Devon

Plymouth children spend school holidays litter-picking

Children from the litter picking group sit on a wall
Image caption Children from across the city of all ages have been litter picking throughout the six-week summer holiday

Almost 700 bags of rubbish have been collected by a group of children and parents targeting litter in Plymouth.

Clean Our Patch was set up by El Clarke and Ashton Samuels who said they thought nobody was being proactive in cleaning up the city.

The children are rewarded with treats including days at the seaside, picnics and barbecues.

Plymouth City Council and local councillors have provided equipment and collection of the bags of rubbish.

Image caption The group have removed 700 bags of rubbish from the streets of Plymouth

Three-year-old Caleb, from Keyham, has "collected around seven or eight bags of rubbish by himself," his mum, Tracey Cooke, said.

"He loves going, he's got a smaller litter picker that he uses, but usually helps others by spotting the rubbish."

Founder Ms Clarke said she thought there was "a huge litter problem in Plymouth" which she believed came from "a mix of social and economic issues".

She said: "I think that part of the inspiration was wanting to live in a cleaner environment. We all know the devastation litter is having on the environment.

Image caption The council works with the group to collect the rubbish

"We wanted to encourage community spirit and set an example to people around us so that we could create a cleaner, safer environment for ourselves and the next generation."

Eight-year-old William Reeby joined the group because he wanted to prevent rubbish from ending up in the sea, potentially causing animals to suffer.

His mother, Caroline Reeby, said the family was told about the litter picking group after complaining to local councillors about the amount of rubbish on their street.

Ms Clarke said: "I call them my litter pirates. We arrange family days at the beach to say thank you for everyone's efforts.

Image caption People of all ages have been clearing fly-tipping spots in the group sessions

"We had one child who had never been to the beach before, so the fun activities encourage them to come back and do more litter picking."

A Plymouth City Council spokesman said: "We always welcome people to help us in the fight against litter, particularly community organisations, and it's especially nice to see young people taking such pride in where they live.

"We are committed to making Plymouth a clean and green city and do what we can with the resources we've got to keep our streets tidy.

"Unfortunately, there is a small minority of people who drop litter and fail to take the same pride in their city as groups like Clean our Patch do.

"If people or groups tell us in advance about the dates of their clean ups we can arrange for rubbish to be disposed of and in a lot of cases, recycled."

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