21 November 2018 | West and South West England
These litter pickers came together to clean up their streets.
They are the community group who came together to clean up their local area after becoming sick of seeing growing piles of rubbish.
Clean Our Patch was founded by El Clarke and her husband Ashton Samuels, 32, after they moved to Plymouth. “We quickly became quite upset and fed up with the amount of litter that was on the streets near our home,” says El. The couple, who believe that the problems stem from a mix of social and economic issues, also believe this was a chance for the whole community to come together.
“We wanted to encourage community spirit and set an example to people around us so that we could create a cleaner, safer environment for ourselves and the next generation,” says El, 33.
And that’s definitely happened, as El explains their youngest member is just three, whilst their oldest is 81.
Passports, safes, bank cards… these are just some of the things a group of community litter pickers have discovered while trying to keep the streets cleaner around their homes.
“The group brings people together and can help combat loneliness – this might be the only time a member comes out for example. And it encourages new and special friendships too,” she adds. “And we have members with complex autism and some who are in wheelchairs – everyone just mucks in and it’s lovely watching them doing it with a smile on their face.”
The group tends to stick to urban areas and are contacted by people messaging them on Facebook, asking them to come and sort out a particular area.
“I call them my litter parties,” El smiles. As a thank you, they arrange family days at the beach to express gratitude to the volunteers, as well as picnics and barbecues. “We’ve had children who’ve never been to the beach feel sand under their feet for the first time, which is lovely to see,” she adds.
Since March, the group has collected 10.5 tonnes of waste, an incredible achievement, and they’re currently in the process of trying to raise funds for some high-vis vests and pickers – at the moment they borrow them from the local council. Clean Our Patch are a great example of where people, and the communities they live in, can thrive together.
“We hope the group grows and grows,” El smiles. So what is the biggest litter challenge El faces?
“Cigarette butts,” she says. “They’re the bane of my life.”