Dead rats, bags of needles, human waste, kitchen stools and a washing up bowl with sick inside were just some of gruesome things June Waite and Julie Gay, of Sheffield Litter Pickers, cleared up alongside years worth of packaging that was piled up in shrubbery.
June, from Dore, decided to tackle the rubbish and flytipping on John Street which is within a conservation area just outside of the city centre, after being alerted to the appalling state of it by a post on the Sheffield Litter Pickers Facebook group.
At first she was told by locals that it was “not worth bothering” and “nobody cares” but after going every weekend since January and picking up about 150 bags of rubbish and shifting tonnes of fly tipping, they proved naysayers wrong and transformed the street.
As well as removing trash, they took out the bushes that were effectively being used as bins and replaced them with gardens.
After months of hard work they are now looking to step back and let the community carry on caring for it.
June said: “We have now arrived where Julia saying ‘we are nearly done, I’m going to stand back’ but the upshot of it is, because we go every week, we have engaged with the local people and businesses…
“I’m not going to give up on it, I just want to finish this gardening bit and then even if I’m just picking litter up and keeping an eye on it, that’s what I will continue to do.
“The local people I’m hoping will continue to keep things tidy, not necessarily because I’ve bullied them into it but because they have appreciated it. We have never made anyone feel guilty about the state of the car parks or flower beds or anything else, it’s about engagement because it’s not their fault that other people throw their rubbish there.
“I’m thrilled with the change in the place but there are places in Sheffield far worse than that where people can’t get to the bottom of it and make a difference.
“It is a social problem and it is across the whole of Sheffield, it’s not just that little bit that I look after.”
She said they wear pink hi-vis jackets when litter picking and locals have come to talk to them and offer cups of tea and support while they worked.
There are many places across the city in a similar state to what John Street was that are being tackled by Sheffield Litter Pickers, a community group of more than 3,000 volunteers who spend many hours collecting hundreds of bags worth of rubbish every week.
June said: “If you want a feel good factor and to feel useful and part of a community then Sheffield Litter Pickers is definitely it.”
She said after taking on John Street, she will be looking for another challenge.