A history of The New Brighteners

By Dave Peddie | August 20 2019

A history of The New Brighteners

Blog Category: General updateBlog Tags: Biodiversity

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    Loving the New Brighton Shore

    In late Summer of 2009, a local couple moved to the fabled land of Nue Bryetun, now known as, New Brighton, not in itself an unusual event. Being beach lovers, and seeing litter all over the beach, unlike others they didn’t ignore it. Instead they decided to do something about it.

    Knowing they would need some basic equipment, they raised some funding from Mersey Docks and Harbours to buy litter pickers, bag hoops and gloves and started regular beach cleaning events with a handful of friends.

    In 2013, another couple, went through a similar process, a little way up the coast, getting pickers and hoops from the Countryside Rangers. With a few Facebook friends they started a small group who would do ‘ad-hoc’ litter picking when they went for a walk, or took the dog along the beach.

    Initially neither group knew of the other, until one of the fabled and mysterious, Rangers, happened to mention to one group the existence of the other, and so, one day not long after, they all met. At this meeting they all decided that working together would be a good idea, and on the 29th August 2013, in the Olive Tree Restaurant, New Brighton, The New Brighteners (TNB) was launched.

    One of the first strategic things was to set up a Facebook Group (facebook.com/groups/thenewbrighteners)& membership grew rapidly to, at the time of writing just under 2000. The word spread far and wide, to remote part of the Kingdom of Grande Brittania, and even to the fabled lands beyond the great Oceans. In practical terms, and this group is, above all else, practical, it has a core membership group of around 40-50 active, ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ members and a small ‘management’ team called, the ‘Non-Committee’. The Brighteners also have a wide membership demographic: ages range from 4 to 70+, and even has some friendly Canine members. TNB are very cheap to run. All members are volunteers, and do not spend gold or silver on themselves, for Food or Grog or other worldly pleasures, but only on equipment ! They now cover an approx 4 mile stretch of the New Brighton coast, as well as community spaces and streets close to members’ own homes.

    In 2015-16 the group was successful in obtaining funding from the, Your Wirral Wide cross-constituency fund, for a special project to kick-start four new community litter picking groups across three Constituencies of the kingdom of Wirral. These new, wholly autonomous, litter picking groups being based in the Wirral Fiefdoms of Egremont, West Kirby Transition Town, Wallasey Central Park and the Bidston Moss reclamation zone.

    In the last 10 years, TNB have gained a reputation for getting the job done and are often asked to assist at special events. Members also sit on New Brighton’s Marine Point Anti-Social Team, are members of: the New Brighton Coastal Community Team, the Wirral Coast Partnership, and consulted on some of the 20-20 pledge committees and also liaise with both local and national associations including, Keep Britain Tidy, The Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, The Wildlife Trust (UK) and Wirral Wildlife Trust and The Environment Agency. Many Brighteners are also independently member of some of these groups.

    TNB has worked closely with, and advised Wirral Council, over a number of environmental issues leading to more litter bins, the banning of balloon releases on Council land and are pushing the authorities to ban polystyrene use by local event food concessionaires. Thanks also to the local, and mysterious, Rebecca Mermaid, who is the local Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) Rep, New Brighton is now officially Single use Plastic Free. We also raised funds to sponsor two of our own, Big Red Bulk Bins which display brightly coloured anti-rubbish messages.

    Another crucial element is to spread the rubbish-free message to young people via clubs, schools, youth clubs and colleges, including classroom sessions, and sometimes follow-up litter picks, focussing on the environmental dangers of beach litter: plastics, polystyrene, etc., entering the ocean ecology.

    Notable achievements include winning the 2016 Liverpool Echo’s Neighbourhood Project Award, The Wirral Tourism Award for, Volunteer Team of the Year 2017, and were Finalists again in the Echo awards in 2018. We also created a (fairly) tame Rubbish Monster! We were also acclaimed by the BBC’s Breakfast Programme, as ‘Coastal Champions’ in September 2017.

    TNB also work in partnership with other New Brighton/Wirral volunteer groups including, the Black Pearl Pirates, the Friends of Vale Park, Heart of Egremont, the Momentary Art Project, and the West Kirby High Tidiers and liaise with other groups who live on the far shores of the great River Mersey

    So….. what does the next 10 years and beyond hold for The New Brighteners? The Planet and its oceans face the most serious environmental threat ever – Plastic, and we all need to do something about it. What will you do?

    In closing here are some final thoughts…..

    Is it ‘Litter’, or is it ‘Rubbish’?

    Words have different meanings to different people in differing situations. Whilst doing a recent May Bank Holiday ‘litter’ pick we approaching a group of 6 teenage girls sitting on the sand and simple asked, ‘got any litter for my bag?’ [clearly seeing the litter around them]
    ‘No, don’t think so’, replied one girl looking round, yet sitting within an arm’s reach of her empty polystyrene takeaway tray.
    We pointed it out….
    ‘Oh that?’ she exclaimed, and picked it up and popped it in my bag. Then the other girls seemed to understand, picking up another polystyrene takeaway tray and three empty glass bottles and contributed to the bag.

    This got us thinking that it would clearly seem the words, ‘Litter’ and ‘Rubbish’ are two different concepts. ‘Litter’ probably meaning small bits of paper blowing around (or similar) and ‘Rubbish’ the more horrible stuff.
    Is this why, when we refer to putting your ‘litter’ in a bin, or taking your ‘litter’ home, the message doesn’t get through to folks. Do we need to simply start calling it ‘Rubbish’, the horrible stuff, to help people understand what we are talking about? We think that we do.

    And this is why We Love New Brighton

    [FB – https://www.facebook.com/groups/thenewbrighteners/]

    [email: thenewbrighteners@gmail.com]

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Dave Peddie