A large scale ‘spring clean’ of Ballymena’s sprawling Ecos Park has been carried out by local volunteers and staff from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
As part of Ballymena’s 2017 ‘Britain in Bloom’ campaign, volunteers were sought to help improve the town through horticultural activities, weeding and litter-picking.
In response, Hope Centre Ballymena staff, volunteers and service users, representatives from Tesco and other volunteers ‘joined up’ to help make Ballymena a cleaner, greener and safer place to visit.
Speaking at the event, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE said: “I was delighted to welcome so many volunteers, associated with the Hope Centre Ballymena. Everyone gave up their own time to support this event.
“It was also great to see staff from across Council come together to work in partnership with the local community and businesses to help make Mid and East Antrim litter-free.”
The Hope Centre provides support, education and information for substance misusers and their families.
Ben Delija from the Hope Centre said: “As part of our ‘Let’s Get Together’ programme, Hope Centre staff, clients and volunteers regularly walk round and use the outdoor gym facilities at the Ecos Nature Park with our Health and Fitness Officer.
“We fully enjoy the beautiful surroundings and feel privileged to have this free amenity at hand in our town. We were therefore all keen to take part in the clean-up to help ensure the park remains a clean and enjoyable space for all in the future. Clients felt that this was their part in giving back something to the community,” he said.
The BIG Spring Clean is ‘Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s flagship volunteering opportunity delivered through ‘Live Here Love Here’.
The programme supports local community clean-ups across all 11 council areas in Northern Ireland. It is Northern Ireland’s fastest growing community clean-up volunteering campaign and is open to individuals, schools, community groups and businesses from all communities wishing to rid their streets of litter and discarded rubbish.
The event took place on 25 April to enhance the Ecos Nature Park, which is an acknowledged ‘oasis of wildlife’ close to the heart of Ballymena town centre.
Eight kilometres of mostly flat footpath gently leads visitors around 220 acres of parkland that includes maturing woodland, peaceful lake and ponds, grazed meadows and hay meadows.
Unfortunately, like many other parts of the Borough, the park suffers due to litter left by visitors to the site.
This litter can then have a negative impact on the local wildlife, which includes all manner of birdlife, including ducks, geese, swans, skylarks, lapwing and black terns, as well as otters and cattle which graze on the site.
‘Big Spring Clean’ continues to be a growing campaign; in 2015 it mobilised over 89,506 volunteers to get involved in clean-up events across Northern Ireland. Together we removed an amazing 107 tonnes of litter (that’s equivalent to six double decker buses) from streets, coastal and rural areas.
The great thing about the ‘BIG Spring Clean’ is that it provides a range of opportunities for volunteers including one-off events such as this which require only a few hours of time. All sections of local community can get involved.