Community is key
Over the weeks of lockdown I’ve been speaking to Plymouth volunteer group Clean Our Patch.
Started up as a litter picking initiative two years ago by El Clarke and Ashleigh Samuels, they’ve adapted their services during coronavirus to help people with food and essentials, collecting and distributing parcels to key-workers or people in need.
Working together with other local organisations and receiving donations from the public and councillors, El Clarke explains:
“As we are unable to do our normal group litter picks we have converted to collecting and distributing food parcels and hampers to key workers. We feel that although we cannot help as we normally would we have a duty to do what we can for those in need.”
“We will help anyone that is in need, many people are struggling at the moment and the use of food banks to help feed families and individuals has seen a dramatic rise.”
“We are really thankful to be in a position to be able to help others. Having been in situations personally where we have had to rely on the food bank we understand how hard it can be and we believe that everyone has a right to food so we are helping provide that.”
Coronavirus pandemic has created additional problems in society. During the initial six weeks of shutdown UK government advised ‘Stay At Home’ in order to prevent saturation of the NHS.
Keyworkers exempt, most of the population were unable to leave home unless for one form of exercise per day or to collect food or medicine.
People experiencing virus symptoms must self-isolate and many individuals are shielding, completely avoiding contact with anyone if in the risk-group with underlying health issues or elderly then the likelihood of the disease becoming potentially fatal viral pneumonia is high.
Even as lockdown eases, people shielding may still need community interaction and assistance especially if living alone.
Clean Our Patch consists of teams of volunteers headed by thirty-two ambassadors in several areas of Plymouth. Pre Covid, the teams participate in monthly litter picks and have collected over 11000 bags of litter across the city, over 100 tonnes.
During lockdown, the community volunteers say they’ve noticed a ‘huge amount of plastic gloves and masks being discarded’ and a 300% rise in fly tipping across the city.
See photos from Clean Our Patch below or Return to Diaries
Clean Our Patch volunteers shopping for necessities
Clean Our Patch rubbish collections pre Covid-19 restrictions
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