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What a load of rubbish!

What a load of rubbish!


Charity Choice's own Jenny Ramage wanted to become more involved in volunteering, and decided to get involved in a litter action charity to help make her local neighbourhood a cleaner, safer place to live. Find out more about her experience here. 


A lot of things changed when I hit 30. I quit smoking. I started eating less and moving around more. I found I wanted to spend more time outdoors, and less time languishing under my duvet. I also started feeling the urge to give something back to my community.

I moved to Bow, in East London, just before my 30th birthday, and as I got to know the area better I began to notice that it had a character like nowhere else I’d ever lived or visited. I realised then that this was a thing to be nurtured. Having already decided I wanted to volunteer, it was a natural step for me to do so locally, in an area I had fallen in love with.

I found out about CleanupUK through the website. CleanupUK is a charity dedicated to tackling the UK’s litter problem by helping and encouraging volunteer groups to form and literally clean up the areas they live in. The charity supplies volunteers with all the equipment and support they need in organising litter picking activities, including rubbish bag removal.

I was appointed a ‘community champion’ for the charity, looking after my borough, Tower Hamlets. It involves going along to residents’ association meetings in the area to discuss the project and identify any litter problems in their particular area. I then help them recruit volunteers from their community and organise their own clean-ups.

People are generally keen to get on board, and it’s a great feeling when people react and engage with you in a positive way, although it’s not without its challenges. Sometimes residents, particularly those from the more run-down housing estates, feel disillusioned, disenfranchised and unwilling to devote time to help clean up their local area. This is a good opportunity for me to explain the wider benefits of keeping your community clean: when residents are given the tools to create more pleasant surroundings for themselves, not only is it empowering, it also helps to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour and helps residents to feel part of a safer, more neighbourly community. It puts the message across to the next generation of citizens that littering is a negative behaviour and that, with a little bit of effort, we can stop litter from being dropped in the first place.

I’ve had some great results from the meetings I’ve attended, and regularly take part myself in the litter picks. It’s fantastic to see the results ‘on the ground’, and there is always a really positive atmosphere – people get to know each other and enjoy being outdoors in the fresh air making a real difference to where they live. So far my team has organised 30 litter picks, engaging over 500 residents who between them have completed a total of 718 man hours of litter picking and filled 489 bags of rubbish!

The role of ‘community champion’ has been great for me as someone who enjoys meeting other people and who likes seeing quick and positive results – not only people cleaning up their neighbourhood but also bringing their community together.


Get involved!

If you would like to know about cleanups in your area or would like help in organising cleanups yourself, visit the CleanupUK website

Want to try out another kind of volunteering? Put your details on our volunteering board and let charities find you!