Festive volunteering

Volunteers from several local groups turned up to help out at Pymmes Park in Edmonton
Volunteers from several local groups turned up to help out at Pymmes Park in Edmonton

Carole Stanley on how a pre-Christmas litter pick helped spread joy at Pymmes Park

I was saddened to read recently that the Friends of Pymmes Park had only three regular volunteers and were “feeling overwhelmed”.

As a park volunteer myself, I know how this can feel and I wanted to do something to show them that they are appreciated. One of the most dispiriting things of looking after a park is litter, so I came up with the idea of organising a surprise litter pick. Within days I had promises of help from a number of organisations including Bountagu Big Local, Enfield Climate Action Forum,

The Enfield Society, other ‘friends of’ parks groups, two residents’ associations, and two students from Kingsmead School who are doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award!

It was on a chilly Saturday two weeks before Christmas that 35 volunteers turned up at the park. Jenny, Sumishta and Suzanne from the friends group couldn’t believe it. “Oh, what a lovely thing to do, I am overwhelmed,” Jenny said, beaming. “This is the best Christmas present I could ask for.”

She added:“It doesn’t happen very often but I am lost for words. Thank you everyone from the bottom of our hearts.”

The volunteers headed for the woodland areas and boundaries of the park, where litter is known to gather. In less than an hour, they had collected a total of 28 sacks full of litter. I asked some of the people who gave up their Saturday lunchtime what made them decide to help. John, a school governor who lives in Edmonton, said: “This is a lovely gesture. Many parks struggle to get help so I hope this raises Pymmes Park’s profile.

“People assume it’s too much of a commitment to volunteer, but an hour here and there can help considerably.”

Alyssa and Daniel from Kingsmead School think that many teenagers are concerned about the environment but don’t know what they can do to help. Daniel said: “Our family have been part of Bush Hill Park’s litter picks since they started. I hope that by coming here today local people see that they can help to improve their environment too.”

I was also pleased that local councillor Ergin Erbil was able to support the event as well. He said: “I was delighted to join the surprise litter pick in Pymmes Park. We must do all we can to keep our parks clean and green.

“The event was attended by residents from all over the borough and there was a great sense of overwhelming support and solidarity. I am grateful to the Friends of Bush Hill Park for organising this important event.”

Find out more about Friends of Pymmes Park:
Visit friendsofpymmespark.wixsite.com/fopp