Tag Archives: Volunteering

Wandle Cleanup: August 2019: Wandsworth

For this month’s cleanup we headed to Ravensbury Terrace, where the Wandle forms the boundary between the boroughs of Wandsworth and Merton.

As usual, once everybody had arrived, we did a quick Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. Earlier in the year, we had to cancel the cleanup at this particular site due to bad weather, so luckily the storm earlier in the week did not cause the river levels to rise too high, and we were able to go ahead. On the day the weather was windy but lovely and sunny – perfect for wading!

We had a total of 29 volunteers this month working together wading, pulling rubbish out from the river and litter picking the banks. We were expecting to discover a large accumulation of rubbish, due to the length of time since we’d visited this site, and whilst we found a fair amount, it was much cleaner than we thought!

We didn’t just find litter in the river this month… we also saved a butterfly from drowning and left him to dry out on the banks.

We stopped for lunch around 1 o’clock and had to eat the cake fast as it was melting in the sunshine! We also had time to model some of the interesting items we found.

After lunch we did a second sweep of the river and also ventured downstream a little more. We always manage to find more rubbish, so we went all the way through until 3 o’clock, when we finally decided to call it a day.

Here is the final rubbish pile.

So what did we find? 5 tyres, two bikes, two traffic cones, a carpet, a pillow, a make-up suitcase, a till (unfortunately empty), a pipe, a TV, 1 radiator, three footballs, a pram and as always lots of bottles, cans and plastic bags. 

Massive thanks to everyone who helped set up at the start of the day and pack up the van at the end of the event, Dave for supervising the Event Tent, Wandsworth Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment, and of course to our funders The National Lottery Community Fund!

Special shout out to Guy and helpers for clearing over 1500 Himalayan Balsam plants so we could litter pick the bank and access the river easily and to David for testing out the depth of the river!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Tom, Rob, Gearoid, Dave, Wally, Ben, Sheila, Tom, Charlene, Jason, Margaret, Charles, Chris, Fay, Deborah, David, Daphne, David, Paul, Derek, Ed, Thomas, William, Phil, Davina, Paul, Fingal and Guy.  

As this was our last clean-up, Jo and I would like to say a massive thank you to Polly and Jess from the Wandle Trust for training us and giving us the opportunity to run these cleanups. We have loved every minute and are sad to be leaving.

To all the volunteers that come out every month come rain or shine, you really are the heart of this charity and without you all we would not be able to run these events and make the difference we do to the river and surrounding environment.

Particularly huge thanks to Dave and Wally for giving us all the guidance and humour we could possibly ask for!

We wish you all the best and look forward to seeing the clean-ups continue to grow in the future. We will definitely be back to volunteer once we are finished on our next adventures!

Lucy and Jo.

Wandle Cleanup: July 2019: Sutton

For the July Cleanup we headed to Goat Road, Sutton.

We started off the day with the usual Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. As always, everyone was very eager to crack on with wading and litter picking along the banks.

We had 52 volunteers join us this month, another great turn out! From a distance, the river seemed fairly clean, but on closer inspection, we could see lots of rubbish was entangled in the river vegetation and bank sides. Derek had his eye on a Boris bike and motorcycle he had spotted earlier in the month so a few of the volunteers focused on retrieving these.

The riverbanks also needed a thorough litter picking and we came across around 100 cans that had been carelessly discarded.

When it was time for a lunch break, we were all hurrying to get a piece of Jo’s mums’ delicious coffee and walnut cake (thank you Valerie!).

In the afternoon we moved upstream of the road bridge to clear the section of river downstream of the weir.

There was still so much rubbish to find, so we went all the way through until 3 o’clock when we finally decided to call it a day.

Here is the final rubbish pile – a haul so big the council had to do two trips to take it away!

So what did we find? 10 tyres, a motorbike, a Boris bike, a bed, one mattress, a traffic cone, a carpet, two barriers, various toys, a bike, two coconuts, a toilet, and as always lots of bottles, cans and plastic bags. 

See you all next month!

Lucy and Jo

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up the van at the end of the event, Dave for supervising the Event Tent, and Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the same day, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment, and to our funders, the National Lottery Community Fund.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Val, Martin, Rosie, Tomm, Steve, Pauline, Dizzy, Dave, Kate, Jane, Dave, Guy, Steve, Takako, Thomas, Roderick, Fiona, Tony, Bertie, Jason, Paul, Syed, Sumayya, James, Lawson, Mike, Margo, Chris, Charles, Derek, Aaron, Nick, Claire, Joseph, Benjamin, Per, Phil, Andy, Joseph, Marion, Neil, Thea, Sarah, John, Wally, Rob, Dylan and Elisabeth.

Wandle Cleanup: June 2019: Merton

Our June river cleanup took place at North Road, Merton. We had a great turnout this month with 68 keen volunteers.

Following the welcome talk and health and safety briefing, we headed downstream to access the river and start removing the rubbish. It was amazing to discover how much litter was both floating and embedded in the riverbed and banks.

Items such as plastic bottles and food wrappers quickly filled the trugs, and volunteers on the banks helped to bag it up and wheel it to the rubbish pile.

The wading team in action.
Yorkshire puddings anyone?

We also found quite a few larger, heavier items such as duvets, bicycles and a three-piece sofa set! We hauled these onto the banks as a team, and the cub scouts also did a great job of bagging up the rubbish and carrying it to the rubbish pile.

Warning! Duvets are heavy when wet!

Several trees had fallen across the river, creating great habitat for insects, birds and fish, and also trapping rubbish for us to retrieve. The volunteers carefully leafed through the branches, searching for “hidden treasures”.

A litter trap – and also an important refuse for small fish and birds.

Around 1pm we took a break to refuel. A huge thanks to Wally for managing the refreshments. Whilst enjoying some cake we sang Happy Birthday to Derek, one of our long serving and dedicated cleanup team.

After lunch we went back in the river where we’d left off and continued upstream pulling more rubbish. In total we removed a total of 6 tonnes of rubbish from along just 250m of river!

Trug, after trug, after trug of rubbish!

What did we find?
Two bicycles, a sofa and two armchairs, car tyres, a TV, duvets, an estate agent signpost, various parts of motor vehicles, children’s toys, kitchen pots and pans, religious statues, and the usual food wrappers and drinks bottles and cans.

We had a massive rubbish pile by the end of the session!

Great work everyone. Looking forward to seeing you all at our July cleanup!

Jo & Lucy

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment, and to our funders, the National Lottery Community Fund.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Tim, Simon, Carter, Shaun, Claire, Alfie, Sheila, Phil, Dave, Chris, John, Carolyn, Nick, Tom, Jenny, Becky, Ed, Matthew, Tony, Charles, Tim, William, Steve, Emma, Berte, Joanna, Thomas, Anita, Wally, Neil, Guy, David, Peter, Martin, Per, Andy, Nick, Farah, Davina, Aria, Murray, Elizabeth, Claire, Joseph, Alan, Jason, Denis, Ivan, Robert, Wilfred, Sebastian, Arna, Jane, Alan, Rob, Bev, Robert, Stewart, Jill, Leo, Aaron, Brian, Thea, Phil, Liz, Chris, Simon, Suzanne

Going Round the Bend: Next Stop a Re-naturalised River

By Lawrence Hemmings, our River Restoration Volunteer

After a great deal of planning by Luke the habitat improvement works on the Ravensbury Park Back Channel have begun with the help of our contractors – Ru and Jack of AquaMaintain. The digger and dumper have arrived as have the hazel faggot bundles posts, not forgetting the loathsome pile driver (a 20 kg hammering tool essential for river habitat work). And without further ado splash!  Work could commence.

In order to create a more biodiverse, naturally functioning river, complete with runs, glides, pools and riffles, the Ravensbury Channel needs a little encouragement.  By securing the faggot bundles in an irregular zig-zag on both sides of the river, the variation in flow will scour out deeper pools, form riffles, and, with any luck, some gravels will appear – perfect spawning grounds for amorous fish!

The Back Channel

So Luke, Jack and I splashed into the river with our trusty pile driver at the ready. We pinioned hazel faggot bundles in place by hammering in stakes on both sides, and a new bank line quickly started to appear.

Meanwhile our adept digger driver Ru set about clearing the brush from the park-side bank of the river where we have removed the toeboarding, sheet piling and other bank reinforcements. In no time at all Ru had begun re-grading the steep-sided river banks, which will allow us to connect the river to its natural soil bank. The bank can then be planted with typical marginal plants, such as sedges and reeds, creating a continuum from aquatic to terrestrial habitat. We will also be digging a small back water, where the slack flows will allow fish fry to seek refuge away from the perils of the fast lane – the new turbulent Back Channel.

The Back Channel

Stay tuned for more updates!