We have five themes:
• Local Environment
• Food Security
• Fuel Poverty
• Mental Health
How Darkwood Crew Started
The community were dissatisfied with fly tipping, anti-social behaviour and badly maintained green spaces. Residents discussed these issues at the Community Council, where the local environment was our ultimate concern. We set up “Pals of the Privies”, a volunteer group to take care of the green space known as the Privies. Full scale regeneration went ahead to remove fly tipping and decrease anti-social behaviour. Community consultations led to provision of benches and pathways to improve accessibility. The project grew when a local resident chatted to one of the team, asking when work started on the next park..!
Our Community Action
Litter picking is done by volunteers who collect rubbish and recycle it. Through a partnership with Sainsbury we trade tins and plastic bottles for money, which we use for community meals. We have all but eradicated local litter, and served over 1000 locally prepared three-course meals from the money raised. This has also helped with isolation, mental health and food poverty in the area.
We partnered with Co-op and Greggs to collect surplus food for a community market. People come and take what they want from the market. With messaging that we're saving all of this food from landfill, we remove the awkwardness of asking for help, tilting food poverty on its head. It's a place where people can meet, socialise and collect food to help the environment. Despite all we were giving away, there was a surplus of surplus so we went a step further to provide hand-cooked meals from our chest freezer at the market. These are especially useful for people who might live alone or suffer from isolation.
The Pandemic Arrives
Lockdown hit, so Darkwood Crew had to change the way we work. The volunteers packed surplus food into a minivan for a 11,491 mile journey. So far, we have delivered food to over 3,500 homes, handing out 8,425 food parcels as of February 2021, preventing 15.27 tonnes of food going to landfill. This total is growing.
On our delivery route, we noticed domestic rubbish, fly tipping and abandoned appliances. This sparked a new initiative, and we began collecting appliances on our rounds, ensuring they work, and offering them to the community. Fridges and washing machines are snapped up in seconds. We also remind people about bin day and promote the council's email alerts, to help combat the problem.
Darkwood Crew aim to meet the needs of the community as they happen, putting the Ferguslie community at the heart of environmental action.
Don’t give up. Tidying up once a fortnight might seem futile when the mess returns a fortnight later but the more you get out there, the more visible you become. People will notice that their local community is taking action and they'll start to litter less, or even offer their help.
Improving the environment can feel lonely, but there are often lots of people who share your views and just don't know where to start. All it takes is you. Our first litter pick had 45 attendees, which was a reaffirming surprise – we would have been pleased to see 5-6 people.
Explaining that 1.2 metric tonnes of carbon has been saved doesn't really mean much. By making it relevant to our daily lives and community, people are much more likely to get involved, notice the benefits, and inspire others. If people know they get a three-course meal in return for their recycling, or that if they contact us their appliance will go to good use in the community, the real benefits are clear.