Bottles, glasses, a tyre and a shoe are just some of the things that a team of 12 from a National Citizens Service programme have collected from the river around Henley this week using Hobbs rowing boats. They also collected around 20 bags of rubbish from the pavements around town.
The teenagers, aged 15-17 all joined a four-week programme where they spent the first week doing outdoor activities including climbing at Overstrand Hall in Norfolk, followed by a week at Hill End Centre, near Oxford where they learnt life skills including first aid, cooking and budgeting. The third and fourth weeks are spent in the local community doing a social action project with the topic this year of the environment.
Eleanor Whittle from the group came up with the idea of the community litter pick and then the group collectively came up with the idea of building a boat sculpture from the rubbish collected plus empty bread bags which were donated from Gillotts School. The structure of the boat, measuring about 1.5m was made at the River & Rowing Museum using bamboo canes and string and the plastic was then knotted together and weaved through the structure. It will be available to see in the Community Gallery in the museum from next week.
Anais Buche said, “All the plastic that we have collected, we are putting it altogether to make a boat sculpture. It is represents how plastic flows down if you put it altogether. It is like a boat travelling down the Thames. It will give people the impression and to realise how much is being dumped into the river. Eleanor Whittle added, “We wanted to raise awareness in our town that every little bit counts towards a bigger community thing as well as the fact globally we have big problems with plastic and we want to show that a small town can make an impact towards the bigger problem. Also, if we cause problems here, it doesn’t stay here, it goes down into the sea and oceans.”
Tom Wellesley, NCS Group Leader said, “It is the young persons’ project so it’s completely their own idea. We as staff then try and help and make it work for them. The whole point of the project is that is youth led and its all about their creativity and getting them to think outside the box. I’ve been really impressed with how they have designed the boat. Looking after the environment is important as it’s their generation that is going to be most affected by climate change if proper action is taken as soon as possible.”
This group was one of 3 groups of NCS in Henley this year for the first time in a few years. If you would like to find out more about NCS go to https://www.ncsyes.co.uk
Helen Barnett, Town Manager said, “I would love to thank them all for their hard work and for helping to make the town neat and tidy.”