Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins talks 21st century volunteering problems and a pet hate...

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins shares his views in his weekly Comet column.

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins shares his views in his weekly Comet column. - Credit: Archant

I’m reminded by the latest Hitchin Forum newsletter of the difficulties facing so many community organisations in planning succession.

Bill Sellicks writes that with people working increasingly into their 70s, groups must recognise that they can no longer afford to rely on the recently-retired to take on roles which can at times feel more like a full-time job!

Chairman retirees have other interests and commitments as well, with foreign travel often being a favourite. Younger members with full-time careers and maybe families are understandably cautious in making commitments to regular meetings – particularly evenings after a hard day’s commute.

The need for helpers in other areas is apparent from the number of volunteer vacancy ads that are appearing in the various charity shop windows.

The great thing about Hitchin Forum is that it spawns many smaller interest groups to deal specifically with planning, transport, aspects of the environment including footpaths, litter, air pollution and congestion – so there are opportunities to get involved with as little or as much as you want, and much of the work these days is done via email and social media.

Talking of litter, Hitchin Forum are leading the Big Hitchin Spring Clean on Sunday, May 7, from 10am until 12 noon all around the town.

Last year more than 100 volunteers joined in across parks, recreation grounds, streets, verges and rivers to collect nearly 90 black bags filled with rubbish, which the council took away.

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Schools, clubs, uniformed and other community groups have joined in previously and have been invited again with more volunteers welcome who can nominate areas that they want to clear.

For more details or to offer help, email litter@hitchinforum.org.uk.

Which brings me on to my pet litter hate – chewing gum! This is such an old chestnut – it’s been an issue in the public domain longer than Churchgate, and not just here in Hitchin but across the country.

For example, back in 2010 when Boris was Mayor of London he pledged to clean up the capital ready for the Olympics.

The entire length of just Oxford Street took three months to clear, and more than 300,000 individual pieces were removed at a cost of between 50p and £2 for each bit!

Maybe I should proclaim on the side of a bus how much could be invested in the NHS if all gum was disposed of considerately! I’m hopeful that North Herts District Council will be able to get some funding for at least an annual clearance or to part-fund with Hitchin BID.

To find out more about the work of Hitchin Initiative and Hitchin BID give Keith a call on 01462 453335 or email info@hitchinherts.com

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