What could be more off-putting? Wind, rain, hangovers and litter picking, all first thing on a Saturday morning. However, Chester University students are not your typical kind of students. The Students Union on Parkgate campus was packed to the rafters with over 120 volunteering students, sabbatical officers and even the local councillor for the Garden Quarter Bob Rudd. The large group of volunteers were split up into 10 groups and provided with an area of Chester, with particular focus to the Garden Quarter, for which they had to clean-up.
Prior to the day of the clean-up, staff members of the Students’ Union canvassed the Garden Quarter with leaflets explaining what we were doing and that we had volunteers who could come pick up and dispose of any rubbish large or small in the skip on Parkgate campus. The responses we got back from the local community were fantastic, items from Wii Boards to Chest of Draws were asked to be collected and binned all free of charge. Vice President for Activities at Chester Students’ Union expressed how proud he was of the students present, he said “What a fantastic turn out for a brilliant community building event, I am very proud to be representing such pro-active and enthusiastic students.”
Everyone present had a really enjoyable time mingling inside the students Union whilst the clean-up equipment was being handed out, I’m sure this was because of the bitter cold weather outside. Finally, with a large skip hired, gloves, street maps, rubbish bags provided and litter pickers at the ready the armada of enthusiastic people were off, some groups as far away as the moorings on the riverside.
Volunteers were encouraged to engage with local residents which was very well received, volunteers even got some twitter coverage from a resident and a passing police officer. Aside from engaging with the local community volunteers had the opportunity to socialise in groups they wouldn’t normally have had the chance to, this will only add to their student experience at Chester University with some new friendships forged.
Personally as part of the media team I got to hang out with the Hockey teams and we collected the most random array of litter, from car wheels and alarms, to an umbrella and a pile of shoes the streets of our local area kept on surprising us. One student who was part of the Hockey team said “It was nice to help the community whilst having fun with our team mates too. We have never had such a good team bonding event, a great laugh whilst also helping clean up our beautiful city.” Whilst another student who rows for the University said “We did a great job and overall it was satisfying to team-build and clean up Chester.
It was especially nice to clean up the area that we train in. We felt better after giving back to the community that we live in whilst at University.”
It was also great to see local councillor for the Garden Quarter Bob Rudd present, who helped obtain Litter pickers and other supplies for the event. Bob said that “it was fantastic to see so many students who regularly attend community held events, give back to the community that they are residents in.” He added that “Students make up a large part of the community in Chester and it’s vital that they engage with local residents so that Chester is maintained as a fantastic place to live. Well done to all those involved.”
Keep the conversation going by commenting your most random find during the clean-up. Whether it was an obscure rubbish discovery or conversations with local residents we want to hear what your experience was like during the event. We really look forward to the next clean up opportunity and hope this post has inspired you to positively impact your local community more.