It’s over two and a half years since I had a vision to set up a litter picking group in the Shirley community, and I am encouraged to have seen its development over this time. We have welcomed over 100 different volunteers, half of whom have no other links with the church.
We have had volunteers of all ages, including some families who make it one of their regular monthly activities. It has been fantastic to see over 20 children involved in enthusiastically caring for their environment. On one occasion, a child chose to litter pick instead of attending a friend’s birthday party! The children love using the new dinosaur grabbers funded by a donation.
We have seen that whilst out in our high-vis jackets, people have noticed us at work, and have encouraged us with words of thanks, and at times will stop to talk. Some have even started volunteering.
An important part of our litter picking sessions is building relationships with our volunteers, through talking whilst working, and also at the end spending time together chatting over refreshments, including well-deserved Danish pastries. We also reward the children with badges for their efforts, which they are keen to earn.
We are grateful to Southampton City Council for providing us with some equipment, and with whom we liaise for removal of the rubbish collected; so far that’s 375 black sacks and interesting items.
We have been really encouraged that the amount of rubbish has generally decreased.
We would value your prayers as we continue to develop this community activity and deepen relationships with our volunteers. New volunteers are always welcome, enabling us to expand the areas which we can cover, and together we can make Shirley a cleaner place to enjoy.