For Brighton to become carbon neutral we need to mobilise the spirit of our volunteers

Nancy Platts, leader of the Labour Group on Brighton and Hove City Council. Photograph: Michael Crabtree
Nancy Platts, leader of the Labour Group on Brighton and Hove City Council. Photograph: Michael Crabtree

Most Saturdays you can find me volunteering alongside other hi-vis heroes at our parkrun in East Brighton Park.

This is just one of six local parkruns hosting more than 1,000 runners, managed week in, week out by a team of around 100 volunteers.

But we are not the only hi-vis heroes in the city. Quietly emerging from the undergrowth, brandishing torn plastic bags, sweet wrappers and discarded tobacco pouches, is a new band of highly effective Tidy Up Team volunteers.

Armed with snappy litter pickers and protective gloves, they are determined to help our grounds maintenance teams keep our estates, parks and open spaces looking neat and tidy. I’ve been joining in on the Bristol Estate and it is amazing what you find – last week a pink canoe and this week a brand new shoe.

Walk by the Clock Tower on a Sunday lunchtime, you will see the volunteers of the Street Kitchen in action. Run by Sussex Homeless Support, they serve up hot food, tea and coffee as well as offering clothes and toiletries to homeless people and rough sleepers.

Our Healthwalks scheme has been incredibly successful – all walks led by trained volunteer walk leaders. So, if you want to join others in a circuit of Preston Park, a stroll along the seafront, or up and over Whitehawk Hill come along, all the walks are absolutely free.

While you’re on the Downs, you may run into our sheep lookerers, checking our grazing livestock are safe and well. Come into the community rooms and churches, you will find people volunteering as befrienders, helping at foodbanks and giving people advice.

Our volunteering force is always there, come rain or shine, helping others, putting something back into the community.

Volunteers’ Week is celebrated between June 1 and 7 each year. I would like to add my own personal thank you to all our volunteers, for contributing to the health and well-being of our city.

This spirit shown by our volunteers, working for people not profit is the spirit we need to mobilise to meet the challenge of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.