A RIDDRIE mum has set up a community litter pick initiative to help regenerate the area after her kids pointed out the amount of rubbish blighting the local play park.

Mum-of-three Toni McInally came up with the idea after her kids, aged 10, six and two, asked to pick up the rubbish populating their play area.

The 33-year-old administrator at Glasgow Clyde College has since successfully lobbied the council to sweep roads, empty overflowing bins and provide the equipment for the clean-up.

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“I've lived in the area my whole life and it's just a lot worse than it’s ever been, I don't remember it ever being this dirty,” she said.

“The park in particular, we try to get the kids in to play but it’s in a really bad state of disrepair, and there is litter everywhere. It’s disgusting to be honest and just not usable.”

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Toni and other mums realised during lockdown that the area was in dire need of a makeover.

She said: “During the pandemic we all are in the local community so much more, and also in terms of maybe people with disabilities or the elderly who can’t walk far, you want nice green spaces near you.

“So we realised that we didn't have anything in our area, any type of clean facilities to use. It just made me sad that that was the only place to go and it was in such a state.”

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After repeatedly complaining to Glasgow City Council about the state of streets and green spaces, Toni got the attention of councillor Annette Christie, who has since offered to join the clean up effort. “She showed a real interest and said that she was happy to work alongside us to try and make things better in the area,” said Toni.

“I was always sending pictures to the council of these overflowing bins and saying 'where do you expect kids to put rubbish?' I ended up chatting to them, and they've been great. But then I thought ‘What else can we do as parents in the local area?’ “So my kids and my friend's kids were out playing one day, and they said, 'Mom, can we start picking up this rubbish?'. I was worried about hygiene so I had them put on some gloves and pick up a couple of crisps packets.

“They go to Saint Thomas' primary school and they've been doing work around Cop26, climate change and sustainability and I think they really took it on board and brought it home with them. They’ve already asked for their own litter pickers.”

“We then said ‘what if we try and get like a group of people and ask the council to support us with that?’ They have now supplied us with a lot of picking material, so hopefully we can make it a regular thing. It's on the table and if people aren't interested in the environment just now with Cop26 happening in Glasgow then they're never going to be."

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Toni, who is also studying a Working with Communities course at Glasgow Kelvin College, has since been spreading the word locally, posting on Facebook groups, delivering leaflets door to door, and involving the community council and neighbourhood groups.

She also managed to engage the local secondary school, which she thinks has a big part to play as well as being one of the sources of litter in the area.

Patrick Oberg, headteacher at Smithycroft Secondary, has been working with Toni and one of the local shopkeepers to help solve the litter problem. Together they have already organised a second litter pick involving pupils during school hours.

“There's a real community spirit in Riddrie,” added Toni. “But if you were just to turn up here on a Wednesday afternoon after the schools have finished, you wouldn't know that because the place is an absolute mess. The streets are filthy and you just think to yourself 'what happened here?'

“I just think people maybe just lost their sense of pride in the community a wee bit, they maybe think it's just up to the council, they would say 'I pay my council tax'... But I think you've also got a social responsibility to support your area, like cleaning your bins regularly and keeping your area outside your house tidy. I think it's just about people taking a wee bit of ownership for that. And hopefully this will encourage people to do that.”

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Toni’s first community clean-up is scheduled for Saturday, October 16, from 1pm to 3pm at Lethamhill Road play park.

The second litter pick organised in collaboration with Smithycroft Secondary will be held on Thursday, October 21, from 2.30pm.