Community unites for litter pick near Sheffield school

Kyla from Oasis Academy Watermead during a litter pick on a footpath near the school following concerns from residents. Picture: Andrew Roe.
Kyla from Oasis Academy Watermead during a litter pick on a footpath near the school following concerns from residents. Picture: Andrew Roe.
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Okay, I admit it - I've dropped litter.

There I said it, and it might seem a ludicrous thing to say on a story about a litter pick but the sooner we all start admitting we do it, the better.

The Star's Sam Cooper on the litter pick. Picture: Andrew Roe.

The Star's Sam Cooper on the litter pick. Picture: Andrew Roe.

And if the amount of empty crisp packets, chocolate wrappers and cans on the footpath near Oasis Academy Watermead is anything to go by, plenty of us do drop litter.

We were contacted by frustrated resident Steve Murfitt, who lives near the school, who said no-one seemed to care about the problem and that the path was quickly becoming an eyesore.

But rather than just run a story with Steve's telling pictures of the mess, we gathered everyone together - youngsters at the school, ourselves, Amey, who are in charge of our streets on behalf of Sheffield Council, and Steve - for a clean-up.

We donned our hi-viz jackets, picked up our grabbers and carried out a blitz on the footpath which is used as a shortcut from Herries Road to Barrie Crescent.

Students and staff from Oasis Academy Watermead during a litter pick on a footpath near the school following concerns from residents. Picture: Andrew Roe.

Students and staff from Oasis Academy Watermead during a litter pick on a footpath near the school following concerns from residents. Picture: Andrew Roe.

A group of seven pupils from Year Three to Year Five were taught about the importance of not dropping litter in the classroom before joining the clean-up, which the Star organised as part of our Clean Up Sheffield campaign.

Crisp packets, chocolate wrappers, cans and cigarette butts were scattered across the path and in the hedges on either side and judging by the number of plastic forks collected the nearby fish and chip shop must be doing a roaring trade.

During the litter pick, a number of people walk past the footpath all with a similar message - 'You've got a new full-time job there' but towards the end of our clean-up, it was rewarding to hear people say we'd made a difference.

While I'll cut short of saying that picking litter for an hour was a pleasure, it was pleasing to hear children speaking among themselves about the dangers of litter and how much of a mess it looked.

Between us, and with the help and support of Amey's mascot Phil the Bin, we collected 17 bags of rubbish as well as a the not so pleasant job of clearing up dog mess from the path.

If that's the amount we, as a group of seven children and five adults were able to collect in just an hour, imagine what could be done if we all just gave a little bit of our time to help look after where we live.

There was one loser on the day though - the school's site manager Tim Shaw failed miserably in his battle to collect more litter than the pupils - meaning biscuits all round for the youngsters.

Speaking after the litter pick, Steve said: "It was definitely the right thing to do to get everyone together and clean it up. It's a great example of everyone pulling together and it was great to see how enthusiastic the kids were."

School principal Lynne Goodhand principal said: "We were pleased to work in partnership with our community to clear this public footpath of litter.

"We appreciate the opportunity to be able to work with local residents in order to improve the path for all users. Our children are taught about how to keep our environment tidy and litter free. They are very proud of our academy and don’t like to see litter being thrown near to our school.

"This has been an ongoing issue, which our academy pupil council have raised in the past. They are keen to share their concerns with those who don’t follow our high expectations

"The public footpath provides a convenient shortcut to local shops and other local schools, which is used by many throughout the day. We therefore need to encourage everyone using the path to support us in keeping it litter free.

"In an endeavour to enhance the area further, we have successfully obtained a grant to develop the adjacent land in order to create a community orchard area. This will then become an area which can be enjoyed by our pupils and the community in the future."