Keynsham's 'Womble Watch' is coming to a street near you!
Published on: 06 Jan 2015
It’s been a year to remember for the Wombles, Keynsham’s ever-growing band of litter-pickers. With volunteers out in full force at the town’s main events – Keynsham Music Festival in the summer and the Winter Festival – as well as regularly clearing their own patches and tackling rubbish hotspots their impact has been felt. Then there was the nod from the South West In Bloom judges, who awarded the group ‘Thriving’ status. Now they have won funding from Keynsham Town Council to put up ‘Womble Watch’ signs around the town. We caught up with Chief Womble Erica Davies to find out more about the initiative.
What is the aim of installing the signs?
We want others who live in Keynsham to know that we are out there week in week out picking up litter and caring for our community and we hope that the signs will be a visible illustration of this. I think that sometimes people drop litter because they think no one cares – hopefully this will show that we do.
You now have around 80 volunteers, have been involved in the town’s main events and won “Thriving” status in Keynsham in Bloom – how has the past year been as the founder of the project?
I am amazed at how enthusiastic everyone is about the Wombles project and how many people are willing to help, it really feels like a truly community-wide project. We now have litter-pickers from four to 84 years of age, Churches Together running assemblies on litter awareness in local schools, local companies and clubs wanting to work with us, support from Keynsham Town Council and B&NES and a “sister” group in Saltford – I hadn’t expected Wombles to build community spirit, but it turns out to be one of the most important elements of what we do.
Do you feel you are making a difference in Keynsham since the launch of the Wombles?
We first launched Wombles at the Music Festival in 2012 with just me and one other volunteer and our network has grown steadily from there. I am thrilled with the number of compliments we receive from members of the public commenting on our work – and this is all down to our wonderful volunteers.
I believe that seeing others picking up litter changes the way people think, whether they are less likely to drop litter in the first place, or to feel more comfortable picking up the odd crisp packet themselves! However, I’m aware we have a long way to go and that litter is still a major issue in our community.
What are your plans for 2015?
To continue building our group of regular litter-pickers – this will always be the core of what we do. But in addition to that, we would like to work more closely with our local schools on litter awareness and organise more of our “Big Womble” events where we join together to litter pick an area of particular need in our community.
We are also beginning to work on a new idea, thinking about what it might mean for Keynsham to become a “litter-free town” – we are only at the beginning of working out what this might mean, but imagine it will involve working across all areas of our society, including local shops, churches, other clubs and societies, as well as with the police and politicians. I look forward to reporting back on our progress this time next year!
- If anyone would like to join in and help with any of our projects, please do get in touch. We can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone on 07713 417974 or via our Keynsham Wombles Facebook page.