I have probably scarcely been more full of praise for the hard work and dedication of a band of 10 people who have been supporting EMS Yorkshire’s tidy-up of Hull’s Southcoates East Ward this summer.
As a charity, it is our responsibility to look after the neighbourhood management of the Preston Road Estate and, for August, we came up with a plan for 31 Days Cleaner. This was to clean up the streets, play areas and open spaces of this Estate and tackle the constant litter problems.
Through the Council’s Park Area Team, I was put in touch with the Community Task Force run by Hull Council for Voluntary Service (CVS). This is a group of young unemployed who have been out of work for six months and who join the programme for 13 weeks to tackle jobs in the community. They receive an additional £15 on top of their Jobseeker’s Allowance payment for putting in a 30-hour week. They also have access to courses and references in return. Their commitment was 100% and they tackled every job with no complaints. Some travelled a long way to be here – as far afield as Market Weighton to fulfil their Task Force duties – citing a common reason to escape the four walls of their homes, do something constructive with their day and build-up the confidence that can easily be sapped with unemployment.
There were three weeks of litter-picking and I am sure they must have been disheartened to see the litter returning. Their biggest challenge was to clear what turned out to be 2.5 tons of fly-tipped rubbish on Clare Grove. Everything came out of this narrow strip of common land – discarded tyres, a vacuum cleaner, deep fat fryer, old carpet, televisions and, yes, even a cuddly toy. The Task Force cleared this area in a day and gave everyone who took part a real sense of achievement, even if this fly-tipping should not have been allowed to build up. I suppose we should not have to rely on this labour to clear the problems in our urban estates, but it has proved highly cost-effective this time.
After a year of contributing to improving Hull, I understand this initiative will be finishing at the end of September and I pay tribute to the work of the team in the hope that more funding can be found for them.
So Southcoates East is a much cleaner Ward as a result of a summer of hard graft. I would also like to thank the Lifestyle team from Hessle who helped weed the community garden EMS is planning near the Freedom Centre. We will be thanking everyone who has responded to community initiatives in the area with a celebration night in October. It will be another occasion when I will think back on a summer of hard work by a few people for the benefit of so many.
Andy Rees, Neighbourhood Manager, EMS Yorkshire Ltd.