My name is Pip and I am writing this article about my experience volunteering in my local Tidy Towns initiative. At the beginning of this year, I began the Dermot Earley Leadership course. This involved 8 sessions in module 1, a presentation in module 2 and I am currently partaking in module 3, which requires 20 hours of volunteering in a leadership project. The aim of this project is for us to utilize the leadership skills we have learned, to give back to the community.

I decided upon Dun Laoghaire Tidy Towns for my leadership project. Dun Laoghaire Tidy Towns takes place every Saturday from 10:30-11:30am. During this time, we are all assigned different areas throughout Dun Laoghaire to complete our litter picking. The clearance of litter is incredibly important to remove the eyesore and the unclean atmosphere litter creates.

Dun Laoghaire Tidy Towns group was re-established in January 2020. There is a growing number of volunteers participating in this organization to help achieve a cleaner, tidier and overall better local area for the community to enjoy and appreciate. Tidy Towns covers things like litter picking and landscaping, maintaining areas and planting flower beds. The leader Brian explains in more detail the breakdown of the jobs Tidy Towns covers; “Tidy Towns is much wider than litter picking. 50% of our effort is on maintaining and planting flower beds/gardens. We look after 7 such areas (Clarence Street and Bloomfields wildflower meadows, St. Michaels square, Marine Road, Boylan Centre, Carnegie Library Garden, George’s Street lavender beds).

We have nine large TT planters. We have bird baths and feeders, bug hotels, herb planters, water butts to recuperate rainwater. We are trying to promote sustainability, recycling, etc.”

In my opinion these great achievements are undoubtedly beneficial for the community and environment and are striving for sustainability and a better community.

I decided to interview the leader of Dun Laoghaire Tidy Towns, Brian, to learn more about the organization. Brian and his wife have been involved since its reestablishment at the beginning of 2020. I asked Brian what inspired him to begin Tidy Towns when he returned from his travels abroad in 2018; “A small group from the central residents’ association carried out occasional street clean-ups. We received a flier in our letter box and decided to join the clean-up. Shortly after the Tidy Towns group was formally established, my wife and I both joined the committee (Mary as the first chairperson and me as clean-up coordinator, I took over as chairperson one year ago). Joining Tidy Towns was a great way to get to know people in Dun Laoghaire. The clean-ups were very rewarding, even if frustrating to see how much litter is discarded in most Irish large towns. Tidy Towns is a great way to be integrated and involved in a community”.

Brian also mentioned the need for a lot more volunteers and someone to actively manage their social media. There has been a shortage of volunteers since the end of COVID. Brian did mention the help of the TY students as well;” One of our success stories is the involvement of transition year students. We have formal arrangements with two colleges (Newpark and Coláiste Íosagáin) and individual students from other schools often attend. We have up to 15 TY students each Tuesday”. I think it’s great that people volunteer their time and effort and give back to their local community.

I think giving back to your community is necessary, as they have given so much to you. I encourage people reading this to try get involved with their local Tidy Towns as it is a very rewarding experience that brings you closer to your community.