Mucking in to make a difference

COMMUNITY-SPIRITED volunteers from Heart of England Mencap have been doing their bit to keep Stratford tidy thanks to a link-up with town litter-picking organisation Rubbish Friends.

A team of customers from Heart of England Mencap, supporting local people with learning disabilities, grabbed their grabbers and took to Stratford’s Tramway on Tuesday (August 7th) clearing up a mountain of bottles, cans and general litter as part of a wider programme of volunteering undertaken by the charity across the district.

“Teaming up with Rubbish Friends has been a great experience for our customers,” said Suzanne Hotten, Enterprise Manager at Heart of England Mencap.

“Not only did we have a great time, but it also allowed us to contribute in a really positive way to the community – and we cleared up so much rubbish to make the Tramway a nicer place for everyone who uses it.

“Projects like this are a great way for our customers to give something back and provide a great stepping stone into further volunteering and even work placements.”

Becky Reynolds is the founder of Rubbish Friends, which has gone from strength-to-strength since its inception – not just here in Stratford.

Thanks to the power of social media, the internet and word of mouth the organisation now has satellite groups in 15 locations across the country, including Redditch, Coventry and Swindon.
Rubbish Friends tackles the issue of litter by educating young people and community groups through a series of litter-picks and talks in schools and at community groups.

Becky was delighted to have the support of Heart of England Mencap.

She said: “The team from Mencap have done a wonderful job clearing up so much litter from the Tramway.

“Support like this makes such a difference to us and will help us on our mission to not only clear our towns and villages of rubbish, but to educate people to stop littering in the first place and keep our communities free of rubbish.”

Heart of England Mencap customers volunteer in a huge variety of places locally – from Mary Arden’s Farm to the Heart of England Forest. As well as acting a stepping stone into volunteer or paid employment, it also helps them to meet new people, learn new skills, increase confidence and self-esteem, make a difference and be a bigger part of their local community, and to feel happier and healthier.

Photo: Making a difference – Heart of England Mencap Volunteer Placement co-ordinator Christine Aynsley, customers Sandra Simmons, Nicky Blinkhorne and Brian Steele and HofE Mencap Enterprise Manager Suzanne Hotten with just some of their litter haul from Stratford Tramway.