Youngsters at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Radcliffe were so concerned about the environment that they contacted the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
And they were delighted when Mr Burnham accepted, and joined Year 6 students, Year 6 teacher Katie Dunne and teaching assistant Michelle Dent, and officers of Bury Council for a Question and Answer session and a litter-pick at the school.
The pupils talked about the actions they had taken at school, such as litter-picking, cutting back on single-use plastic, speaking to local businesses, recycling and reducing waste, being part of Forest Schools and creating green areas within the school.
Mr Burnham then accompanied them on a tour and took part in a litter-pick around the school and was joined by the Mayor of Bury, Councillor Trevor Holt; Dave Brown (interim director of operations) and Talat Afzal (recycling and sustainability officer) from Bury Council. Later on an extended litter pick took place which included a newly formed community group, Radcliffe Litter Heroes, covering Redbank fields and near Radcliffe Boro FC. Together they collected 40 bags of litter and recyclables, from plastic bottles and crisp packets to a broken bollard and a chair cushion.
Mr Burnham spoke about the work being done by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to make Greater Manchester a leading green city-region including setting the ambitious target of reducing its carbon emissions to net zero by 2038, 12 years sooner than the national target of 2050.
He said: “Greater Manchester has an ambitious aim to become the UK’s leading green-city region and we recently set our plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2038 – well ahead of the national target. To see young people, whose lives will be affected most if we don’t tackle climate change, taking the responsibility to make changes and support our city-region’s drive towards carbon neutrality is fantastic.”
The mayor has agreed to attend a Bury Schools Environmental Conference later this year, and asked St Mary’s to become the first single-use plastic-free school in Greater Manchester – a challenge they accepted!
The pupils told Mr Burnham that they had also written to Sir David Attenborough, Prime Minister Theresa May and environment secretary Michael Gove about their concerns.
Year 6 teacher Katie Dunne said: “Neither I nor the children could have imagined how big our project would become. The children have pricked the conscience of lots of important people this year and have realised how powerful their young voices are. It has been fantastic exposing them to experiences such as the Manchester Green Summit, debates at the town hall and now a visit from Andy Burnham with a challenge to become the first, plastic free school in the borough - it really has been amazing!"
Councillor Alan Quinn, cabinet member for the environment, added: “We need to take urgent action to protect our planet for our children and their children. To see our young people getting the message at such an early age inspires confidence that we can all make the difference that is needed. The council has declared a climate emergency, in part prompted by children who have voiced their concerns, and we are determined to act.”
Press release issued: 23 July 2019.
Picture: Andy Burnham and the Mayor of Bury, Cllr Trevor Holt, join the pupils at St Mary’s Primary School in a clean-up.