A SPIRTED group of young people are standing up to littering in their community.

The group of girls who attend Woodhouse Youth Council – known as the Girls Gang – have been tackling the problem as part of a successful community project. They have designed posters and written and performed a song to deter litter-bugs, in addition to carrying out a litter-pick in which they collected 11 bags of rubbish during a four-hour clean-up over a five-mile radius in Kells and Woodhouse.

The girls’ achievements were celebrated with a presentation of certificates at a Litter Heroes Community Event, held at St Peter’s Community Hall, through Connected Communities West Cumbria, part of an international research project developed by UCLan’s Centre for Citizenship and Community. Through including the community in all aspects of the research, it aims to promote ‘community capital’, where locals feel more confidence, engaged and empowered to make positive changes in their community.

Suzanne Wilson, UCLan’s Research Fellow in Social Inclusion and Community Engagement, said: “Connected Communities is all about empowering communities to take action to help them be the best that they can be.

“The Girls Gang is all about making a positive difference to their community, and that’s exactly what the girls are achieving. They are having fun, making friends and promoting citizenship in every way. They are wonderful role models, all leading by example.”

Attending the celebration event alongside community and charity representatives were Emma Williamson, county councillor for the area, who has helped deliver the project; Copeland’s mayor Mike Starkie; and Elizabeth Mallinson, chair of Cumbria County Council.

Coun Williamson said: “It’s about time that we moved away from people thinking that councils are expected to clean up litter after them; people have to take responsibility for their own actions. “I’m incredibly proud of these amazing girls; their passion shines through.”

Mr Starkie, who presented the certificates, said: “I am blown away by the confidence and positive attitude of all the girls here today. You clearly care very passionately about your community and you should never underestimate the influence you can have.”

Coun Mallinson added: “You are a credit to your community.”

The girls have also carried out a supervised doorstep survey to uncover issues in the local area. The results will now be analysed andA project devised, in tandem with the young people, to help address the issues identified.

Visit the ‘Connected Communities West Cumbria’ Facebook page.