Litter Pick at Falcon Wood

A small team of Riverside Community Big Local volunteers spent Sunday morning picking litter from the piece of land along Bridge Road known as Falconwood.

Working with local residents and organisations the Big Local plans to create a Pocket Park on this previously un-cared for land.

As part of these plans the Big Local thinned out some of the dead and dangerous trees and started to level off the land. The levelling off revealed a large amount of rubbish that had been buried for many years.

In all volunteers collected 24 sacks of cans, bottles and other rubbish – as well as a number of larger items of rubbish.

Chair of the Riverside Community Big Local, Andy Blakey, said;

“Falconwood is a hidden gem and we plan to work with residents to make it a really pleasant place for people to enjoy. It time, we will look to put some appropriate seating and other amenities but – for now – the efforts of volunteers on Sunday has made to the area that bit nicer to look at and walk through.

“Thanks to Steve, Anton, Jacqueline and John for giving their time and to Thurrock Council for disposing of the rubbish collected.”

Orchard Forum cleaning alleys

Volunteers from the Orchards Community Forum were out again on Saturday morning tidying up alleyways around the Grove Road area, in Grays.

Chair of the Orchards Forum, Tina Holland, said; 

“18 months ago it would have taken many people half a day to clear these alleyways. Now we managed to tidy them in a couple of hours – we know they are far from perfect but the improvement is clear to see.

“We really can’t allow these alleyways to fall back into the state they were last year. That’s why we will continue spend a couple of hours, once a month, to make sure we keep on top of them.”

Details of alley cleans can be found on the Orchards Forum Facebook page.

Chair of the Riverside Community Big Local, Andy Blakey, said;

“I want to thank Tina and all the Orchards Forum volunteers for their hard work in keeping these alleys as clear as possible. They really are making a difference to their local community. Thanks as well to Thurrock Council for helping by disposing of the rubbish collected.

BeacherCombers cleaning up Grays Beach

On Sunday morning, around 20, Grays Beachcomber volunteers spent a couple of hours in the sun collecting waste plastic and other rubbish from along the river front in Grays.

They collected 26 sacks of rubbish which included over 220 single use plastic bottles that would otherwise have been washed back into the Thames.

This Sunday, they also collected a number of empty drinks cans that will be used to help create an art installation known as a “Mandala,” as part of this year’s T100 festival.

After the volunteers finished their hard work they were treated to a well deserved bacon sandwich and a drink at the Lightship Cafe – the cafe in Grays Beach Park.

Chair of the Riverside Community Big Local, Andy Blakey, said;

“Around the world eight million tonnes of waste plastic make their way into our seas and rivers. Those plastics break down and end up being consumed by fish – much of which we eat.

“The work of the Grays Beachcombers is one small way of raising the profile of this issue as well as helping improve our local environment. I want to thank every one of them for their hard work and the Riverside Community Big Local is pleased to make sure they all get something to eat and drink afterwards.”

The Grays Beachcombers meet on the first Sunday of the month, 10.30 outside Thurrock Yacht Club.

Trees for the Community

Many plants were donated to the Neil Ruch memorial space at Hogg Lane Ambulance Station and some people had kindly donated trees which would unfortunately grow too large for the available space.

When we were planting up the new garden area, I noticed that there were several birch trees in a number of pots which I suggested would not be suitable for the raised beds. I then spotted a young horse chestnut which could grow up to 75’ and even an oak tree which could reach over 100’.

These obviously would not be suitable to grow amidst the lavender and buddleia which we were planting to give paramedics a peaceful and relaxing space to use whilst at work.

This story has a happy ending, the ambulance station have kindly donated the trees to ‘Green up Grays’, a Riverside Community project and they were collected by RCBL board member Jim Graham who also works on ‘Friends of Elm Road Open Space’ and they will be planted with permission of Thurrock Council.

Next clean up at Grays Beach Sunday 8th November 10:30

Dolly is bagging another bottle. Even Storm Francis couldn’t dampen her enthusiasm last Tuesday.

Dolly is 6 years old and is very keen to clear up the rubbish around the Thames as she has learnt about it at school. 

She loved the day with all of the volunteers, making friends with everyone. Her big sister said her favourite find was the “wand” which was actually a weird looking fork haha!

Together with a little help from the other volunteers, Dolly filled 31 sacks including 223 single use plastic bottles.

Steve Catchpole said “I am looking forward to seeing Dolly and all the other volunteers at a future event very soon.”

Future events:

Saturday 26th September – Friends of North Thames Estuary – meeting at the Tilbury Fort, Tilbury RM18 7NR – 10:30 to 13:30. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves, face mask and sturdy walking shoes, please bring them. We will be walking at least 3 miles collecting river rubbish along the foreshore – Limited facilities available – 8 places available.

Sunday 4th October – Friends of Grays Beachcombers – meeting at Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays RM17 6JF at 10:30 until 12:00. Foreshore tidy. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves and face mask please also bring along sanitising hand wash. – Limited facilities are available – FULLY BOOKED.

Sunday 8th November – Friends of Grays Beachcombers – meeting at Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays RM17 6JF at 10:30 until 12:00. Foreshore tidy. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves and face mask please also bring along sanitising hand wash. – Limited facilities are available – Only 6 places available. Please note the alternative date.

Sunday 6th December – Friends of Grays Beachcombers – meeting at Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays RM17 6JF at 10:30 until 12:00. Foreshore tidy. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves and face mask please also bring along sanitising hand wash. – Limited facilities are available – 14 places available.

During these strange times pre-booking is critical. Do not attend unless I have confirmed your places.

To book a place please email Steve Catchpole at Litterpickingsteve@outlook.com

Over 10,000 plastic bottles removed already this year

We have already picked 10,000 plastic bottles along the estuary this year. This is the first time we have picked so many bottles in less than a 3 month period… more proof that what we are doing is really important.

Following DP World London Gateway’s decision to stop any external meetings by their employees, their involvement in the litter picking event on Wednesday has reluctantly been withdrawn.

On Wednesday Jamie from the RSPB will be holding an event starting at 10:00am at the Visitor Centre. So rather than run two events I suggest we all support the RSPB event. They will be picking along the foreshore lower path and on the reed beds.

Please contact the RSPB if you plan to attend so they can ensure the right amount of equipment etc. Hope you can join us on Wednesday, I will bring the good weather!

Currently Thurrock has no known cases of the virus, but to reduce the risk of contamination may I suggest you bring your own gloves and you ensure you wash your hands before and after the event. Also consider the 2 metre distance where possible during the event.

Wednesday 18th March – meeting at RSPB Rainham Marshes Centre in Purfleet RM19 1SZ at 10:00. This is an RSPB organised and run event. Please make sure you register your interest with the RSPB before attending on 01708 899851.

Other events are currently continuing as planned, if this changes I will advise.

Wednesday 25th March – meeting at old St Clements Church RM20 4AL at 10:30 to 13:30. We will be picking along the Graffiti Wall. This event will include up to 4 miles walking so comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event and forms part of the Great British Spring Clean.

Wednesday 1st April – meeting at St. Margaret’s Avenue SS17 0SH to pick Mucking Creek at 10:30 to 13:30. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event and forms part of the Great British Spring Clean.

Sunday 5th April – meeting at Grays Yacht Club RM17 6JF at 10:30 to 12:00 followed by free refreshments in the café. Grays Beachcombers is a monthly Thames21 River Action Group family friendly event suitable for accompanied children 6 years and older. On this occasion it forms part of the Great British Spring Clean.

Wednesday 22nd April – as part of Earth Day 2020 we will be meeting at Grays Thurrock Yacht Club RM17 6JF at 10:30 to 12:30. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event in partnership with Tilbury Green Power Station employees.

50 bags of Rubbish from Grays Beach

Another massive haul at Grays Beach on Sunday morning where 28 of us picked up 50 sacks of rubbish including 247 plastic bottles and 2 bags of plastic gems for use in a mandala to be constructed in Grays in July by Kinetika during this years T100. (More details to follow nearer the time.)

Upcoming Events

Thursday 5th March – meeting at Purfleet Railway Station RM19 1PP at 10:30 to 12:30. We will be picking primarily plastic bottles on the other side of the seawall and bringing them back to the road for collection. This event will include climbing fixed ladders over the 2m high seawall so comfortable walking shoes/boots are essential. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event. 

Friday 6th March – meeting at RSPB Rainham Marshes Centre in Purfleet RM19 1SZ at 10:00 to 13:00. This is a Plastic Pollution – Seashore Guardian Beach organised and run event. Please make sure you register your interest with the RSPB before attending. 01708 899851 or rainham.marshes@rspb.org.uk .

Friday 13th March – meeting at old St Clements Church RM20 4AL at 10:00 to 14:00. We will be picking along to the QE2 Bridge with Coca Cola employees. This event will include up to 4 miles walking so comfortable walking shoes/boots are essential. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event. 

Saturday 14th March – meeting in John Street RM17 6ED at 09:00 to 12:00. This is the regular Orchard Forum back alley clean-up. All welcome especially local residents.

Wednesday 18th March – DP World Event – meeting at RSPB Rainham Marshes Centre in Purfleet RM19 1SZ at 10:00 to 15:30. Like last year DP World employees are going to us, this time at the RSPB centre. Feel free to pop along for just some of the event.

Wednesday 25th March – meeting at old St Clements Church RM20 4AL at 10:30 to 13:30. We will be picking along the Graffiti Wall. This event will include up to 4 miles walking so comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event and forms part of the Great British Spring Clean. 

Wednesday 1st April – meeting at St. Margaret’s Avenue SS17 0SH to pick Mucking Creek at 10:30 to 13:30. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event and forms part of the Great British Spring Clean.

Sunday 5th April – meeting at Grays Yacht Club RM17 6JF at 10:30 to 12:00 followed by free refreshments in the café. Grays Beachcombers is a monthly Thames21 River Action Group family friendly event suitable for accompanied children 6 years and older. On this occasion it forms part of the Great British Spring Clean.

Wednesday 22nd April – as part of Earth Day 2020 we will be meeting at Grays Thurrock Yacht Club RM17 6JF at 10:30 to 12:30. This is an adult only Thames21 River Action Group event in partnership with Tilbury Green Power Station employees

Kara and Creative Generations

The pilot programme run with Thameside Primary School and Frederick Andrews Court sheltered housing complex.

Kara took part in our Thurrock Social Entrepreneurship Programme, and Thurrock Soup. She later joined the London based  Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme in October 2019.

Loneliness and isolation in the UK doesn’t just affect the ageing population. According to the Office for National Statistics, 1 in 10 children also experience loneliness. Kara’s work as an artist and tutor in her local community helped her to discover that inter-generational interactions and creativity can help the well-being of both children and older people. “Probably from my own isolation and from seeing that in my grandparents, I knew I wanted to help people to feel less alone,” Kara reflects.

Kara set up Creative Generations to bring her idea to life, using her skills and passion for all things creative. The social enterprise offers art workshops for children and the older community to help them to see past their differences, connect through story-telling and creativity, and feel more valued in their communities as a result.

Kara was taking part in the Thurrock Social Entrepreneurship Programme when she decided to present her idea by pitching at Thurrock Soup, which gives local people an opportunity to win some start-up money. The idea of Creative Generations caught everyone’s imagination and Kara won the cash on the evening and went on to successfully be awarded a grant from the UnLtd fund. 

Sheltered housing residents and school children in Thurrock have been taking part in intergenerational workshops with Creative Generations to boost their connections within the community.  The intergenerational scheme was initially piloted in June 2019 with students from Thameside Primary School and residents at Frederick Andrews Court in Grays. Since then, Corringham’s Bellmaine Avenue Sheltered Housing residents and children from Corringham Primary School have also benefited from the workshops.

Residents at Vigerons Way Sheltered Housing complex, Grays, have spent an hour each week for the past month with students from Herringham Primary Academy working together and exploring a range of topics using art techniques such as drawing and collages. At the end of each session, the children and residents present what they have made and learnt to the rest of the class.

So far, two groups of school children at Herringham Primary Academy have benefited from the schemes at Vigerons Way. A number of children who took part in the workshops before Christmas recently visited residents with their parents to enjoy a special afternoon tea.

Cllr Barry Johnson, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “It’s fantastic to see older and younger members of our community being creative together and discovering what they have in common. The techniques used in these workshops not only make outstanding artwork, but helps the children in their learning and storytelling.

“The afternoon tea was another lovely idea and really highlighted to the parents the great work that the children and sheltered housing residents have been doing together, as well as see the connections formed.”

Margaret Cullwick, a resident at Vigerons Way Sheltered Housing, said: “I’ve really enjoyed the sessions with the little ones and it’s been really good fun. The children always ask lots of questions, particularly about the differences between when we were at school compared to their school life today.”

Nine-year-old Maddie Davis from Herringham Primary Academy, added: “The best part of the week was leaving school to go see Betty and draw together.”

Kara Thompson, artist and tutor at Creative Generations, said: “Giving the children and older adults this unique space to talk and learn together has been incredibly successful. We see their confidence and skills grow with every workshop, plus across the ages they build a sense of connection and appreciation with their local community. You only have to hear the excitable chatter at the workshops to understand that bringing these age groups together is of huge value to both children and older adults.”

Residents at Vigerons Way Sheltered Housing complex, Grays, with students from Herringham Primary Academy PLus of Course Kara

Dates for litter picks

Following on from a great pick around the small carpark at the Rainham RSPB centre, I’m pleased to advise our next event is at the Graffiti Wall in West Thurrock on 25th January, details below.If you have not taken a look at the graffiti wall paintings before, why not come along and have a look at them.

Saturday 25th January – meeting at old St Clements Church RM20 4AL at 10:30 to 13:30. We will be picking along the Graffiti Wall. This is a family friendly event suitable for accompanied children 8 years and older. This event will include up to 3 miles walking so comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended. This is a river based Badged Thames21 event.

Sunday 2nd February – meeting at Grays Yacht Club RM17 6JF at 10:30 to 12:00 followed by free refreshments in the café. This is the Grays Beachcombers regular monthly pick. This is a family friendly event suitable for accompanied children 6 years and older and is a river based Badged Thames21 event

Saturday 8th February – meeting in Salisbury Road RM17 6DQ at 09:00 to 12:00. This is the regular Orchard Forum back alley clean-up. All welcome especially local residents.

Saturday 8th February – meeting at RSPB Rainham Marshes Centre in Purfleet RM19 1SZ at 10:15 to 12:30. This is an RSPB organised and run event. Please make sure you register your interest with the RSPB before attending. 01708 899851 or rainham.marshes@rspb.org.uk This event will especially suit young (and us older) Eco Warriors! Parents don’t forget to bring the binoculars.

Wednesday 12th February – meeting at the Wharf Hotel, Wharf Road South, RM17 5YX at 10:30 to 13:00. We will be picking rubbish from along the foreshore. This adult only event will include up to 2 miles walking so comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended.

Saturday 22nd February – meeting at the Riverside Carpark at the Concrete Barges Rainham, RM13 9YQ at 10:30 to 13:30. We will be picking rubbish from along the foreshore and the reed beds. This is a family friendly event suitable for accompanied children 8 years and older. This is a river based Badged Thames21 event.

Sunday 1st March – meeting at Grays Yacht Club RM17 6JF at 10:30 to 12:00 followed by free refreshments in the café. This is the Grays Beachcombers regular monthly pick. This is a family friendly event suitable for accompanied children 6 years and older and is a river based Badged Thames21 event.