Today we did some volunteering for Keep Wales Tidy. We went down to the beach to do a litter pick and met up with some like-minded people.
Keep Wales Tidy are funded by Welsh Government and the Welsh European Funding Office, which is the same pool of money that pays for Engagement/Traineeships and Apprenticeships in Wales. Nearly £2 billion has been given to Wales from the European Union to support economic growth and jobs through research and innovation, business finance, ICT and Transport connectivity, energy, and helping people into work and training.
Keep Wales Tidy are actively involved in education, community action and supporting local government (e.g. Swansea Council). Their aim is to target litter and the other things that spoil our environment too, like graffiti, fly-tipping, vandalism and pollution. The intended outcome is
“to create an environment that’s enjoyed by all – where everyone shares responsibility and everyone takes advantage of the world that’s on their doorstep.” – http://www.keepwalestidy.org/aboutus
This week is Clean Coast Week, one of many events organised by Keep Wales Tidy. It was also sponsored by McDonald’s.
We met at the 360 Beach and Watersports centre at Swansea Bay at 10.30 am. There was already quite a crowd of people there which surprised me. Keep Wales Tidy and McDonald’s staff were there; members of the public and various other local groups such as Discovery from Swansea University and another training provider A4E.
We were given equipment to help us do the beach litter-pick, such as plastic bags with clip on hoops, litter-picking grabbing sticks (fun to use!) and hi-vis jackets. We were also given a Health and Safety briefing which told us what items we were likely to find and how to deal with hypodermic needles if we found one. This particular item could be dangerous due to the risk of serious infection (HIV, hepatitis) or a painful puncture wound so we were advised to only tackle it if we felt willing and capable. We obviously must not touch the needle! The lead officer explained that we could use a plastic bottle with some sand to place the needle into, and to use the litter grabbing stick to bend the needle to make it safer. I was surprised to find out that these needles are so easy to bend! More sand and the bottle lid would make the needle safe to discard, but the lead officer also had a “sharps box” if we were close to him. Luckily we did not find any needles 🙂
We spent a good hour and a half on the beach picking up rubbish. I was surprised that the beach was already quite clean! We did find quite a lot of broken glass, mostly smoothed down by the waves and pebbles, but also some sharper bits. Small bits of plastic from bottle tops to straws and a few sweets wrappers. Metal tops from drinks bottles were also found. Between our group of 5 we only managed to find about half a refuse bag full so that goes to show how clean the beach was already, which is really good news!
The weather was beautiful down there today, wall-to-wall sunshine and not at all windy. We did a lot of steps which I tracked with my Fitbit 🙂
So all in all, we helped the local community and wildlife with our cleaning efforts and got some nice exercise and fresh air in the process 🙂