As part of our Beautiful Boroughs Project, we’re helping East-enders to work together to solve local issues, build community spirit and enjoy the natural beauty of their green spaces.

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived areas in the UK, with the some of the highest levels of unemployment and child poverty in the country. Since June 2012 volunteers, calling themselves the Mudchute Magpies, have waged war on the notorious litter infested areas surrounding Mudchute Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station, in the Isle of Dogs. This area encompasses the local beauty spot Millwall Park and the borders of the Mudchute city farm.

The volunteers are an impressive mix of local residents of all ages, aided by the enthusiastic 2nd East London Scout Group. CleanupUK have been instrumental in helping to establish this group, canvassing the area and providing equipment, including litter pick ups, bags, gloves and high-visibility vests.

The Mudchute Magpies meet monthly to bag the rubbish that street cleaners aren’t able to reach, particularly in wasteland, bushes, roadsides and the parks. Ironically, it’s the people enjoying the natural environment and having picnics and barbeques, who leave behind much of the waste. According to one volunteer Jane Garrity,

“Local families and young people are the worst offenders. They come out in huge family groups and walk away leaving the litter, even dirty nappies.”

Altogether 101 volunteers and the scout group have collected an incredible 260 bags of rubbish in the last six months alone. But, perhaps even more importantly, CleanupUK has given the group the confidence to ask for help in tackling some of the area’s most persistent and demoralising litter issues. With our backing the group has secured the assistance of the local ASDA, who now keep their car park spotless and debris free.

And the Tower Hamlets Councillor, Zara Davis has also been recruited to the cause and is now a passionate supporter. Through her intervention, the once filthy areas around the local medical centre and along the underpass are regularly cleaned by the council – helping them to feel safer and look more welcoming.
Zara says of the Magpies,

“I’m extremely impressed by what the group are doing. They can transform the local environment in just a couple of hours,” before adding, “CleanupUK remains vital to the Mudchute group, so I do hope you continue to offer your support.”

The reasons why the volunteers are so keen to get involved vary, Jane, for example says,

”I couldn’t bear to see the rubbish every day on my way to work and wanted to do something to help.”

But for others litter picking also represents a way of meeting people and strengthening neighbourly bonds, as well as positively influencing their community.

Our litter picking initiative has inspired hundreds of residents, who feel empowered to improve their neighbourhood. As a result, the Mudchute area is a cleaner, greener and friendlier location for everybody to enjoy