A major clean-up operation in a key Middlesbrough area received an unexpected helping hand this week.
When local residents turned out to give North Ormesby's back alleys a makeover, they were joined by 50 volunteers from Texas.
The project - supported by Middlesbrough Council and housing provider Thirteen - is part of Mayor Andy Preston's town-wide clean-up taking place across the week.
The team's efforts were boosted by the group from Texas who were in town to work on a range of community schemes across the area, helping to improve the local environment for residents while gaining experience of practical environmental projects.
Lyndsey Coe, Thirteen's senior neighbourhood development manager, said: "We have been working with students from the scheme for some time now through the Serve Teesside Project.
"While visiting, they get involved in various community projects across our area and we really appreciate their help - we can always make a bigger impact when there are more people involved!
"The project helps the volunteers get experience of a different environment and obviously helps us to have a bigger impact for residents.
"As well as the group, we also had staff from teams across Thirteen helping out, alongside our clean sweep vehicle which made a big difference to the final finish to the area."
The initiative is being championed by North Ormesby ward Councillor Ashley Waters who was inspired by a similar revamp undertaken by local resident Frances Graham.
Frances helped transform the alley between Stainton Street and Allinson Street in North Ormesby, leaving it spotless and given a splash of colour with tubs, shrubs and plants.
And the makeover has proven so popular, it's inspiring similar schemes across the ward and further afield.
Cllr Waters said: "We've already seen how alleys can be transformed into a wonderful shared facility, and that's something we want to build on, not just in North Ormesby, but across the town.
"It's all about the local community taking ownership of their alleys with our support, cleaning and painting them where possible, and adding benches and planters to create new assets for the whole community."
As part of the initiative, Middlesbrough Council has agreed to a trial replacement of communal bins with wheelie bins, to make the back alleys both more attractive and safer for children.
Cllr Waters added: "This is what community pride and spirit are all about, and that's something we can really build on.
"I felt genuinely honoured that our visitors from Texas came and gave up some of their holiday just to help improve our area - what a fantastic group of people and with amazing can-do attitudes to match!
"A massive thank you also needs to be given to Lyndsey Coe of the Thirteen Group for pulling all of this together too - she has done a wonderful job!
"This is just the start, but these guys have helped us lay a massive foundation in improving the area.
"The aim is to roll this out to as many alleys as possible, with a champion on each street to take ownership and report back with any issues and problems."
Anyone who takes part (make sure you let us know!) will be entered into a prize draw to win a family ticket to our popular attraction, Newham Grange Farm.
Volunteers can share before and after pictures of their good work via Middlesbrough Council's Facebook and Twitter accounts using the hashtag #CleanUpBoro, or by emailing snaps to firstname.lastname@example.org.