Wirral Council is saying thank you and paying tribute to the many volunteers – working alone or as part of organised groups – who help keep the borough clean and tidy on a regular basis.
The council, of course, has overall responsibility for public waste bins and street cleansing and these services are carried out on their behalf by a combination of in-house staff and contractors.
But keeping on top of the volume of waste and litter that is left behind, particularly in areas that attract lots of visitors, is an increasingly difficult task for a service with limited resources.
This has been brought into even sharper focus in recent weeks because of the increased number of COVID-19 cases which have caused staff shortages due to illness or isolation. Biffa has had to prioritise their services as a result and the support of the volunteers with litter picking and other tasks has been invaluable.
Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment and Climate Emergency Committee, said, “Ideally, everyone would take care of any waste they create while out and about by putting it in the nearest bin. Or, if the nearest bin is full, finding the next one with space. Or, if they are all full, taking it home with them and putting in their domestic waste.
“But in an imperfect world, the council does need the help of ‘superhero’ volunteers to keep on top of issues such as litter and we are lucky in Wirral to be blessed with armies of them; people of all ages and from all walks of life, enthusiastic to play their part.”
Here are a few of the active groups we are aware of in Wirral, who dedicate their time to keeping Wirral clean and tidy:-
• Wirral Wombles
This is a group of like-minded people who come together to inspire and support each other to make the Wirral an even better place to be. Anyone can be a ‘womble’ – all they have to do is pledge to pick up a couple of pieces of litter when they’re out and about.
Their Facebook group boasts more than 2,600 members, who post photos regularly of their own litter picks which can range from one or two items to three or four bin-bags full.
The Wombles say, “Wirral Wombles all began because we just wanted to get like-minded people who love and appreciate our wonderful Wirral peninsula together. It’s been fantastic to find so many wonderful people, some who were already active as litter pickers and others who have been inspired by the group. We love the idea of keeping your patch clean and giving the Wirral the love it deserves.”
• The New Brighteners
As the name suggests, this group of hardy volunteers was born out of a desire to help keep the beaches and waters in and around New Brighton clean and free of rubbish. Over the last 10 years their desire and commitment towards the environment has grown stronger and broader to embrace many ideals and support for different groups with a strong marine environmental remit.
They can be seen regularly on patrol in the resort, carrying out impromptu picks after busy, sunny days or more organised sweeps, open to anyone.
The Brighteners say: “One of the hardest things is getting the message, ‘take your rubbish home, or at least bin it!’, across to certain sectors of society, so we put together four A1 (very Large) aluminium laminate posters with very blunt, ‘to the point’ messages, which are located at strategic points.
These were funded through the ‘Wirral Together Fund’ and hopefully this will have a really positive and ongoing effect over the coming months. We would also like to say a big well done to all the Brightener’s members, who are regularly picking rubbish from beaches and their close environs, and helping to keep New Brighton’s beaches looking ‘new’.”
• TLC – Elizabeth: caring for Wirral & the World
Elizabeth is a 10 year old, multi award-winning, young environmentalist. In 2017, aged six and spurred into action by seeing someone throw rubbish out of their car window, she started litter picking and became known as ‘The Little Collector. Shortly after she founded a children’s litter picking group.
The TLC Crew are children who share Elizabeth’s love of the environment and since those early days over eighty have taken part: some have even been inspired to start their own community campaigns. The crew meet regularly to litter pick the places that matter to them.
Elizabeth says: “I have grown and learned more and more about ways to protect our planet, and reduce the plastic and waste we all produce. My daily lifestyle has changed dramatically! I share easy, achievable ways to live a plastic free & more sustainable lifestyle to help protect our wonderful environment & precious oceans.
Lots of little changes all add up and can have a massive impact. I’m not so little anymore but I do want to inspire the next generation of little collectors so we can continue to show our beautiful planet the TLC it truly deserves. Together we can make a difference.”
• Tidy Thomas Team
Tidy Thomas is an 11 year old from Moreton who wants to improve Wirral in whatever way he can – keeping the streets clean, tidy and safe. The Tidy Thomas team, which consists of children and adults, can regularly be seen litter picking in Moreton, Upton, Overchurch, Birkenhead, Leasowe, Saughall Massie, Hoylake and Rock Ferry.
Thomas’ mum, Dawn, says: “Thomas wants to bring the community together and leads litter picks from places such as Sandbrooke Community Centre and the Quirky Café in Hoylake. Thomas also joins forces with other like-minded local people, such as Brushing Beautiful and Birkenhead Bubble, to make the area are better and cleaner place.”
• Brushing Beautiful
Brushing Beautiful was formed when Chrisell Kenyon from Meols was just six years old. She got the idea when she noticed her parents struggling to read roadsigns to their holiday destination because they were dirty, broken or missing.
With the help of her parents and her little brother, Frederick, Chrisell started cleaning street signs in her local community. She also helps the council by reporting broken, missing or vandalised signs.
Chrisell says: “By doing this I feel that I am giving something back to my lovely community and to show how proud I am to be living on the Wirral. As well as doing my bit to improve road safety in the community. I also pick up any litter whilst on my way to clean signs and sort this into the appropriate bins when back at home.”
Cllr Grey adds:
These are just a few of the inspirational examples of Wirral people going above and beyond to improve the areas around where we live, but I know there are far more – individuals who will bag other people’s rubbish just as they go about their own business. On behalf of the whole council, I’d like to thank you all; we couldn’t do it without you.”
Wirral Council has also committed to formally acknowledging and thanking the Wirral Wombles and others for their support with a Mayoral reception, once this can safely and conveniently take place.