Croydon residents have decided to take matters into their own hands to combat the litter crisis strangling their local park.
Residents of Norbury in Croydon, including members of the ‘Friends of Norbury Park’ Facebook group, have begun a comprehensive clean-up and awareness campaign for Norbury Park with hopes to end the littering epidemic plaguing the area.
The park has become a hot spot for groups of local drinkers, who have taken to leaving hundreds of cans and bottles, broken glass, and even human waste in their wake.
Dr. Caroline Curtis, owner of Lucky Beans Nursery, near the park said: “We just want people to tidy up after themselves.
“The children of Norbury deserve to have a space that is not littered and is a wonderful space for them to play, and they deserve to have those opportunities.
“Some of the staff are too scared to take the children up to the park because they’re worried about broken glass and needles lying around.”
Lucky Beans Nursery, whose play area opens onto the park, have also sponsored a local signage campaign to make the heavy drinkers aware of the severity of local littering.
The signs and are in multiple languages, including Polish, Bulgarian, Latvian and Lithuanian, and are displayed across a number of local shops where the groups are known to purchase alcohol.
Curtis estimates that she has spent over £2000 of her own money to pay for local tidying services and waste disposal.
Friends of Norbury Park organise ‘clean-teams’ of local volunteers, who work to collect and dispose of huge amounts of litter from the park and surrounding area.
Curtis added: “It’s for the health and safety of the children, and it’s for people’s enjoyment.
“Infants are literally wading through such rubbish to play, which is not an outcome we can tolerate.
“They’re the future, they’re our responsibility and we want to give all of our children a wonderful experience.”
Croydon Council’s bankruptcy in late 2020 led to funding for public services being slashed, which contributed to an explosion of littering and fly tipping in the area.
Jenni Rodgers, 80, Vice-Chair of Friends of Norbury Park said: “It’s desperately sad, we’ve been gifted this beautiful space and as a community we’re simply not caring for it.
“It’s common to have literally hundreds of bottles and cans discarded around the trees and adjacent to the kid’s play areas.”
Friends of Norbury park are encouraging everyone in the local community to take action to keep the area clean and tidy, and hope that the ‘clean team’s’ example will serve as an inspiration to others.
Rodgers thinks that through positive engagement with the groups perpetrating this issue, the community will come together and be a catalyst for change.
Rodgers added: “When the groups of drinkers drink too much, they wonder off, they just don’t realise that there’s a huge amount of debris.
“If the signs are in their language, and they understand what we’re doing, and see us doing it, we’re hoping that will have the impact.”
Curtis noted that since the adoption of the signage by the local community, there has been an improvement to litter levels in the area, however the process will take time to see definite results.
Friends of Norbury Park are aiming to roll out more community based clean up initiatives over the next year including measures to make the park more family friendly and shaded seating for visitors.