‘Big Society’ volunteers get stuck in!

Volunteer John Garnham, Coun Adrian Hutton and James Baker of the Blackpool Community Action Team at the launch of the Clifton Community Volunteers Club
Volunteer John Garnham, Coun Adrian Hutton and James Baker of the Blackpool Community Action Team at the launch of the Clifton Community Volunteers Club
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The first residents to sign up to a new incentive-driven volunteering scheme have already started making a difference to their neighbourhood.

Ten people came forward in the first hour of the Clifton Community Volunteers Club with many more expected to sign up.

We are sick of Mereside looking like a tip

The initiative is the brainchild of Clifton ward councillors Luke Taylor and Adrian Hutton in a bid to plug the gap left by budget cuts.

Among the first volunteers were Julie Jackson, 38, and her sons Damian, 16, and James, 14, of Branstree Road, Mereside, who were litter-picking.

Julie said: “We’ve been fully briefed on what we are doing and already feel we are making a difference.

“We are sick of Mereside looking like a tip and we wanted to give something back.”

Also signing up were John Garnham of Cherry Tree Road, along with Suzanne Sutcliffe and her son Daryl of Lindbeck Road.

John said: “I think the residents of Blackpool do need to be more proactive in keeping the area tidy.

“If places look nice then hopefully people will treat them better.”

The scheme, which currently just covers Clifton ward, will hand out rewards including tickets to resort attractions in return for people giving up their time.

Each participant will receive a volunteering passport and once they have completed four volunteering sessions they will be eligible for an award.

The Blackpool Community Action Team supervised the first day of work to clean up the BMX track, derelict tennis courts and open space on Bowness Avenue, Mereside.

Community development officer James Baker said: “Today we are working with the council’s parks department who have brought down tools and staff.

“We have done a briefing and talked through with the volunteers what we hope to achieve, and there is on the job training throughout the day.

“We are cutting back undergrowth, collecting grass that has been cut and litter picking.

“If we can clear this area, we are hoping it will provide the opportunity of bringing some new play equipment in and we can get it back to what it was meant to be used for.”

Businesses including Tesco, Blackpool Tower, the Sandcastle, the Zoo and Fanatical Fitness are among those which have signed up to support the scheme.

Coun Hutton said; “We’ve got off to a good start and, while it’s a shame more people don’t get involved in their communities, we are doing what we can.”

The council has had £25m slashed from its budget this year, and £631,000 has been lost from the parks budget over the last three years.