Liverpool may have been shaken by the riots in parts of the city at the start of this week, but the clean-up campaign which immediately got into swing has demonstrated the very best of Scouse community spirit.
The riots were said, in part, to be fuelled by social networking sites, but one Liverpool resident decided to put Facebook to good use after the disturbances, to help get the city back on its feet.
Charles Jupiter quickly turned to Facebook to organise a clean-up of Liverpool in the wake of the damage inflicted on his home town, and its success was instant as an army of volunteers turned up with brushes to sweep away the debris. His group now has more than 800 members.
Although Wednesday and Thursday were relatively
peaceful nights on Merseyside after riots on Monday
and Tuesday, Charles is adamant that even if the
troubles persist, the thugs will not win.
He told JMU Journalism: “If there are riots for a month
we’ll be out here every day for a month and a day.”
That ethos is shared by the Liverpool Clean-up
campaigners, and Charles, who describes himself as
Scouse through and through, told JMU Journalism what
motivated him to take action: “I was thinking ‘I wouldn't
let this happen in my front room, why would I let it
happen on my streets?’.
“Also, I felt I needed to prove that young people and
social networking can be used for decent things as
well as looting and violence.”
Since then the Clean-up leader has attracted a lot of
media attention, including appearances on Sky News
and BBC News. He admitted: “I had no idea it would take off in such a way, it span out of my control really fast with local radio, councillors, popular tweeters and local businesses reposting and plugging the event.
“I realised that I wasn't the only one with a bit of pride in my city. The idea for the Clean-up was partly from wanting to prove that us youths can do something good with social networks, which my mother deemed impossible, and partly to do with wanting to look after my city.”
Charles, a 21-year-old bartender who works in the city centre, told JMU Journalism he felt “disappointed and annoyed” when he first found out about rioters causing destruction in Liverpool.
Areas where his large band of volunteers cleared up included Smithdown Road, Grove Street, Lawrence Road and Lodge Lane in South Liverpool.
He said: “It really felt like people had banded together for something bigger than themselves... their city. It was varied groups coming together to help out with the damage that had been done. Local and chain businesses helped out in many ways, from free refreshments to donating cleaning supplies. People literally from all over the world have been offering support in one way or another.
"I'd go as far as to say it was almost a total success, the only things that couldn't be done were the
burnt-out cars that couldn't be moved by us. They had to be left for forensics.”
Merseyside Police will maintain their large presence on the streets in the hope of preventing further outbreaks of violence, but even if they occur, the Liverpool Clean-up campaigners will be there in the morning, battling to prove that the best of human nature will prevail in the end.
EXCLUSIVE by Helen Dodd, Website Editor
Liverpool riots 2011 stories
Charles Jupiter started a Facebook clean-up campaign that brought people out onto the city's streets