Northern Ireland’s largest community and civic pride initiative, Live Here Love Here, is calling for volunteers to play their part in cleaning up local beaches this Saturday and Sunday (September 18-19).
The big weekend event marks the start of its annual Healthy Oceans, Healthy Minds campaign, in partnership with Belfast Harbour, which promotes the health and wellbeing benefits of a clean marine and coastal environment.
Helen Tomb, of Live Here Love Here says: “People know they feel better when they’re near the sea, but the benefit is hugely reduced by the presence of litter, which upsets people and makes them really angry.
“We’ve seen that taking direct action enables people to channel those feelings positively.
“Volunteering, even for a day, enables people to do their bit, meet new friends and gives everyone a real lift. It’s tremendously satisfying.
“After last year’s lockdowns and virtual format for our campaign, it’ll be really exciting to see people in person this year!”
The cleanup is the first date in a calendar of activities and events which will run until September 28 and is timed to coincide with the annual increase in coastal litter after the summer season.
It forms part of a coordinated global volunteer effort to remove and record litter from local lakes, waterways, beaches and the sea.
Ocean Conservancy, the marine campaigning charity which is spearheading the International Coastal Clean Up initiative, is keen to remind potential volunteers of the central role the world’s oceans play in all of our lives, saying “the ocean produces half the air we breathe every day, the food we eat and the water we drink”.
Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager, Belfast Harbour, comments: “This initiative is so important to us as we continue with our ambition to be a green port.
“It also aligns with Belfast Harbour’s Clean Air, Clean Water and Biodiversity agendas, aimed at reducing the use of single use plastic and continuing initiatives to improve the water quality in Belfast Lough.
“Realising these green ambitions will be only possible through partnerships so our collaboration with Live Here Love Here on this year’s Healthy Oceans, Healthy Minds wellbeing campaign is a really important opportunity for us.
“It is crucial that we continue to educate people on alternative choices and habits that they can adopt to help protect our seas and waterways from further damage and pollution.”
To get involved, volunteers should create a profile and register their events on the Live Here Love Here app.
n The 2021 Healthy Oceans, Healthy Minds programme will offer a schedule of informative and community events.
n More information can be found at liveherelovehere.org