Trust Thamesmead staff pulled on their wellies and gloves on Wednesday, to take part in a Thamesmead clean-up led by environment charity Thames21.
The 1.5 hour event began with a talk from Thames21's Thamesmead River Keeper Solomon Small who spoke about how and why the environment charity got involved in Thamesmead. Commissioned by Gallions Housing Association, Thames21 were brought in to engage with residents, community groups, schools, traders and corporate companies to promote the importance of a clean and tidy canal-way. Solomon said: “There is no obligation from local government to remove rubbish from canals but as a charity we think clean canals are important both aesthetically and for wildlife.”
The weight of rubbish which included a traffic cone and a bag full of plates that Trust staff collected from the footpaths either side of the canal in Thamesmead Town Centre weighed 0.130 tons; that is the equivalent of 21 stone! “That is a lot of rubbish,” said Trust Thamesmead's Marketing and Communications Officer Julia Hickson. “If everyone took responsibility for their own rubbish, the place would not only look nicer but be a safer place for wildlife and humans alike.”
There is 7km of canal-way in Thamesmead, with beautiful foot paths leading along them that are popular with walkers, cyclists and school groups. A huge area which attracts much wildlife; in Thamesmead Town Centre alone you will regularly spot herons, swans; both black and white-the later of the two who have just had signets, coots, Canadian geese and large fish.
Trust Thamesmead, as part of National Volunteer Week are encouraging Thamesmead residents to join them in the next canal clean-up that is planned 12:00-3:00pm on Tuesday 1 June. Julia added: “This time we are hoping to get our feet wet; not literally but we are hoping to actually go into the canal to collect any rubbish that is ingrained at the bottom.”
Trust Thamesmead's Head of Community Development said David Stone: “There is a direct correlation between the level of volunteering and community well being. Thamesmead does not have a dedicated volunteer worker and while there are many community groups that benefit from voluntary action, we are aware of a large unmet demand for volunteering opportunities. At the same time there are so many things that could be done to improve the quality of life in Thamesmead like improving our public open space, keeping the canal's free from rubbish, removing unsightly graffiti and promoting community safety.
“As the leading community development agency for Thamesmead, Trust Thamesmead wants to work with local residents to promote volunteering as a way of reconnecting with our communities.”
Also taking place during National Volunteers Week: Meet Volunteers Centre Greenwich and Volunteers Centre Bexley at Trust Thamesmead's office to find out more about different volunteering opportunities open to you, 10:00am-1:00pm, 19a Joyce Dawson Way, Thamesmead, SE28 8RA.