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Dorchester 22nd June 2020.

On that lovely sunny Monday we met at 10.30am, 6 young people from across Dorset and 3 youth workers from Space Youth Project took on the Maumbury rings litter.

A pleasant wander around, yes, we were socially distanced but that didn’t stop the singing, jokes and giggles, there was a cornucopia of weird and wonderful litter to keep us all wondering and amused!

A two-hour effort from everyone revealed a much cleaner and even more pleasant Maumbury rings. Finally we finished with a picnic of Pizza and fizzy drinks on the grass much to everyone’s delight.

Below is a report by one of our young people who tells the story so much better.

Coronavirus may have cancelled everything and everyone’s plans - Pride, Glastonbury, even the British Soap Awards (now we’ll never know how many awards Coronation Street would have won) - but it seems litter prevails through it all. Either people don’t care about coronavirus and still went out, or people don’t care about Dorchester and have been doing this for a while. My bet’s on both.

However, as much litter there was, there were a handful willing volunteers to take on the beast that’s been festering in the grass for longer than time itself. Leaving the comfort of their sofas, gaming consoles and online streaming services (Netflix waits for no one), they adorned their masks and gloves - latex or thick cloth - before picking out bags and pickers, ready to do some good.

Now, it’s no surprise to anyone that England is a wet place - as I write this, it’s raining - and the park in Maumbury has a colossal mound. Despite an assumed Coca-Cola can being one of the many little litter treasures to try siren-calling us up the slope, we knew we weren’t allowed to climb it.

Many things were collected that luckily hot day, and all seemed to tell their own story. At first, there was not much else than feathers and too-large-for-liking wood chunks, but the further we walked, the stranger our finds. Cigarette butts, not the strangest to find; broken, rounded metal pieces that were at first assumed to be the insides of a tennis ball; foil squeezed into tight balls; even certain sorts of recreational paraphernalia, with an emphasis on creation, considering the bizarre things we found - you might even call it recycling. A pair were even lucky to profit monetarily off the whole thing, finding seventy pence in the whole fiasco.

Despite the lockdown, there were people around, but they mostly kept their distance, of course, although at one point a man walked up to the group with a glass Coca-Cola (it always seems to be coke, huh?) bottle, thanking us for what we were doing.

Besides the obscure things we found, there wasn’t really much to collect, at least in comparison to the park’s neighbour - walking by the metal fences could cause jealousy as you walked past mounds upon mounds of litter, just out of reach. Damn private property.

The Ray of Sunshine Award was created in July 2019 by Sarah Grayer FRSA, who was Space Youth Project Manager until she sadly left Space to work in Devon. Sarah became a Trustee for Space and still works on some projects and helps deliver our training workshops.

Sarah says “The Ray of Sunshine award is presented annually to the young person who has overcome adversity and contributed most to their group.”

Each year all group leaders are asked to nominate their Ray of Sunshine nominee to the deciding committee who then decide the overall winner to receive the trophy for the next year. All nominees get a

recognition certificate of their commitment and the outstanding work they have done for their group.

The first Space Youth Project Ray of Sunshine was awarded in July 2019 to Jodie Collins from Poole group. Jodie is now a volunteer at our T-Group as well as being a current member of Space. She wanted to gain a greater understanding of working and supporting young people around gender identity and continues to be an ardent supporter of Space and all our young people.

2020's winner is CJ Ricketts who is a

regular part of Dorchester group, pictured below with the award. As well as being part of Space Youth Project, CJ also works tirelessly with Participation People where he helps to train professionals working in the care system. He also helps with the Corporate Parenting Board and recently met and spoke with Jacob Rees Mogg and Richard Drax when they visited Dorset on a fact finding mission!

CJ was delighted to receive the award, and expressed surprise when he learnt the award was Dorset wide as he thought it was just a Dorchester thing.

Well done CJ, now we wonder who will be 2021s Ray of Sunshine!

Space Youth Project would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Aster who raised £210 for us by shaving off their hair! This donation will help us to keep providing high quality support to Dorset’s young LGBT+ community through 1:1 support, family support, education and training, and, of course, our groups.

Aster is 22 years old, uses they/them pronouns and formally came out as non-binary in July 2020!

They are from Ringwood in Hampshire where they went to school with, (and are still one of the best-friends of!) our social media admin Megan. They currently work as a care assistant and have continued to look after vulnerable people in Dorset throughout the pandemic.

In January 2021, Aster shaved their head under the caption “I was going to do it anyway!” and donated 50% of the proceeds to us here at Space Youth Project and the other 50% to Just Like Us - a national charity which focuses on making LGBT+ lives easier at school and in the workplace.

Aster says:

“I shaved my hair because I felt it would be an affirming experience...and it was!

A lot of people have told me they want to shave their heads but they’re too scared, I would say do it, even if it’s only once!”