£1,000 Championing Grant awarded to Formby & Freshfield Beach Litter Angels

This year support for small but vital charities has never been more needed, and Formby & Freshfield Beach Litter Angels is a perfect example of a small community project that is making a big difference. Nominated by our member Julie Godsall, we are delighted to provide the Formby & Freshfield Beach Litter Angels with a Championing Grant of £1,000.

Formby & Freshfield Beach Litter Angels is a community group of volunteers, who feel passionate about keeping their local beaches clean.

Founded in July 2018, by three people who wanted to make a difference, Tracy, Amber and Carla didn’t know each other, but individually litter picked their local beaches. One day their paths crossed, and very quickly, they formed the Beach Litter Angels Group, and they haven’t looked back since.

Tracy, Amber and Carla are passionate about the beautiful beach at Formby and feel desperately sad when people come to visit and leave their litter behind. Not only does this spoil the beach for other visitors, but it also has awful consequences for plants and wildlife, not only damaging the health of animals, it can destroy their habitat and environment too.

From left to right: The Beach Litter Angels Founders – Amber, Tracy and Carla

So, Tracy, Amber and Carla decided to do something, and Formby and Freshfield Beach Litter Angels was born. The aim was simple – do what they could to remove and recycle as much rubbish as possible from the glorious long stretches of beach, sand dunes and pine woods that are home to a diverse range of wildlife all year round.

Aware that many people work or have other commitments during the day and at weekends, the Beach Angels decided to run beach cleaning events in the evenings so more people could get involved. Now operating for just over two years, the team are proud to say they have more than 1500 members and its growing every day. Typically, they will run 3 or 4 events each month, especially during busy times.

The Group don’t just find newly left rubbish on their litter picks, some of their historic finds include crisp packets and drinks cans from the 1970s – which just shows why it’s so important to dispose of our rubbish responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

Reflecting on the engagement from the local community, Tracy said,

“The community support has been fantastic, and we are so grateful for the local support. Without our amazing volunteers, we could never have achieved what we have so far, and it’s gaining momentum all the time.”

2020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year for the whole of the UK, and the COVID restrictions prevented the Beach Angels from organising their usual events. Sadly, the influx of visitors throughout the summer resulted in more litter, and the beach angel volunteers were never more needed. But rather than being deterred, the team mobilised their volunteers to do litter picks in line with Government guidelines adhering to strict health and safety rules. Volunteers could litter pick with members of their own household while being socially distant from others, and the Beach Angels provided equipment so volunteers could do so safely. The response has been phenomenal.

2020 has also brought new challenges that are having a terrible impact on wildlife, and this is due to disposable masks finding their way onto our streets, countryside and beaches. The RSPCA reports that its officers have had to rescue animals tangled in face masks, so the best thing to do is to simply cut the elastic ear straps in half before throwing it away.

Tracy continues:

“We now support all beach angels volunteers, who go out alone, or with family, outside our events and we have recently set up a system of drop off points, for bags of litter to be collected, by the National Trust Wardens. We have a great relationship with the local National Trust, who support us avidly, and happily assist us at our events. We love that we support each other, in what is clearly a massive environmental issue.”

The £1,000 grant from the Foundation has given the Beach Angels security for the future and will allow them to long term loan equipment, knowing that they can replace broken or lost items, whilst continuing to purchase and add to their equipment. They’ll also be able to purchase banners and posters for the foreseeable future to not only encourage volunteers but also raise awareness of the impact of littering which they hope will discourage people from leaving litter in the first place.

Commenting on the grant from the Foundation, Tracy said,

“We feel incredibly humbled by the donation from the Matthew Good Foundation and to Julie for nominating us; we are eternally grateful. Thank you, does not seem enough.”

The Formby and Freshfield Beach Angels ethos is always to support the National Trust in clearing as much rubbish as they can from the beautiful National Trust Reserve and Beach and to simply make a difference.

If anyone is interested in joining the group, please see their Facebook group ‘Formby & Freshfield Beach Litter Angels‘ or email them on beachlitterangels@gmail.com for more information.