A total of 66 bags of ancient rubbish, including large objects such as a mattress, tyres and an old toaster were unearthed from the woodland and brook.

The Walney Road Woodland is a relatively small forest area situated in the middle of a residential area in Sharston, Wythenshawe. The urban greenspace is home to lots of happy memories from the local community, with older residents recalling how they used to play in the woods when they were kids.

Groundwork have been actively working in the area throughout 2022 as part of the Resilient River Valleys project. Recently, the team received a call for support from residents and colleagues at Manchester City Council, explaining that the area had become a hot spot for out of area fly-tipping. The community were upset to see such a brilliant green space turn into a dumping site.

Volunteer-led community group Wythenshawe Waste Warriors were already aware of the challenge and were keen to work with others to clean things up. On further inspection, the team identified that the neighbouring brook was clogged up at several points, reducing the flow of the water and creating stagnant dirty sections. This prohibited any wildlife from accessing the brook or surrounding embankments. Equally, the woodland space was littered with rubbish.

On Tuesday the 9th of August, colleagues from Groundwork Greater Manchester, City of Trees, Manchester City Council, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group joined Wythenshawe Waste Warriors gathered for clean-up day. Residents in the surrounding area came out in waves to express their support and help in the clean-up operation.

Barney from Wythenshawe Waste Warriors explains why this was so important for the community:

It seems a shame for this garden city to be full of litter; trolleys, mattresses, and countless other things. Those of us who remember, and fortunately there’s quite a lot of the school children realising too, this could be so much better if it didn’t have the litter in it. We often hear ‘Oh the council should do it’ or ‘other groups should do it’ – but the money’s not there at the moment. We at Wythenshawe Warriors have taken it upon ourselves to start doing something, to start improving the place.

After a full day of cleaning the entire woodland space and de-clogging the brook, the group of volunteers cleared out 66 bags of rubbish, alongside an array of larger objects such as a mattress, tyres, an old toaster and TV, discarded chairs and much more.

Not only was the clean-up day necessary to improve the flow of the river and enhance the safety of the natural environment, it has provided opportunity for the community to start accessing the woodland again. Whilst the group were loading the big bags into the container, children started running into the forest, watching the water flow down the brook and enjoying a space they may have not used in a long time.

Herbie, a local resident who lived across the road from the woodland, said:

We’re extremely grateful to have you all here today to help us clean up this space. Isn’t it nice when people walking past thank you for the work you have done – the fact they really are appreciative.

Groundwork Greater Manchester and the Resilient River Valleys partners will be working with local providers to ensure this space is not only maintained but celebrated amongst the community for years to come.