Sheffield’s litter heroes - community groups giving up their time to clean the city’s streets

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's editor Nancy Fielder for a litter pick
Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's editor Nancy Fielder for a litter pick
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These are just a handful of community heroes in Sheffield that give up their time on a regular basis to keep the city’s streets clean.

Selfless volunteers from across the city pounding the streets in all weathers to pick up beer cans, pizza boxes and much more left by mindless litter louts.

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

Sheffield has 78 volunteer groups who scour their community armed with a grabber and a black sack cleaning parks, pavements and footpaths on a regular basis.

One of these groups volunteer at St Mary’s church on Bramall Lane.

The group were joined by The Star Editor Nancy Fielder, who took time out to help volunteers on their litter-picking rounds around Highfield.

Sam Nettleship of Abbeydale Road has been coming to St Mary’s for over a year.

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's Editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's Editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

He started attending after developing depression and wanted to get involved in the community and to meet new people. He cites the centre as a huge help in improving his well-being and activities like litter-picking is one of them.

“It’s helped me because before I came, I was a little bit depressed,” Sam said.

“I found out about this place and came down here and once I got going and made a real go of it, it totally improved my life for the better. It got me up in a morning and it’s given me loads of motivation.”

Sam now runs the litter-picking sessions. The group that trawl the streets scooping up other people’s mess, can range from six to 17 people on a good day.

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's Editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's Editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

The 52-year-old said every person in the group brings back at least two full bags of rubbish after two hours.

“It boosts your confidence and self-esteem doing something so simple as going out and doing a litter-pick. It’s a little community where everybody is welcome.

“We go out picking, do a couple of hours, see what we can clear, and you have a chat and a good laugh while your doing it. We come back and we’ve all had a good time.

“The people really appreciate what you’re doing, I think some of people come out and thank us because they might be a bit embarrassed their street is a bit messy. Others are extremely grateful to what we do.”

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

Volunteers at St Mary's church on Bramall Lane are joined by The Star's editor Nancy Fielder on a litter pick

The 52-year-old said beer and fizzy drinks cans as the most common item he comes across on the floor along with black bags with litter in thrown onto the floor.

“We get all sorts really, we go away from Shoreham Street, Bramall Lane and Edmund Road if we get bored we go a bit further out into Sharrow places like that.

Sam said the group have found some unusual things.

“One of our members found a winning scratch card - but it was only for £1 - we had a good laugh about that.

“But we’ve ended up coming across condoms, broken glass, which we don’t pick up and we’ve had nappies.

“People should take care of what they do with their rubbish - it would make Sheffield a better place.”

School children take time out to help pick litter on Stradbrook Road

School children take time out to help pick litter on Stradbrook Road

James Starkey is the development officer at St Mary’s church. He sees at first hand the benefits the volunteers get some something as simple as litter-picking in a group.

“You don’t have to be highly skilled or a really sociable person to get involved in something like litter-picking.

“It’s great fun, you can work as a team and it’s so uplifting knowing you’re actively benefiting the community and your own well-being.”

The development officer said most of the volunteers are part of the Timebuilders scheme. For every hour of volunteering they do earn credits to spend on a hot meal which they eat together.

Amey education officer Millie Guthrie is in touch with lots of the volunteer groups across Sheffield.

“At first it was generally middle class, ladies of a certain age who would organise and go out but that definitely not the case anymore.

“But these are from every type of demographic that you could possibly imagine in Sheffield and they pick on a regular basis and with real commitment to their communities

“What this also does is it gets people together in the areas and brings them together.

“The people who take part in these groups are the real unsung heroes and they do an amazing job.”

St Mary’s church and community centre are looking for volunteers. Contact James on 0114 223 0223

Litter pickers in Heeley

Litter pickers in Heeley

Litter pickers on Firs Hill Road

Litter pickers on Firs Hill Road

Litter pickers on City Road

Litter pickers on City Road