Changemaker Charlize and sidekick puppy Rainbow Dash's concerns over littering and lockdown

Charlize Rainbow Dash and Stephen McPartland

Charlize Church and her sidekick, Rainbow Dash, had a meeting with Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, to voice concerns over littering, smoking and the pandemic - Credit: Julia Church

A six-year-old campaigner from Stevenage secured a meeting with our MP to discuss the issues that matter to her - and others of her age.

Charlize Church has been writing to MP Stephen McPartland, as well as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock. She has asked them to impose change around littering - particularly of face masks - and public smoking, and raising awareness about how the lockdowns have affected schoolchildren. 

The young changemaker's attention was turned to certain issues during her time home-schooling over the various lockdowns.

Charlize and Stephen McPartland

Charlize believes it's easy for litter to fall out of bins, and some smokers using the top of bins as an ashtray adds to the problem - Credit: Julia Church

When on her daily walk with beloved puppy, Rainbow Dash, she noticed more and more litter around Fairlands Valley Park, where the pair frequent - particularly face masks.

Charlize's letter

Charlize used her time in lockdown to try to change the littering problem in Stevenage - Credit: Church

She said in her letter to the PM and Matt Hancock: "I have a German Shepherd puppy and her name is Rainbow Dash. She came to my family during the pandemic.

"One day she picked a dirty mask up from a street. I had to take it out of her mouth. I made an investigation on where dirty masks come from."

Charlize's letter

Charlize and Rainbow Dash found discarded masks in Stevenage - Credit: Julia

Charlize and Stephen

MP Stephen McPartland met with Charlize to talk about her findings when it came to litter, and her experience with the pandemic - Credit: Julia Church

The St Francis College pupil found most of the dirty masks she came across that had been littered were in streets, woods and near bus stops, and that they were usually blue and white. 

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She concluded that people threw or dropped masks when getting off the bus - with some not having a bin nearby.

She also spoke to Mr McPartland about adults smoking in public areas and using the tops of bins to stub out cigarettes, and how that impacts small children walking past at eye level.

Charlize and Stephen McPartland

Charlize and Stephen McPartland - Credit: Julia Church

Stephen McPartland said: "It was wonderful to meet Charlize and Rainbow Dash. We had a very detailed discussion and Charlize kindly played her violin for me.

"Topics ranged from the impact on COVID of family overseas visiting her across to how we can all do more every day to support the more isolated members of our community.

"Like me, she is passionate about keeping our town tidy and wants more bins, emptied more often and used more mindfully by us all.

"Whether it is disposing of a used mask or still smoking cigarette that can blow off the top of a bin and hurt Rainbow Dash. I was very impressed and will be taking some of her ideas up locally and nationally.

"I look forward to inviting her to Parliament for an update when we are allowed visitors again."

Charlize added: "It was fun talking to Stephen, he was nice."

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