How to Plan a Community Clean Up

Area of expertise: Toolkits & Guides
Type: Toolkit

How to organise a clean-up where you live

Whether you want to get rid of fly-tipped rubbish, bring a neglected patch of grassland back to life or clean up a canal, we have got a handy list of tips to help you get the job done and some ideas on how you can get other people involved.

It’s good to talk

Perhaps you want to spruce up your local park, or give a well-known dumping ground a make over – whatever you have in mind, you will need to talk to other people and get them on board to help you.

Start off by asking the people who live near you and the area you plan to target. It’s likely they feel the same as you do about the spot; they were just waiting for someone to come up with a decent plan. Ask your friends and family for help – they will find it harder to say no to you, and also try local community organisations and the local neighbourhood police, who might have time and tools to help you.

Assess the problem

Take a walk around the area you have identified and make a list of all the things that need attention. Some of these things may be possible for you to tackle, others may need professional help. Taking a couple of other people with you on the walk can be useful, as they can point out things you might miss.

Whose land is it anyway?

Before you start getting people organised and planning the details of the event, you need to know who owns the land and get their permission to have a clean-up. This can be done by carrying out a land registry search, getting in touch with the council if it’s a park or speaking to the Canal and River Trust if it’s on the water.

It’s all in the planning

When you have decided what you want to clean up and where, you can start planning how you will get it all done.

In the unlikely event that you find syringes or other drug paraphernalia during your clean-up, we strongly recommend that your volunteers do not attempt to move or dispose of them. You will need to contact the council team on 020 8825 5000 and report what you have found and they will arrange for someone to come and safely dispose of them.

Identify any items that could be recycled or re-used. Things like garden waste, weeds etc. can be collected in separate bags to say cans and bottles – that way we can reduce the rubbish going into black bags and reuse and recycle as much as we can.  Avoid mixing up the materials as it makes it easier for them to be sorted and recycled. You can contact the council’s recycling team to check if they can help with collecting the things collected. It’s best to give them as much notice as possible to allow the refuse contractors to make suitable arrangements.

Think about how many people you will actually need on the day of the clean-up. Too few and your team of helpers will be exhausted and may not get everything done, but too many can end up with people in the way.

Tools, trades people and time

The next step is to get as many of the right people to your event. Think about what equipment you are going to need including ladders, the amount of paint and power tools – but also think about the people involved that have the skills and where necessary, the training to use them.

Also think about how much time your volunteers have to offer. There is no point planning an eight hour clean-up if your volunteers can only give you four hours. You may have to approach your clean-up in stages.

Money, money, money

Depending on the size of your project, you may need to consider applying for some funding to help with the costs, buy additional equipment or for things like plants and paints to spruce up the area once it is cleaner. Check out the funding pages on Bubble for suitable funding.

You could also try speaking to local businesses and schools. They may be able to offer financial help, equipment or free refreshments for your team of helpers on the day of the event. It all helps.

Clean-up and stay safe

It is really important to have considered the safety of the people helping with the clean-up and that you are aware of your legal responsibilities. You should consider hazards and points of possible concern including the environment and the ages and levels of health of your volunteers before your event.

We strongly recommend that you carry out a full risk assessment to identify safety issues and potential hazards. Here is short list of things you will need to also consider:

  • Give your volunteers a full induction, introducing them to the project and making it clear to them what you expect from them. Identify where they need to go if they need help during the event
  • Have a qualified first aider present
  • Make sure your volunteers are wearing appropriate clothing, including protective clothing if they need it.
  • Check whether your  event may need public liability insurance

It sounds simple but…

Make sure your volunteers know where to meet, when and who to ask for when they arrive. This is even more important when your event is along a canal or in a park – they might spend half their time trying to find you.

Keeping your volunteers well fed and watered is essential to keeping their energy and spirits up throughout the clean-up. If this does not fit in your budget, then ask them to bring it with them in advance.

Last but not least, toilets. Some clean-ups can take all day, so it’s important you can identify some local public toilets for the volunteers to use. You may get lucky and speak to a local café or restaurant whose management are happy to provide teas and coffees for you and also let your volunteers use their facilities. But it is good to know where the nearest public toilets are anyway. 

If you would like to talk through your ideas or have any questions, please call 020 8825 5000 or email and one of our helpful officers will be in touch. 

Once you have this all sorted you – you’ll be ready to clean and convert that once un-loved space into something you and the people living nearby can enjoy.


How to Plan a Community Clean Up.pdf | 307K |