It has been a challenging experience taking up a new job just as we all entered into COVID lockdown. The vast majority of my time since May has involved me working from my home across the river Forth in Alloa. This has often left me feeling detached from the community that I am very keen to get to know and it has been similarly frustrating that I have not been able to meet and engage with the groups and organisations that will shape and progress the local community safety strategy. Zoom is no substitute for meeting people in the real world and I have also missed just being about Camelon and Tamfourhill and experiencing the daily life of these communities. The last week then has been a tremendous experience for myself as I have been able to directly support community activities and familiarise myself with the streets and byways of the local area. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to share all the positive experiences I have had in the last week and the amazing people I have met who are all committed to making a real difference to the local area and contributing to making Camelon and Tamfourhill a happier and safer place to live and work.
Last Wednesday afternoon I met the P6 & P7 pupils from Carmuirs Primary School who have been learning about the negative consequences to the environment and to the community of dropping litter and dumping rubbish. This activity was not about clearing up other people’s mess, this was a learning experience which had a focus upon carrying out litter surveys and promoting techniques which will encourage behaviour change. This Project will continue over the next few months and the pupils will be monitoring the impacts of being part of a community and environmental clear up and behaviour change Project. The pupils spent the morning watching a presentation about litter and its damage to our environment and they were also involved with discussions about the reasons that litter is often dropped and what we as a community can do to improve that situation. An important aspect of this Project is to encourage behaviour change and to discourage people from dropping their litter in the first place. In order to achieve this new anti-litter signs, posters and stickers will be appearing in the streets around Carmuirs Primary School, so I am extremely happy to announce that the winner of the Keep Scotland Beautiful poster competition was Jaimee, so thanks to everyone who took the time to vote in the recent social medial poll. After the different teams had completed their litter surveys, we finished the afternoon off by all having a hot drink prepared with the Kelly Kettles whilst we also had a chat around the fire about the importance of conservation. I would like to thank Ella from Waste Services at Falkirk Council, Carolyn from TCV Scotland and Ms Boyd and Mr Bell from Carmuirs Primary School, it was great for me to be out in the community meeting these young people and their positivity and enthusiasm were outstanding, here are some of their written comments when they took part in an evaluation of the days programme: “ I learnt how to start a fire safely and I enjoyed the hot chocolate drink , and I also enjoyed writing the survey”, “I liked how everybody worked together, I also enjoyed the hot chocolate but I didn’t like how much rubbish that we found “I liked doing the survey and I loved helping our community” “Meeting new people and the hot chocolate”, these are just a few of the comments but overall the survey was definitely enjoyed especially when everyone got a cup of hot chocolate .
The next day I was out again but this time with some local adult volunteers and we carried out another survey along a measured transect on Brown Street. I will publish the results of all of these #tidycleangreen litter surveys in the new year as they reveal certain patterns, and they will be useful for developing our campaigning work that will follow on from these initial surveys and data gathering sessions. I would therefore like to thank Babs and Chris for giving up their Thursday morning to show me about the local area and carrying out the litter survey around Brown Street and its environs. I know they carry out regular litter picks, but I very much appreciate their contribution to our ongoing local campaign.
Over the weekend I was privileged to be involved with supporting the Camelon Winter Festival and the Big Screen Project in particular. Over Saturday and Sunday, I must have covered 15- 20 miles on foot supporting the Camelon Arts Project with their amazing touring film and Christmas entertainment. This was a marvel to behold and although the entire film was amazing, I personally really appreciated and enjoyed the Freedom of Mind Choir and Brian MacGregor and Geraldine Heaney’s: “A Fanfare of Giants” an emotive piece of art. This was a totally amazing production of creativity and what an incredible input from the volunteers on both days. The rains came big style on Sunday, yet the volunteers and the Camelon arts staff just kept going with good humour and total commitment. I enjoyed this tour of the area and I met some very interesting people and I would like to highlight the volunteers: Craig the cyclist, Ian, Stuart, Kevin, Kenneth and Lorraine and supported by Maria from the Cyrenians, Mark, Mina and Kevin from Camelon Arts, and our own Dan the supper efficient tea boy at CJFC, what a team “you will never walk alone”, and off course also a big thanks to Charlie who provided warmth and shelter in our time of need. Finally, the other strand of the Winter Festival was the visit of Santa in his horse drawn carriage and accompanied by his hard-working elves. I only passed the carriage on a couple of occasions but the children on the street that I saw were totally amazed, excited and overjoyed when the carriage toured around their street. The Winter Festival Committee produced an amazing weekend despite the challenges of COVID, the amount of work that must have gone into this is massive and I would like to acknowledge and thank: Anne, Babs, Chris, Mary and Liz and my apologies to anyone I have missed because this was such a fabulous team effort that produced such an amazing festive experience for the community.