Community Clean-Up Day at Festival Gardens

Posted on: 21 September 2022 in Issue 3

The University of Liverpool, Liverpool City Council (Gardens) and St Michaels Councillors teamed up to organise a Volunteer Community Clean Up Day at the Liverpool Festival Gardens back in August.

Originally created for the International Garden Festival in 1984, and later part of Pleasure Island attraction, Liverpool Festival Gardens re-opened in 2012 as Liverpool's newest public park. Featuring Chinese and Japanese gardens, Moon Wall, Children's Play area, Forest Walk and waterways, the Park was in need of some tender loving care. 

The main focus of the day was litter picking, clearing away debris along paths and communal seating areas, clearing weeds and overgrowth along pathways, walls and gates and painting gates, seating areas and fences. Over 60 people attended, mostly University staff, using over 150 staff volunteer hours, and members of the local St Michaels community. 

 “I regularly walk my dog through Festival Gardens and noticed that the area was becoming overgrown and neglected” says Darren Mooney, Diversity and Equality Officer at the University. “Earlier this year the Diversity and Equality Team did a Beech Clean at New Brighton, so building on that, I thought it would be a good idea to organise a community clean-up day for the Festival Gardens, and to widen out the activity to any member of staff who wanted to join.” The University encourages staff to give their time to support local charities and initiatives through the Liv to Give volunteering framework. All members of staff can use three paid workdays a year for volunteering and this community clean-up day provided a great opportunity to get away from the desk, meet new people and contribute to creating a cleaner, more sustainable planet.  

”The council offered to provide the equipment, and agreed to organise the event and recruit the volunteers,” adds Darren. “Originally, I expected to get around 20 people, but ended up with nearly 90 people booked on. Usually you get around a 30% drop out for free-to-attend events, so I planned to have around 50 people. 60 people attended over the course of the day which was fantastic, and we were really lucky with the weather.” 

One of those volunteers was Suzie Thompson, Director of Development and Alumni Relations. “It was lovely to take part, along with several colleagues from my team,” she says. “It was a fantastic opportunity to see colleagues in real life, get time away from the screen and do something which will, hopefully, make a positive difference to people who use the park. It’s amazing what you can achieve with an army of volunteers, I couldn’t believe the difference we saw in just a few hours. I came home covered in bramble scratches but it was well worth it.” 

The team of volunteers focussed on four main areas of the gardens, the main entrance on Riverside Drive, the Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden and area around the main lake, and the main staircase up into the woodland trail, plus two specific features, the Moon Door, and the children’s play area, covering around a third of the site.  

By the end of the day, the volunteers had gathered three skips worth of rubbish and green waste.  

 “Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the community clean up,” says Darren. “So much effort was put in, and you could clearly see the impact of the work across the park and I know members of the public gave positive comments and feedback to a number of those in attendance.” 

Julie Griffiths from Facilities, Residential and Commercial Services adds:  “I worked on the Garden Festival in 1983, when I was a member of the Rural Preservation Society).  We built a nature garden and I got the train from Kirkdale to St Michaels every Saturday to work on it, so it was wonderful to relive those days and make an impact all these years later.” 

Community clean-ups can help to boost the economy and protect the environment at the same time. Waste pollution is one of the biggest threats facing our oceans, rivers, and public spaces, and clean-up events can help protect wildlife, and raise public awareness of the threat of litter to both wildlife and communities. 

Simple acts, such as recycling plastic, paper and glass waste can have a big impact on the environment. Picking up litter on the daily commute to and from work can really make a difference to public spaces. Small decisions can have big results and they all start with the individual. So please play your part. 

If you are interested in joining a Friends of Festival gardens group, email, who pass on details to the St Michaels councillor team who are leading on this. 

Find out more 

Members of staff should visit the Liv to Give intranet site for more information on volunteering.  

Students can volunteer with the Guild and get involved with litter picking and other activities, such as beekeeping, gardening and food growing, swap shop, student switch off ambassadors, sustainability champions and much more. Check out the Guild’s website for a wide range of volunteering opportunities and information.