Meet the people giving up their weekends to Keep Roath Tidy!
Each Saturday morning a group of around 30 humble volunteers gather next to their very own community planter on Albany Road at the junction with Donald Street. They call themselves Keep Roath Tidy and each week for over two years now, they have been running weekly litter picks in a bid to tackle the areas litter problem. This week, I decided to join them.
When I arrived for the meet, I was instantly struck by the infectious enthusiasm within the group. It was clear that each individual really did want to be there, and there was a real sense of community that made it easy for a first-timer like me to get involved.
We then paired off and got to work, tactically divvying up the streets of Roath.
My partner, Laura, explained to me that she decided to get involved with Keep Roath Tidy after her canine companion swallowed a large piece of litter, leading to a serious trip to the vet. She loved it so much that she is now on the committee.
It is estimated that each year local councils in the UK spend £1 billion on cleaning up litter alone. For these group of individuals, enough was enough, they took matters into their own hands.
It was a great feeling to be able to look back after each street and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment at the new clean state. You could physically see the difference you were making. Having a partner also made the process feel much more comfortable knowing you weren’t alone in your hopes for clean streets.
Keep Roath Tidy’s volunteers have collected over 1500 bags of rubbish between them over the last two years. In November, their efforts were rewarded with the ‘Cleaner Communities Award’ for 2017 by Keep Wales Tidy.
The group is run by a committee chaired by Jennifer Jones. Jennifer hails from Vancouver Island on the West Coast of Canada, but has made Roath her home for more than a decade now.
As the rest of the group celebrate the years picking with a game of skittles at a local pub, she explains the groups humble beginnings to me, “I listened to neighbours complaining about rubbish blowing down the street, and I said ‘well why don’t you come out with me’, and they did, and everyone had a good time doing it.
“It is a pleasure to be around people so full of optimism. They’re not people that sit there and do nothing or complain online, this group really wants to make change happen.”
One of the regular pickers, Mandy, tells me that “there is such a strong sense of community here, and it is it nice to be part of a group that is practically getting things done.”
Jennifer says “we’ve been to the theatre a couple of times together, we’re going to an ice hockey game and a rugby game next year, really fun stuff. Which is just a really nice opportunity to be social and spend time doing something nice, and to have your efforts rewarded. It is much better than just sitting on the sofa!”
It was also great to see so many young people involved in the project. Jenny tells me that the group uses the programme as a mentoring experience for the younger volunteers. “We like to talk to them about what their hopes ambitions are and what is going on in their lives, so we’ve had quite a lot of interesting contact with young people.”
The next ambition for Keep Roath Tidy is ‘Clean Up, Green Up’, an initiative for beautifying houses through the use of window boxes. Jennifer says she came up with the idea whilst building one for her elderly neighbour.
If you would like to know more about Keep Roath Tidy and how you might be able to get involved, check them out on Facebook at Keep Roath Tidy and on Twitter @KeepRoathTidy