WHEN it comes to keeping the borough tidy, Blackburn with Darwen’s volunteers have bags of enthusiasm.

And there is now a small army of them pounding the streets with the figure recently topping the 1,000 mark.

Many are part of the Keep Blackburn Tidy and Keep Darwen Tidy groups – offering daily support through their network and busy Facebook pages.

Others applied through the Lancashire Volunteer Partnership and take pride in making a real difference to their borough.

Cllr Jim Smith, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive member for environmental services, said: “What an incredible achievement to top 1,000 volunteers for the Keep It Tidy initiative in our borough. These volunteers are out come rain or shine helping to make Blackburn with Darwen a better place to live and what a difference they’re truly making."

As part of a drive to encourage volunteering, the council offers a free kit to help residents get started.

It includes a littler picker, red and clear bags, gloves, a first aid kit and a bag of tea bags as a small thank-you.

Cllr Smith added: “These volunteers are a shining example of the council’s Your Call initiative working at it’s very best.

“The scheme is designed to help encourage and support residents to volunteer in many different ways right across the area with lots of opportunities available. The volunteers tell us that they feel a real sense of pride in what they’re doing and there’s significant health and wellbeing benefits too.

“They’re supported by our own dedicated Environment Team who themselves are passionate about making a difference to the borough.”

Amongst their many activities, The Keep Darwen and Keep Blackburn Tidy groups organise regular litter picks and play an active part in reporting waste issues from around the borough.

They also help to recycle – separating much of the litter they collect while also educating and encouraging their fellow residents to do the same.

In February, Keep Blackburn Tidy were recognised with the Council Leader Award, which was created by community group, One Voice Blackburn, to recognise those who have promoted community cohesion through leadership.

Starting as a humble Facebook page back in May last year as a way to keep the town cleaner and greener by linking like-minded volunteers together, Keep Blackburn Tidy has managed to amass a whopping 1,300 members.

And the group now collects, on average, 245 bags of rubbish each week.

Leader of the council, Cllr Mohammed Khan, said “This is our Your Call initiative at its very best.

“These volunteers are a real credit to the borough and the work they are doing is invaluable.

“What impresses me most is their drive to prevent litter being dropped in the first place – which is incredibly frustrating as it’s a real blot on our borough and just shouldn’t be happening.

“I believe we should all be more like these volunteers – proud of where we live and good neighbours.”