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Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Blog | 12 February 2024

Leani and her super litter picking mission

Alanah Reid, Creative Content Producer

Inspired by learning about the environment and pollution at school, Cub Scout Leani was determined to make a difference.

Leani took it upon herself to organise a litter pick for her classmates one weekend to help tidy up her local area.

To spread the word, Leani created posters, certificates, and leaflets, handing them out in her community and at church. She even arranged a prize draw to encourage more people to take part.

Leani's here to tell us more.

Hi, it’s Leani here.

I love Scouts. I started Cubs during lockdown and I’ve grown so much since I’ve joined. I’ve learned so many important life skills, like being independent and responsible, and made friends for life. Scouts is helping me gain so many new skills. Now, I don’t hesitate to take on challenges.

I love my community, I care about the environment, and I want to be a responsible person. I’m so pleased my little brother was able to join Squirrels this year. He loves it and he’s not throwing nearly as many tantrums as he used to before he started Scouts.

Helping the environment

I think of myself as an environmentalist. I walk to school because I want to help save the planet. I believe if everyone makes a small change in their life, it could have a big impact on the environment.

When I see litter, I pick it up, and now it’s second nature. My little brother is starting to do the same. Before we start litter picking, we make sure we know what’s safe to pick up and what we should leave. We also wear gloves each time we pick litter.

A Cub Scout is holding a carrier bag with gloves on. She's smiling at the camera in her Cubs uniform and doing a 'peace' sign with her right hand. She's standing on a pavement with a bin just behind her and there are other young people and adults in the background.

Safety first

Like Leani, remember to learn what's safe to pick up and what you should leave. 

Always wear gloves before you pick litter and make sure your gloves are appropriate for the type/area/duration of the litter pick.

If you're using litter pickers, lightweight gloves will help keep your hands clean while you hold the tool or bag.

You should wear sturdy gloves, like gardening gloves, if you'll be touching any litter or working in an area where your hands may get caught by other things, like undergrowth.

Organising the event

We were learning about environment and pollution at school, so I decided to organise the litter pick event.

The school found out about the event when they saw me handing out some flyers in the playground, and they asked if they could turn this into a sponsored litter pick to invest in recycling bins for the school.

Lots of children from school and the community joined in, and everyone enjoyed it. I’m proud to be a Scout, so I decided to do the litter pick in my Cubs uniform.

This inspired children and adults from my school to help litter pick and join our clean up team.

I asked a friend of mine to help get even more people to join us. He helped hand out flyers and spread the word too.

We were both awarded with a Community Champion Award from my school, which was amazing.

Leani joined Cubs during lockdown over Microsoft Teams. She was quite a shy little girl, but she got involved immediately. During her time at Cubs, she became a natural leader – she was made Sixer and our Cub of The Year for 2023. Her skills and talent are simply amazing, and she organised the whole Pack at events or on Pack night without needing to be asked. She’s now moved onto Scouts and is already impressing there.

Tony, Leani's Cub Team Leader

Litter picking at Scouts

If you’re inspired by Leani, why not organise a litter pick in your local community with your Group? Our Litter splitter activity is a great place to start.

You could take part in the Great British Spring Clean campaign, between 15 and 31 March. 

It's a great way to look after your local area, and earn your Community Impact badges along the way.

Outdoor in 24 is helping Scouts to spend more time in nature. Why not make litter picking one of your Outdoor in 24 challenges as part of the blanket badge?

What I love about Scouts

My favourite thing to do at Scouts is absolutely everything. But, if I have to choose, it would be the camping trips and earning Nights Away badges. At camp, I love survival skills, which my leader Tony inspired in me from being a member of the BushScout National Scout Active Support Unit.

I’m so passionate about camping that I’ve convinced my entire family to camp, and my dad’s even bought a truck to take everybody! I love learning and I learn something new each week at Scouts.

When we had a Pack Forum, I led my Six in deciding which activities to do, and we chose litter picking. We went to our local park and each team collected two bags of rubbish each. It was great getting the Scouts involved.

Next, I’m planning to do some community work, by regularly visiting a care home for the elderly and I’ll either sing/dance/play piano for the residents. This’ll make me so happy.

Well done, Leani

We’re so pleased to hear how much you’re helping the environment and your community. Keep it up!

More safety information

Before starting your own litter pick, make sure you carry out a risk assessment, just like any other activity.

It’s important young people are supervised when picking litter and know to avoid items that don’t look safe.

  • Always wear gloves or use a litter picker.
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Tell an adult if you see any sharp objects such as broken glass. You’d need to collect broken glass very carefully, and it needs to go in a separate container – not just in a rubbish bag.
  • Don’t pick up needles or syringes, anything with human waste (like nappies), or anything that might contain dangerous chemicals, such as unidentified cans or canisters.
  • If you spot any of these things, record the location and report it to your local council or whoever owns the land.
  • If you’re not sure what something is, don’t pick it up – go and check with an adult.
  • Stay aware of where you are and what’s around you.
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