According to the 2011 census, the East London Borough of Newham has the youngest population in the country. So, it’s appropriate that the Cyprus Litter Pickers in Beckton should seek both to enlist and educate local school pupils and university students.
The Cyprus Litter Pickers have been meeting outside the Cyprus DLR station in Beckton on the first Wednesday of every month since October 2011. The group is made up of local residents, regular volunteers from CleanupUK, students from the University of East London (UEL), whose campus site is next to the station and school children from the Winsor Primary School, which also borders the railway.
CleanupUK have been a major force in getting the group up and running, canvassing residents, handling publicity and contacting Newham Council to secure their support and involvement. Litter regularly accumulates amongst the unkempt prickly undergrowth and shrubbery in the area immediately outside the station, but the group has done a fantastic job removing over 220 bags of rubbish in the last twelve months.
But as with all of CleanupUK’s work, this is not just about improving the look of the environment, it’s about getting people together and building stronger community networks. Local resident Flora Brugnoli says, “It’s great to be doing something for my community. And meeting new neighbours has been really nice. I personally have collected about 50 bags of rubbish over the year. It’s definitely worth doing. It gets the residents out.
It is also about empowering people to make a difference to the area they live in. As part of the legacy from the 2012 Olympics, Newham Council has made some improvements to the area, including planting flowerbeds in front of the station but the Cyprus Litter Pickers are fighting for further changes. They want a permanent solution to transform the station environment and are canvassing Newham Council to remove all the scruffy shrubbery.
They are also proactively encouraging more of the local youth to get involved, promoting CleanupUK’s philosophy to the large number of students from UEL. Hopefully this will result in a new generation of environmental campaigners and anti-litter activists.