A call has gone out to urge Wearsiders to take a stand in the fight to keep our communities clear and help wildlife thrive.
Durham Wildlife Trust (DWT) us working in conjunction with the People’s Postcode Lottery as it seeks 10,000 pledges which will demonstrate public support for a greener Wearside.
The initiative, known as My Wild Sunderland, has just passed 1,500 pledges.
Among those who have signed up and already making a huge difference is Terri Brooks, a self-employed childminder.
She is responsible for 15 children and lives in Oxclose, Washington, with six-year-old daughter Alice.
They and a team of local young people have carried out everything from litter-picking to erecting bird boxes, calling themselves the Green House Gang.
Terri said: “There has always been a lot of litter, trollies and dog mess polluting our area, which has gradually become worse.
"One day, walking back from school with several children, who were all commenting on the surrounding areas and how dirty and ugly they were, we decided to take a stand.
“The children formed a gang, the Green House Gang, whose aim is to keep nature green.
"We went on to create posters for important missions and contacted Gentoo and Durham Wildlife Trust, who have helped with our operations.
“As an educator to the young people of today, it is my responsibility to ensure these innocent minds are filled with the importance and respect of the natural wildlife around us.
“There’s not much space in the National Curriculum nor the school day to have hours outside spent observing, caring for and exploring nature.
"This is where I come in. Nature is all around us. In a barren world we wouldn’t survive so why is this not taught every day?
“So far we have teamed up with DWT and created bird boxes with families in the community, which have been erected by Gentoo in Oxclose.
"We also litter pick at least once a week on the school run, sometimes along with Gentoo in their community projects.
“Recently we discovered My Wild Sunderland and realised this is exactly what we are doing. We made a pledge and will continue with our hard work involving as many families as possible.
“We pledged to create a wild area in our garden, where we have a small pond, bug houses, bird boxes.
"Our next step so to sow our wild flower seeds to attract bees and birds.
"Finally, we hope to grow our own fruit, vegetable and herbs on a small piece of grass Gentoo have allowed us to adopt.
“Our next three missions are operation flower power, where we will make biodegradable native wild flower seed bombs and throw them all around on the school run in hope that they will grow, Operation Poo in the Loo where the children will create eye-catching posters to encourage dog owners to pick up after their dogs, and Operation Compost Not Lost.
"A few of the children have worked as a team to turn three tyres into a compost bin to really reduce the amount of waste going to landfill in plastic bags.
“Everyone can take a small step toward helping nature, whether it’s planting one packet of seeds in a pot, having one bird feeder or leaving a bit of grass uncut.
“Every household or organisation should make a pledge to My Wild Sunderland.
"Many hands make light work, and fixing our environment is a big task.
"We can’t continue with the amount of litter we have, destroying habitats and lack of natural food for all creatures great and small.
“So let’s work together, make a pledge whether it’s to plant nectar rich flowers or feed wild birds.
"You don’t need to have green fingers, mountains of money or lots of spare time, just make one change to help the world around us. It’s our responsibility to help our eco system thrive.”
Kirsty Pollard, education officer with the trust, said: “Through the My Wild Sunderland project we hope people throughout Sunderland can come together to give wildlife a voice, ensuring it has a firm place in the region’s future.
"As Sunderland’s local Wildlife Trust we are keen to work in greater partnerships with local Councillors, MPs, businesses and, of course, local communities to create a Sunderland where wildlife and people can thrive together.
"Please join us in pledging your support to for our local wildlife”
People can pledge their support to Wild Sunderland via https://durhamwt.com/mywildsunderland/.