A Kidderminster teacher's simple new year resolution to pick up a bag of litter a day while walking her dogs has ballooned into a wonderful example of community togetherness in action.
Michelle Medler said she was shocked but inspired at the way her initiative to clean up Kidderminster had been taken up by dozens of people.
Since the start of January, she has created a 400-strong Facebook group and initiated around 10 communal litter-picks in areas around the town, including Sutton Farm, Clensmore, Sion Hill, Birmingham Road, Marlpool and Horsefair, picking up more than 80 binbags of discarded wrappers, bottles and cans.
She has won plaudits from councillors and council officers as well as other residents who have praised her initiative.
In this short video, Michelle and other volunteers, including some of the younger activists, talk about the project and share their message for other residents.
"It's been really really positive," said Michelle, who works in Birmingham at the city's South and City College.
"So many people have joined in. All I originally suggested was that people spent a few minutes a week picking up the litter outside their house or on a walk but it's really taken off. Now I've got lots of ideas; I'd love to see it take off in Stourport and Bewdley as well and there are other things we can do too to reduce the amount of litter, especially plastic."
Youngsters and retired pensioners have been among the groups that have gone out into the community.
Wyre Forest District Council, which has street cleaning responsibilities, praised Michelle and the community activists who've joined her efforts. They have organised regular litter collections and supplied the volunteers with litter pickers, high-viz jackets, hooped rubbish bags and gloves, as well as advice about safely disposing of dangerous items they come across.
In a press release earlier this week, the district's Cabinet Member for Operational Services Councillor Rebecca Vale said: “It is truly remarkable to hear about the positive impact these volunteers have had and I’d like to thank every one of them. We spend a lot of time, effort and money cleaning our streets – this just goes to show what a huge difference we can make to the look and feel of the district by working together.
“The members of this Facebook group have shown commitment by giving their time and putting in a huge effort both individually and collectively to keeping the district safe, clean and looking good and we will continue to support them as well as welcome any similar initiatives from any other groups in the district.”
The group’s next target is to help coordinate a major litter pick as part of the Keep Britain Tidy charity’s Big Spring Clean, taking place March 4-8. Join Michelle’s Facebook group, or check out what your community can do by visiting the Keep Britain Tidy website.