These bags – full of litter – make James proud

RESIDENTS have been busy sprucing up Wokingham town centre, and just in time for the shops to reopen.

Last Wednesday, a whole host of litter picking warriors took to the streets, armed with bin bags and hi-vis jackets, in a bid to show the high street some love.

They were all members of ‘Adopt A Street, Wokingham’, a group of more than 400 residents who coordinate regular clean-ups across the borough.

James Baston, organiser of last week’s town centre clean-up, says he was inspired to make the streets sparkle before people return to the shops this month.

“People are soon going to start coming back to the town centre when covid restrictions lift,” he says. “We wanted to make sure it looks nice for everyone, and they don’t turn up to see a load of litter.”

To adhere to covid restrictions, litter pickers were partnered up and each given a section of the town centre to attend to.

And accompanying the team was Wokingham town mayor, Cllr Tony Lack, who volunteered to take the bin bags away himself at the end of the day.

“When I told Tony about cleaning the town centre, he wanted to get involved straight away,” James says. “It’s often hard to figure out what to do with all the rubbish bags, so it would have been hard to make this happen without his support.”

Cllr Lack, former organiser of Wokingham Litter Heroes, said he took part because wanted to help keep the town a “pleasant, clean place to visit”.

“While it’s great that volunteers pick up the rubbish, it can be a burden for them to dispose of it,” he said. “I can stop my vehicle at the Market Place so to help everyone, I picked up everything that was collected – a completely full van – and disposed of it in the council’s skip.”

Now, James is hoping he can inspire even more people to pick up a bin bag and do some tidying of their own.

He says he started litter picking after being placed on furlough and quickly found a passion for it.

“It makes you feel so proud,” he says. “The next time you walk down the street and don’t see any litter gives you this amazing sense of pride.

“You really feel like a part of Wokingham, and that makes you want to make a difference even more.”

He said attending regular clean-ups has also helped him stay connected during the pandemic.

“There’s another level of pride, knowing we did it as a team,” James adds. “At last week’s litter pick, I was partnered with someone I’d never met before so you get to meet new people in the community too.”

To find out more about ‘Adopt A Street, Wokingham’, search for the group on Facebook.

Residents can also apply for litter picking supplies for free through Wokingham Borough Council’s website: www.wokingham.gov.uk/rubbish-and-recycling/bins-and-litter/volunteer-to-help-clean-your-street 

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