As work gets underway in Sunderland city centre to clean up the streets, Echo reporter Kevin Clark went along to find out more and get his hands dirty. Here is how he got involved.
What better way to show our backing for a deep clean of the city centre - and give our Clean Streets campaign a boost - than to pop down and help out?
Due to a misunderstanding, however, the council know I’m coming down for the photocall, but aren’t expecting me to be pitching in just yet, so there are no overalls waiting for me.
Photographer Stu Norton soon has me posing for the obligatory brush and buckets shot, before it’s into the back alley between Olive Street and Derwent Street for the litter pick.
Then comes the bit I’ve been looking forward to - getting to use the pressure washer to scour the pavement.
It’s like a super-duper version of the ones you can getting for cleaning the car and patio at home, only this one is so powerful, it comes in its own van.
A quick word of instruction (basically, ‘Hold it down ‘cos it’s got a kick’) and I’m off.
And it’s great - the dirt dissolves in front of my eyes, transforming the grey of the pavement to restore the original colour of the stones in seconds.
It genuinely feels really rewarding to see the accumulated grime of years disappear in front of you and it’s actually quite therapeutic.
There is something deeply satisfying about watching the soapy black water swirl away down the drain, leaving a pristine clean surface behind.
In fact, I get into it a little too much and by the time I finish, I’m covered in a fine mist of grey/brown sludge from the waist down.
It’s a good job the new suit is machine-washable.
•The Echo’s Clean Streets campaign was launched at the end of 2017 in a bid to smarten up Sunderland. It is backed by Sunderland City Council and members of the public. Find out more about it here.