Volunteers who give thousands of hours clearing the beaches along the Kingsgate and Botany Bay coastline are heading up a scheme which will see charities benefitting from their efforts.
The Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate group has set up as a community interest company and is encouraging people to pay £15 for a Beach Clean Hour.
In return £5 will go towards the group’s nominated charities and an hour’s clean will take place with the volunteer posting a video or photos to show where and when the clean took place.
The remaining £10 of the fee will cover overheads, which includes an initial spend to create the CIC, with website, hosting and accounting costs.
Volunteer and project lead Barry Manners, from Botany Bay, says he hopes the scheme will evolve into a Friends of Thanet Coastline initiative with other local groups heading efforts to implement the beach cleans along their beaches.
The former London estate agent (pictured above) said: “We are making sure the whole system and the concept works and then hopefully we can expand it as this would mean economies of scale and we could have, for instance, one set of accounts and a finance officer.
“The process now is that we get a notification that someone has purchased a beach clean hour and it is allocated to a volunteer. Each beach clean will have a work sheet so we can tell people where, when and by who it is getting done.
“It can then be put on social media. What I would like is for our volunteers to have go-pro cameras and an app so people can see the clean being done in real time and this creates a real link between the person making the donation and boots on the ground.”
The 54-year-old says the plan is to put in most hours at the weekend, when beaches generally suffer the most littering, with a bit of time spread through the week.
Last year the volunteers gave some 2,000 hours of their time keeping Botany, Whiteness and Kingsgate Bays clean. On a typical busy weekend there would be 30 volunteers collecting some 30 bags of rubbish each day and preventing tonnes of plastics from entering our ocean eco-system.
But Barry said there were times when this became disheartening for members. He said: “People have been volunteering to pick up litter on beaches for the last 100 years. What has changed in the last few years is the amount of litter being left.
“The infrastructure just isn’t there to keep removing such large amounts of litter, the council simply hasn’t got the money to do it and the litter being left is mind boggling.
“You have 30 motivated volunteers collecting 30 bags during a Saturday afternoon, you can’t do that with the amount of public money available.
“But volunteers get burnt out. They spend hours cleaning the beach and the next day it is trashed again. Thanet council will announce it’s solved the problem with a couple of litter picker staff with no mention of the thousands of hours put in by volunteers. It demotivates people.
“So, we decided to get them motivated by making the cleans for money that will go to causes they care about, every hour they do supports our charities.”
Currently the beach clean donations will be made to Oasis Domestic abuse Service, district scouts, Thanet Winter Shelter and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue medics.
The Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate have already sold around 23 beach cleans, meaning around £115 for their charity causes has been collected.
If successful the plan to expand could be as one large group or through lots of smaller groups taking on their own initiatives.