A Harrogate-based charity has relaunched its programme of countryside activities by carrying out a litter picking Spring clean.

‘Open Country’ leads activities to help people with a disability or mental health problem access and enjoy the countryside.

The charity’s Nature Force group undertake various conservation projects to help increase biodiversity and improve access across Yorkshire and has already carried out a day of litter picking around Knaresborough and Calcutt.

Sally Hobson, Countryside Activities Officer at Open Country, says:

“We are so pleased to be able to get back out there together with our members after a long lockdown. They love getting involved in worthwhile projects which help the countryside and litter picking is a tangible way for them to make a real difference in the community. It is great that so many more people have accessed the outdoors during lockdown, but the result of that is more litter than ever in grass verges and woodland.

“The Nature Force group picked up an incredible 12 bags of litter in just four hours in an area stretching from the Knaresborough Lido to Calcutt. What’s great for the environment is also great for our mental and physical health. Being outdoors offers us solace and time to unwind, refresh and refuel, which we all need after such a period of confinement.”

Open Country’s efforts will count towards the ‘Million Mile Mission’ pledge from this year’s Great British Spring Clean which encourages people to pick up litter in their local area.

Despite having to pause most of its activities during lockdown, Open Country has been supporting its members at home over the past 12 months through online events, befriending calls and nature-based activities. The charity has created new ways of engaging people with the outdoors including creating Audio Walks and sharing ideas for welcoming nature into your garden.

As well as its Nature Force group, the charity runs activities throughout the week including walking, cycling, wildlife watching and outings, supported by Open Country staff and its team of volunteers. For more information about becoming a member or volunteer with Open Country visit www.opencountry.org.uk

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