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Hemlington litter pickers clean up

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A photo of people litterpicking in Hemlington

A group of committed community litter pickers is still going strong despite the upheavals caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team gathered at Hemlington Recreation Centre on Friday to enjoy the blazing sunshine and have a catch-up.

Then it was down to the serious business of making the whole area spick and span again.

The Friends of Hemlington was set up by the Parkway Centre in 2017 after an initial meeting with local ward Councillor Jeanette Walker and then Councillor Nicky Walker.

Soon the group was meeting every four weeks, with support from local businesses and organisations including the Fire Brigade, Tesco and  Marton Co-op Funeral Care.

High-vis waistcoats, litter pickers, bags and gloves have all been provided with funding from the Parkway Centre.

The Passionate About Hemlington Facebook group has since acted as a focal point for the group, helping to attract new community volunteers such as regulars Janet Hoggett and Mavis Vidamour and passing on the latest news.

Middlesbrough Council's Area Care team drop by to collect the litter, and there's always a cuppa waiting for the volunteers when they get back to the Rec.

Cllr Jeanette Walker said: "Cuts to services over recent years meant there was no longer routine litter picking of areas away from main roads.

"But we've got lots of willing and able volunteers who really want to make a difference to the local area, and with the support of the Parkway Centre we've never looked back."

Nicky Walker added: "Group events like this have been all but impossible over the last 16 months, and many of us have been shielding, but we're still up and running and raring to go whatever the weather.

"It's a great way to give something back, and we're already looking at extending our litter picks to the whole of Hemlington and not just the Lake."

Parkway Centre Manager Zoe France said: "Supporting the local community is really important to me, so setting up the litter pick back in 2017 seemed like the right thing to do, giving something back and also appreciating the wonderful spaces on our doorsteps.

"It's a great opportunity to get out and meet people and getting to understand what's important to our shoppers and locals.

"That enables us to diversify and look at other community projects we could implement to make a difference -  we have a great team of volunteers who never cease to amaze me and I'm so thankful for their support."

To find out more about the Hemlington litter picking group, visit the Passionate About Hemlington Facebook page or email Cllr Walker at Jeanette_Walker@middlesbrough.gov.uk

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