NEARLY 2,000 volunteer litter-pickers have joined Blackburn with Darwen's 'red bag revolution' since the scheme was launched.

And council bosses have praised the hundreds of people who give up their spare time to help keep their borough tidy.

Since the Keep Blackburn and Darwen Tidy initiatives began around three years ago, a total of 1,891 volunteers have signed up to be involved, with the respective Facebook groups continuing to grow by the day.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has supplied 628 litter-picking kits to people since the start of lockdown, and during the Easter bank holiday alone, thousands of bags were collected across the borough.

Bringing together people from all walks of life, the initiative has helped residents in Blackburn with Darwen develop a sense of pride and identity in the clean spaces they create.

As a result, bosses say, the borough has seen amazing transformations, from community alleyways to side streets decorated with plant pots and creative designs, in the hope that it will inspire others to create change in their own neighbourhoods.

Blackburn with Darwens red bag litter picking revolution

Blackburn with Darwen's red bag litter picking revolution

Service lead for adult learning and employment support at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Karen Wignall, said: "The litter-picking initiative is a fantastic example of a strengths based approach to improving local areas and turning them into clean spaces that everyone can enjoy.

"Groups of people coming together with a common goal, a sense of purpose and passion can make a massive difference to the environment as well as supporting their own and others’ wellbeing.

"Combining physical activity with giving something back to the community fosters a real sense of belonging and improves mental and physical wellbeing.

"Our Community Connectors and Social Prescribing Link Workers feel confident to refer people onto these local groups because they are made up of kind-hearted people who want the best for local communities and individuals alike.

"It is amazing to see the transformation of some of these spaces and the creativity is endless.

"Our Adult Learning team recently ran an online rock painting course which residents attended live on their laptops from their back alleys.

"We also run gardening sessions encouraging people to take care of their outdoor spaces, including those which are shared by others."

Blackburn with Darwens red bag litter picking revolution

Blackburn with Darwen's red bag litter picking revolution

The efforts of volunteers litter picking every week has made keeping Blackburn with Darwen tidy easier and has allowed residents to take ownership in their areas.

While the Keep Darwen Tidy and Keep Blackburn Tidy community groups haven’t been able to organise group litter picking days due to Covid restrictions, individuals doing a little and often has made a big impact across the borough.

Blackburn with Darwen Council director of place, Martin Eden, said: "It’s absolutely fantastic to see the local community acting with us to tackle litter and fly-tipping across Blackburn with Darwen.

"The volunteers and Keep It Tidy groups do a brilliant job at keeping our local areas clean, educating across the borough and engaging with residents to get them on board.

"I thank each and every one of them for their hard work and encourage as many people as possible to get involved.

"Together we can really make a difference and show our sense of pride in Blackburn with Darwen."

Heidi-Marie Whittle Pugh one of the volunteer litter pickers

Heidi-Marie Whittle Pugh one of the volunteer litter pickers

This year the Lancashire Telegraph launched its We Love Lancashire campaign looking to highlight the work of such volunteers and calling for people to take pride in their area.

The Council has recently removed the booking system for its household waste recycling centres, making it easier for residents to safely dispose of waste.

There is also a dedicated education officer who works with communities and schools to help improve recycling rates.

Over the past year, the Environment Waste Crime team has received payment for 66 fixed penalty notices and handled 49 prosecutions for waste-related offences, sending out a clear message that littering and fly-tipping in the borough will not be tolerated.

You can join the Blackburn and Darwen Keep It Tidy groups by searching on Facebook, however application for kits have been put on hold until equipment has been fully restocked.

Waste crimes can be reported to the council at