East Ham suffers from high unemployment, an above average crime rate and is one of the worst areas for child poverty in the country. But it just takes a few proactive and public-spirited people – with a bit of help from CleanupUK – to make a real difference to the community.

Around the corner from East Ham tube station and the bustling high street, is the monthly meeting point for a small group of local residents who call themselves the East Ham Litter Pickers. The group consists of four dedicated residents supported by CleanupUK’s own volunteers and between them they have managed to pick up a remarkable 140 bags of litter in just three months.

The East Ham Litter Pickers came into existence thanks to social networking. Local businessman Path Prabha left comments on the community networking website, StreetLife, expressing his desire to do something about the drink cans, plastic bottles and discarded takeaway food cartons and wrappers that blighted the streets around his home.

Susan Masters, CleanupUK’s Ambassador in Newham, saw his comments and we got in touch to help. CleanupUK were instrumental in helping Mr. Prabha to set up the group and provided all the litter picking materials as well as ongoing support.
Mr. Prabha’s enthusiasm is infectious – not only does he take part in the East Ham Litter Pickers’ monthly cleanups, but he takes it upon himself to do a solo weekly litter pick as well. He says that this commitment is helping his neighbours to

“have a better understanding of the area around them and their community.”

He believes that the East Ham Litter Pickers can help influence public opinion in the area and help local residents to recognise the importance of keeping their surroundings litter-free. Local MP, Stephen Timms, says, 

“ I am delighted that this group is doing such an impressive job of cleaning up the neighbourhood. It’s when people care about issues and are willing to do something about them that change for the better becomes possible. I applaud their constant hard work.”

According to Mr. Prabha, 

“the challenge is to make local residents understand the concept behind what we are doing. I feel joy and fulfillment from seeing my environment clean and tidy. I can take pride in the area in which I live and work. I want other people living in the beautiful Borough of Newham to have a better quality of life.”

He hopes the East Ham Litter Pickers will inspire other local groups to work together and bring about similar transformations.