Wirral is a diverse area, ranging from open countryside with little villages and hamlets dotted along country roads to swathes of land with a history of maritime and land-based industry. But, there is one thing that is common across all the varied land- and town-scapes; litter.
This is not an issue that is unique to Wirral; it is a blight that every town, city, village, and green-leafed countryside footpath suffers from, the length and breadth of the UK.
‘Tidy Thomas‘ is a group of Wirral school-children who have taken up the challenge of righting this wrong by going out collecting litter from the highways and byways of Wirral.
Thomas Morrison, age 11, started collecting litter three years ago and before long friends had joined him on his litter picks. Thomas told birkenhead.news, “I’m a big fan of the outdoors and I want a safe and clean environment for everyone to enjoy. Also, it makes the area nice for wildlife.”
Thomas told us that he once found a family of hedgehogs hidden by litter and reported his discovery to a local nature group who took them in and after a bit of TLC released them back into a safe area.
Karen Rotheram is one of the adults who along with Thomas’s mum, Dawn Taplin, identifies sites for the team to do their litter picks. Karen’s 11-year-old son, Adam Beazley, is one of the team members of ‘Tidy Thomas.’ He said, “I really enjoy picking litter, it’s something useful and I get to do it with my friends.”
“It’s nice to keep the play areas clean and tidy, especially in the summer when the most people go there.”, he said.
Thomas has recently started at high school and has encouraged his new friends to join him on litter picks.
Occasionally, the ‘Tidy Thomas’ team encounter waste that they can’t handle, this could be medical/drugs paraphernalia or larger fly-tipped items. Thomas’s mum, Dawn Taplin told us that that the kids know not to go near anything drugs-related and she reports the finds to Merseyside Police, who arrange for safe removal.
For the larger fly-tipped items Dawn says, “These can easily be reported to the council online or on the phone and they respond very quickly.”
The ‘Tidy Thomas’ team is now 20 strong, drawn from Thomas’s friends from school and from his friends at the community group ‘Building Bridges.’ “It is a very community-minded group with a love for Wirral, its people, and its streets.”, Dawn said.
With regards to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, Karen Rotheram said, “Obviously, being in and out of the lockdowns has slowed everything down. We managed a few “bubble” litter picks at the end of the summer but we are hoping that when we can, we are going to work with a few community spaces in regard to litter picks.”
Dawn says, “I’m super proud of the Tidy Thomas team! They all work super hard to help the local communities.” She adds that people can help us by putting their rubbish in the bin!
If there is one thing we can learn from these kids, it is a sense of civic pride that is sadly absent from many adults.
For more information abouy the ‘Tidy Thomas’ team, please see their Facebook page here.
All images credit: Tidy Thomas. Please note that photos are either pre-COVID-19 or family bubbles.