Is a litter pick simply that?

by | Jul 16, 2020 | News

“Just write a blog!” Janet from Social Progress said. “About the litter pick.”

What shall I write? What should I say? Who will want to read about that? Then I started thinking about it and realised that the litter pick means so much more to me than going around the village once a month to pick up rubbish.

My name is June McLean and I own Zebra in the centre of Honley. I’ve owned the shop from 2008, and that year we had a Christmas Light Switch On. It was held in the car park by Westgate. There were so few working lights that, even craning one’s neck to peer up and down Westgate, it could be called pitiful at best.

We needed to do something to make sure Honley was not the poor relation to Holmfiirth. After all, we’d raised £3k that year; obviously it wasn’t spent on our decorations!

We needed our businesses to get together to focus on making Honley great. The idea of forming a Honley Business Association (HBA) was muted by Brenda, who ran the post office until 2013. Remember Brenda? She was a forthright, straight talking woman with a passion for the village.

It was also her idea to set up a Community Facebook page so we could connect our community and residents. Our small business group set about organising the next Christmas Lights Switch, and through the power of social media we were joined by around 40 volunteers. It was such a step up from the year before that we realised we were heading in the right direction.

Things have carried on growing in the HBA. Today, we have more than 130 business members and  250 volunteers who help to keep our community safe, clean and pleasant. They’re also the people who put the village back together after our major village events, which regularly attract up to 4,000 people.

Believe it or not, the first litter pick was advertised in June 2016. Yes, 4 years ago! Where does time go?

Volunteers litter picking

HBA was 3 years old and we were encouraging our village groups to liaise with one another and work together for our common cause – to benefit the village. Flower baskets throughout the village were paid for by the businesses, and we were raising funds to try to get effective CCTV in the village.

 

At the time, we seemed to be in the middle of an uncharacteristic crime spree, with 6 break-ins in 6 months. We wanted to take back our village and make it a place where everyone felt safe, both day and night. The businesses were on board, but we wanted the Honley community to feel the same. We needed to shout out that we loved our village and we would not let a few ruin it for the many.

At that first litter pick there stood Sylvia and I, nervously wondering if anyone would turn up. We shouldn’t have worried! More than 30 people arrived and after 2 hours there was a rather large pile of full bin bags awaiting collection by Kirklees.

As time has gone by we started calling ourselves “The Friends Of Honley” as that is who we are. Now, we not only litter pick but we paint street furniture, stain benches, weed the streets, look after Honley Park and plant the various tubs, tyres and planters. We also liaise with Kirklees and work alongside them to showcase what they are doing on our Facebook page, Honley Community. Our community is kept in the loop with what is happening in the village, so that we can all feel part of the whole.

By fostering a good relationship with Kirklees – keeping in touch over a brew and thanking them for their efforts – means they are listening to what our community wants and will work with us to improve our village, including the great display of flowers outside the park and the car park each year. It’s nice to get positive recognition and something I am sure our council appreciate. As do our volunteers who usually receive a host of thanks and appreciative comments when we talk about their amazing efforts on our Honley Community Facebook page, which is great to see for all the people taking part.

Over the years people have come along to volunteer when they can and there is a mass of warm greetings when we all get together. Just to see everyone working towards a common goal makes people feel good and involved. When you are walking around the village, many a time, you see someone you know to say hi to and stop for a chat. I believe it’s true to say we look out for one another and care about each other, here in Honley.

All this makes me think: Is it just a litter pick? I don’t think so. I look on it as part of the soul of our community, making each and every one of us be proud that we are a Honleyer.

 

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