Following a year where organised events were restricted because of the Coronavirus pandemic our litter pick group had last organised a group event back in March and since then have gone out in bubbles, encouraging independent actions by making available our equipment on the sea front. Naturally we were chomping at the bit to get out with others again and so planned five events over three weeks to do litter and land clearance once the lockdown lifted. Sadly we then had to cancel some of these events due to high winds and then this weekend because of an increase of the pandemic and the maximum six people rule.
Still we did manage to celebrate our 7th year anniversary with a huge land clearance at South Gare on the 4th September and a controlled event of six men on the 20th to help raise awareness of the men’s mental health group ‘Walk N Talk’ on the along the Redcar Riviera seafront.
FRED were due to host their 6th: Great British Beach Clean event at Majuba beach recording all the litter found as part of a national drive to lobby government regarding environment, recycling, packaging, process and legislation. We had also planned to carry out their 2nd annual ‘Nurdle hunt’ for families, providing education regarding the micro-plastics found at Redcar and on the majority of beaches around the world.
However, new rules around Covid-19 with a maximum limit of six people being allowed to meet meant logistically, to remain lawful and safe, would have been too difficult for an event expected to gather up to and over a hundred volunteers.
We arranged this year’s event over three weeks in September to encircle the South Gare from Warrenby to the Teesmouth and back up along the beach to Majuba in Redcar. We did manage to clear some significant fly tipping, in total five wagon loads a fortnight ago and had to scale back last weekend with high winds being forecast but still managed an improv event with a handful of volunteers still turning up at the South Gare fishing huts.
Last weekend we cancelled our South Gare litter pick but this still turned into a productive effort. We cancelled because the weather report was of high winds and at the Gare this can be potentially dangerous. Just in case anyone missed the message, me and Leah drove down and ended up spending two hours down there. Thankfully, although windy, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the forecast suggested and 4 other residents (two from Guisborough) did arrive. Thank you to them. We ended up with a van full of fly tipped waste including a mattress, window frame, barrels, many bags of litter and a lawnmower. Thanks too to RCBC who joined us in a box van, collected up many more of our rubbish bags and led us to offload at Warrenby waste management site.
This weekend to comply with the pandemic rules we sadly had no choice but to cancel the organised events in association with Marine Conservation Society but encouraged friends and families to still come to the beach, remain within their own bubbles and to help themselves to our litter picking equipment. We were very pleased to receive images from those who did just that.
As part of the events we had organised a three mile walk from the South Gare to Majuba in association with the Walk n Talk men’s mental health group and decided we could manage this with a maximum number of six.
We were joined by a Cleveland Land Services tractor and trailer organised by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and took off from the green fishing huts at 9:30am Sunday morning and walked along the Redcar Riviera arriving with a full trailer at Majuba Car Park just over three hours later at 12:45pm. It was a misty and wet walk but with warm company it brightened up as the six of us pushed through to collect as much of the waste materials we found on the way.
Along the way we cleaned up floatsom of all kinds including fishing equipment including ropes and lines, crates and barrels and lobster pots. There was a lot of plastic in a variety of forms such as balloons, bags, wrapping, plastic bottles and sanitary items. We also found lots of tyres, BBQ’s and masonry and bricks.
Walk n Talk have been running since February 2020 and is organised by Gareth Howell who has done a fantastic job bringing awareness to isolation, depression and suicide with men who can find it difficult to express emotions. Walking together and talking with someone in a safe sociable setting is key to supporting these issues which are more common than realised. I myself find litter picking is very good therapy, escape from heavy workloads and a great way to meet new people and to bring people together.
I applaud the work Gareth is doing and would recommend this group to anyone who might be feeling lost and vulnerable or simply lonely and would like to meet and chat with others and hopefully improve the quality of their life.
Thank you to, Gary Hogan, Ryan Durnall, Ian Cuthbert, John Watters and Gareth Howell for joining me yesterday to support our environment and home and for bringing attention and support to men not used to talking about their mental health issues.
Thank you also to all those who came out this weekend and have joined us or litter picked in their own groups throughout the year, often quietly picking up litter for the love of their home towns.
Friends of Redcar and the Walk n Talk groups are both found on fb and for more information please contact me at FriendsofRedcar@gmail.com and/or Gareth Howell at email@example.com