worked out and perhaps go further away.”
And Ty was in full agreement. “One or two of the groups want to get involved and they are talking about doing it regularly. I think that would be a lovely idea. The biggest thing is trying to get members for the regular litter picks. We have had a few responses from that so that will help us. It would be lovely to do this all again,” Ty said.
He added his thanks for to the manager of the town’s Domino’s Pizza franchise. “Some of the children were cleaning litter outside and he came out and offered them free pizza, which I thought was great. It was a lovely gesture,” said Ty.
The Hilltop Litter Pickers meet twice a month, on the first and third Wednesday, at 2.30pm. The group convene opposite the Tesco garage entrance, picking up litter for around one hour. All equipment is provided.
Most people are, of course, aware that they should dispose of their waste responsibly and as the litter pickers packed up their equipment and prepared for a group picnic on Barton Hill, Leo offered a reminder. “It’s just really lazy to throw litter on the floor,” he said.