Volunteers ae making a clean sweep of the streets in Sunderland.
A task force of litter pickers are sweeping across East Sunderland, helping transform back lanes and green spaces and persuading people to take greater pride in their communities.
Within a month, they have collected more than four tonnes of litter, giving up 300 hours of their own time so far to improve the appearance of their area.
The ‘Cleaner Communities’ programme, run by Sunderland City Council, has so far seen 190 volunteers recruited who are working in partnership with the authority’s regular street cleaning services.
The council’s East Sunderland Area Committee has awarded £50,000 across six voluntary and community groups to deliver 187 activities in total, including community clean-ups, painting schemes and educational campaigns.
Coun Ellen Ball, East Sunderland Area Committee Chairman, said: “This is about people being proud of where they live and wanting to keep it clean and tidy.
Working with volunteers to bring the community close together and hopefully give people a little bit of pride back in where they liveJane Nesbitt
“The council does what it can to tidy up litter and clear rubbish, but it is really important that residents and local businesses join with us in helping keep our communities looking their best.
“The volunteers are already making a huge difference, collecting several tonnes of litter already and being prepared to go out in all-weathers to make a difference. Our hope is that their enthusiasm will rub off on others who perhaps do not show as much interest in their local environment as they should.”
One of the organisations working with the council and recruiting volunteers is community partnership Back on the Map, based in Hendon.
Jane Nesbitt, from Back on the Map, said: “The whole concept for us is to keep Hendon tidy, working with volunteers to bring the community closer together and hopefully give people a little bit of pride back in where they live.
“People are very grateful for what we do. We have people who come out of their homes and see us doing it, then get stuck in themselves.
“Some of the older people or people with disabilities might not be able to physically clean for themselves outside their homes and the feedback we get from them is excellent.”
Other organisations recruiting volunteers for the project are Blue Watch Youth Centre, The Box Youth Project, Make Your Way, Groundwork North East and I.C.O.S.