Every month I meet up with a small group of volunteers to litter pick in Stoke Park Estate in Bristol. We’ve been litter picking in the estate for 3 years now and each year litter seems to be reducing. When we first started doing it there was lots of historic litter which had been there for years, it took months of tidying to get it looking better. On one occasion the council cut back a load of scrub to reveal hundreds of vodka bottles – it was a weighty job getting them up to the top of the park for collection. We carried out all manor of items, from traffic cones to burnt out motorcycles! The park is 108 hectares, which makes it one of the largest open spaces in the City of Bristol.
The estate is home to all sorts of wildlife, from unusual migrating birds, multiple species of bat, fields of wildflowers, ancient woodland with bluebells and garlic, grass snakes, great crested newts, deer, rabbits, foxes to meadows of butterflies and woods packed full of different types of trees. Our litter picks used to be a real work out, often carrying crammed full bags from the corner of the park on our own. Now as there is less litter it’s more of a walk and talk, with a small amount of litter picking as we chat. Walking and talking is starting to be used as a type of therapy for people suffering from mental health problems, it’s also a good way of retaining a healthy mind. When I walk and talk I don’t have to think about body language or eye contact so I feel less anxious and at ease. We often have different people turn up for volunteering each month and it’s interesting hearing about other people’s experiences of the park and it’s wildlife
. We are now starting to meet people out walking who tell us how much they appreciate the park looking tidy and how they now pick up what they see when they are out walking which is really positive.
Having a fixed activity to attend each month with guaranteed company can keep you focused, it’s a commitment to stick to even when your mind feels fuzzy or your world feels like it’s falling apart. There is always something interesting to see when we are out litter picking and the woods seem to look different every time I visit.
For further information on Stoke Park please visit here