Carol's story - making light work of litter picking
There have been many great ways that our communities have pulled together over the past, tumultuous year, with people going above and beyond to help others and also make a difference to the physical world around them.
Carol Hopkins from Welwyn Garden City is one such example, having helped make a big difference to the local environment alongside other like-minded litter pickers. She'd been litter picking in her local area for two years before the pandemic struck, though she had no equipment. "I'd just been taking out bags and my marigolds!" she says.
Carol had joined one Community Litter Pick organised by Lisa Banks at Bushy Lee Park, before becoming a member of the Clean Up Welwyn Garden City Facebook group founded by Lloyd Harrison. Carol and Lloyd started organising the litter picks that the group championed and secured some litter picking equipment from the council, through its Adopt a Road scheme.
Once Covid took hold and collection of the bags became difficult for refuse crews due to the lockdown restrictions, Carol volunteered to collect rubbish at Stanborough Lakes. There, she was approached by local people who also wanted to help to keep the Lakes free from rubbish. Carol was able to supply them with equipment so they too could help out. They continue to litter pick there now.
Carol says that one chink of light to come out of a time that many of us would rather forget, is that many residents on furlough have been able to volunteer their time to join in the litter picks. "People have been more tuned in to their local environment. Then they've seen us on Facebook and asked how they can help," Carol says.
The commitment our communities have shown has been something that's really impressed Carol. "Some people are even going out very early in the morning after a nightshift," she says, having herself worked as a supply teacher through some of the pandemic. Many go out on their own, just getting some equipment from Carol, including the picker rods, gloves and high visibility jackets. She calls them the Clean Up WGC Super Solo Pickers! Carol estimates she's now given away 80 pickers and has been given more by the council to keep up with demand.
And it's something all ages have taken to - Monks Walk School and other Secondary Schools have got in touch and asked if they could get their Duke of Edinburgh Award students involved. About 30 of them are now doing litter picking on a regular basis. Local primary schools including St Johns in Digswell and Watchlytes School have been inspired to do their bit, and the group has also given talks to local scout groups. Many children come with their parents and are now regulars on the litter picks. "One little girl comes along in her princess costume!" Carol beams.
Carol estimates that they have around 100 people litter picking throughout the year at any given time around the borough and it's growing all the time, making a visible difference to the local environment.
Would you like to get involved? Then come along to the latest organised litter pick at half term. It's at Moneyhole Lane Playing fields on Thursday (3 June) at 11am.
You can find more information on the Facebook page 'Clean Up Welwyn Garden City'. For more on the Adopt a Road scheme, see www.welhat.gov.uk/adoptaroad