Volunteer Ikhlaq Hussain began picking up litter in his neighbourhood in January and is now alongside others in his area, shifting dozens of bags of rubbish each week. Here, he explains why he wants to inspire others to help keep their streets clean.

I initially applied for a litter-picking kit because I wanted to volunteer for a good cause and intended to keep the front area of my road clean.  I stumbled upon the opportunity by chance when Googling and joined the ‘Keep Blackburn Tidy’ group after receiving my kit. 

When I saw all the wonderful posts on this amazing group, I decided I wanted to make a difference to my area.

Before joining, I had just learnt to live amongst litter in Bastwell like many others, but after looking at all the wonderful posts in this group, I started looking at litter differently and everywhere I looked, I began to notice litter AS a problem, not a way of life.

When I went out for my first pick, I felt a little embarrassed as usually I keep myself to myself and just knew everyone will be staring at me cleaning on Whalley New Road. 

First few times I wore a winter hat which had a mask covering my face (It was cold!) so no one would see me. 

Lancashire Telegraph:

Ikhlaq Hussain with volunteers Haadi-Ali Shah and Idris Hanif (centre)

After a few litter picks, I grew confident and started to really enjoy it. I ditched my hat as I wanted people in the community to know it was a local resident taking action and shout out about the litter problem through my actions. 

Slowly people started taking an interest in what I was doing and why I was doing it and through this I have met some awesome people in Bastwell who are also interested in helping keeping their area tidy, thus the Keep Bastwell Tidy group was formed.

We decided to tackle some large litter hotspots after I drove around Bastwell and took pictures of some litter hotspots which needed several hands. 

We have organised several successful picks and recruited a couple of people in the process. Now I run a group with a dozen active pickers in Bastwell and around 7 more who are waiting for their kits and joining. We have since February shifted 250+ bags of litter in Bastwell together.

When I usually walk the streets, I will try and pick what I can but it's not much. But, when I walk the streets with my red bag and picker, I feel like a superhero, I feel empowered and can pick up everything I see.

One lunchtime, I found a large cardboard box in the middle of Maple St on the pavement with an address on it. I promptly picked up the box, knocked on the address and told the resident where I found it and politely asked if they could ensure it is recycled properly as we are cleaning the area. They embarrassingly said ‘okay’, thanked me and retreated inside. 

Lancashire Telegraph:

Before and after images of the same area in Bastwell (Keep Bastwell Tidy)

Lancashire Telegraph:

One Saturday during the Troy Street pick, I asked several young lads to help us carry many bags and contribute as they socialize in the area and we were tired. They happily gave us a hand. One has even started litter picking today.

A few months ago, I would never have felt nervous about asking anyone anything.
I want to say a massive thank you to all the help and support in this group as there are some wonderful and beautiful people full of advice.

Lancashire Telegraph:

If you need any sort of guidance or support in cleaning your street. Please contact me on my Facebook page here.

My request to all neighbours is - please help keep Blackburn tidy. Together we can stamp out litter. To see a change, you have to be the change, believe in yourself, one person can make a difference.

You can also find out more about volunteering and ordering a litter picking kit by using the link here

To find out more about Keep Blackburn Tidy see their page here.