THOUSANDS INSPIRED TO CLEAN UP THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITIES BY BWB ENGINEER
07 April 2017
Thousands of people across Greece have cleared up their local communities at a nationwide event co-ordinated by a UK-based BWB engineer. Anastasios Stamatis, who works at BWB in Birmingham, was part of the team who organised Sunday’s “Let’s Do It Greece” environmental clean-up day.
Volunteers from 3,500 organisations cleared waste, planted trees and refurbished areas to improve public spaces, forests, beaches and buildings across 1,500 locations. While the number of people involved is still being counted, it is expected to top 100,000 which is the biggest ever turnout for the annual event.
Anastasios and his fellow students originally launched Let’s Do It Greece in 2011 when he lived in his home-city of Athens. He explained: “In the summer of 2009 the Hymettus mountain which overlooks the city suffered a devastating fire which burnt all the greenery leaving it black and charred. My friends and I wanted to do something to rectify the situation and help improve the local environment.”
“We discovered that in 2008 Estonia had brought the country together to clean it up in a single day under the name Let’s Do It so we decided to do the same in Greece. As we were only 20-years-old at the time we learnt as we went along, using social media to find people like us throughout the country. We were surprised to see how many people responded positively and wanted to be part of this new volunteering family.”
The first Let’s Do It Greece day took place in April 2012 and has been held annually ever since, growing bigger in scale each year. When Anastasios moved to the UK in 2014 he wanted to remain involved and he's continued to play a pivotal role by utilising email, social media and the telephone to co-ordinate the strategy remotely. He attends the organisation’s annual summit in Athens each October and travels to Greece to volunteer on the day itself.
On Sunday Anastasios attended the central clean-up event at the Hymettus mountain which had caught fire once again in 2015. With the help of the local authority more than 2,500 volunteers came together and planted 2,500 trees and aromatic herbs, painted an outdoor theatre and restored a public fountain to working order which had been closed for 40 years. It has now become a space where people go to relax and have fun.
Reflecting on this year’s event Anastasios said: “People from across Greece have surpassed themselves this year. We’ve seen a wave of creativity, passion and joy from everyone involved. It is the result of a year's effort for the team and local co-ordinators all over Greece. It started as a clean-up but people were willing to make places more beautiful and to take ownership and responsibility for their local public spaces.”
The team are already planning for next year’s event and with the Let’s Do It movement spreading worldwide are preparing for the first World Clean Up Day on September 15th 2018. Anastasios and the team have also been invited to attend next week’s Stakeholder forum of the newly formed European Solidarity Corps in Brussels. The organisation is a new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work on projects that benefit people and communities across the continent.
Anastasios said: “We're excited to be attending the forum as it's an opportunity for us to meet and share knowledge with like-minded peers all over Europe. Volunteering is addictive - it’s the joy of offering something to another human being and making an impact on people’s lives. Lets Do It Greece is run exclusively by volunteers who give their best, every day, to become the change we are all waiting for. We're proud to be members in a big family of volunteers, a family that reflects the bright side of Greece, people of all ages, backgrounds, social groups, working together to make a big, positive change in our lives.
“Being involved in such a great extent would not have been possible without the support I have from BWB, where work-life balance and the well-rounded development of people’s skills is on top of the agenda. I’d like to thank BWB for helping me pursue my personal goals and keep making a difference in my country.”
For more details on the worldwide Let’s Do It initiatives, please visit www.letsdoitworld.org/