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Stroud Wombles: Town’s litter-pickers driven by ‘community spirit’

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A new litter-picking group has sprung into action in Stroud following a social media trend.

Groups of “Wombles'” have popped up all over the UK as thousands of public-spirited citizens have enrolled in an unofficial army of litter pickers.

Named after the famous Wombles from the 1960s children’s TV series, the groups have become a force for rubbish good, battling with the tide of rubbish and fly-tippers.

Liz Bruksgard, from Stroud’s Five Valleys Wombles, explains the concept behind the new and much-needed phenomenon.

Liz writes

Litter is an increasingly big problem, it is antisocial, it affects how people feel about where they live and the general mood of the place. That’s before we even consider the impact on our beloved pets and the wildlife that shares our gardens and wild spaces.

Stroud and its surrounding area have an abundance of wildlife and are blessed with some of the most picturesque locations in the county. Many people enjoy them but don’t seem to enjoy carrying their litter, including bagged dog waste, home.

The Five Valleys Wombles have been running for around six months now and there are more than 450 members. There is also a satellite group in Eastington.

Five valleys Wombles (l-r) Liz Bruksgard, Karin Ayres and Jo Bandle at Minchinhampton Common. Picture: Carl Hewlett/Hewlett Photography & Design
Five valleys Wombles (l-r) Liz Bruksgard, Karin Ayres and Jo Bandle at Minchinhampton Common. Picture: Carl Hewlett/Hewlett Photography & Design

They were set up to tackle litter, so that living in and visiting the area is not spoiled for the grateful many, by the selfish few.

The group is of course named after the original furry, long-snouted creatures, of the 1970s Wimbledon Common fame.

On any given weekday or weekend, you will see us, clambering up grassy slopes, or in and around hedgerows, with our litter pickers, or Womble Sticks, as we prefer to call them. 

You can see us Wombles even seen in less rural locations. We’re making streets more sanitary and keeping the community tidy. We peer into the hard-to-reach places, where the more careless in society throw their bottles and cans.

Some Wombles have been combining litter blitzing with a lock-down family walk so that the ‘mini Wombles’ can join in and learn not to become adult litterbugs.

Helen Latham and Sylvia May completed a 50-hour-long sponsored litter-pick of roadsides, laybys and fly tips raising over £600 for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

Wombles take a very positive approach to litter and refuse to moan and berate, preferring the swift action and ‘can-do’ attitude, which keeps things changing for the better.

We’re are about promoting the online links, which have always been available to members of the public, on the SDC website. Links for reporting fly-tipping, dog mess, overflowing waste bins, and graffiti.

The joy of Wombling is, that anyone can join in.  There are no expectations within the group to fill lots of black bin bags. Even a poo bag containing an old lolly stick or a can might save an animal’s life. 

If picking up other people’s rubbish isn’t for you, start reporting things that you see to the council.

Is there an area that is persistently treated like a community wheelie bin? Then send a message to the Wombles via their Facebook page, so that they can give advice or assist in tidying.

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