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Seaham beach clean (May 2022)

Colleagues from our Development and Alumni Relations Office at Seaham beach.

As a team building exercise and to welcome one of our new colleagues, we decided to put some of our volunteering hours to good use by doing a beach clean at Seaham. We were met by Louise from the Seascape scheme who brought the litter pickers, bags and lots of energy. She informed us that it was just a short walk down to the shore, which it was… in the form of a near vertical drop. Risking life and limb, we clambered, slid and fell down the path and once we reached the bottom and assessed each other for broken bones, it was time to get on with cleaning up County Durham.

Initially the beach didn’t seem too littered, and we doubted that we would be able to fill a single bag. However, once you started looking, it was surprising how much you could find and how blind we’ve become to our environment.

We spread out across the beach, some of the braver members of the team investigated near the cliff edge and the bunker. We quickly realised that we needed the additional bags that had been brought as bag after bag of plastic and rubbish were being filled. It was a sobering moment to think that without volunteers engaging in these projects, the beaches could quickly become a waste ground and unusable for the public and a danger to wildlife.

It was also a sobering moment to realise that all of these 16 bags, a crate of waste (and ourselves) had to somehow navigate back up the ‘path’. Some members of the team selflessly volunteered to go back up the near vertical track to transport the mass of rubbish. We decided to take the scenic route up the steps at the other end of the beach, convinced that we’d make it back first… we were wrong. Thankfully, the Rubbish Gods were smiling on us, and we arrived back in time to throw them in the waste collection van.

Colleagues from our Development and Alumni Relations Office at Seaham beach.

The weather wasn’t the warmest, but we all worked up quite a sweat, which meant that we needed to cool down afterwards with a chilled beverage and to refuel with food. It was at this point that we learned that our new colleague does not share food, as a matter of principle. Despite this revelation, it was an ideal way to welcome a new member of the team. Though we did have to point out that WFB (working from the beach) is not part of our standard working model. It was an excellent opportunity not only for team building but also to catch up as Covid-19 had meant that the team hadn’t been together in some time.

We’re very much looking forward to the next team volunteer day.

Find out more

  • All colleagues can volunteer for up to 5 days per year, during working hours, to engage with a range of local community organisations that benefit from working in partnership with the University. Visit our website to find out more.
  • There are many ways you can help preserve our heritage coastline, including litter picks, joining an archaeology dig and monitoring our fragile coastal habitats. Visit the Seascapes website for more information.
  • If you’re interesting in sharing your story, visit our Submit a blog or vlog page to learn more.