Durham University student volunteers are helping their peers keep Durham neat and tidy as they leave the city for their summer vacation

EACH year, Durham University students have the chance to donate belongings they no longer want to charity through the Green Move Out scheme, a partnership involving Durham County Council and the charity County Durham Furniture Help Scheme (CDFHS).

Usually, Green Move Out flyers and special purple donations bags are delivered to Colleges and student homes in the City by CDFHS.

This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and staff being on furlough leave, CDFHS was unable to make the deliveries.

However, student volunteers – along with volunteers from the university’s staff – have stepped in to make the deliveries.

CDFHS staff and volunteers have now begun collecting the filled bags, and collections will continue until late July.

In addition, Durham County Council is providing extra refuse and recycling collections – an initiative to which the University has made a financial contribution.

The City of Durham Parish Council was also involved in the development of this year’s scheme.

The Northern Echo:

Durham University student Lizzie Watts with a Green Move Out donation bag

Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University, said: “It’s really important to us as a University that we take good care of the beautiful City we share and contribute to environmental sustainability. The Green Move Out scheme helps the environment by reducing the waste going to landfill and also allows students to help a great local charity.

“During this pandemic it has not been easy to organise and we are especially grateful to our student and staff volunteers for stepping in to distribute the Green Move Out flyers and bags this year. It shows again that Durham University students and staff care deeply about our environment and our city.”

Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “We are really pleased in what has been a very challenging year to once again be in a position to team up with our partners to run the Green Move Out project.

“Even though we are in a pandemic, there will be students having to vacate their accommodation and we are running Green Move Out to help them recycle items they know longer want where possible, stopping them ending up in landfill.

“As ever items which can be reused will go to local charities, providing them with much needed support in what will have undoubtedly been a difficult year for them as well.”

Steve Mitton, chief executive of CDFHS, said: “Without the students’ help and enthusiasm, Green Move Out this year would not have happened as our resources are all engaged elsewhere, dealing with people badly affected by Covid-19.

The Northern Echo:

County Durham Furniture Help Scheme's Steve Mitton

“This was a superb and well-co-ordinated volunteer activity rustled up from scratch and if this is what can be done, the student volunteers are most certainly welcome to come back again next year.”

Green Move Out has run for each of the last 15 years and has grown from one college to operate across Durham University, in colleges and private accommodation.

Students use the special purple bags to donate clothes, shoes, bedding, electrical items, pots and pans, crockery, books and non-perishable food, which is reused, diverted or sold.

Last year, 4,500 bags of donated items were collected, including 27 tonnes of reusable items.

This year, purple bag collections will take place each weekday until Wednesday, July 24.

Durham County Council will undertake additional refuse and recycling collections in areas of Durham that are popular with students each weekday between 4pm and 7pm and on Saturday mornings until Saturday 11 July, plus a final collection on Sunday, July 12.

Due to Covid-19, many fewer university students are currently resident in Durham City than would usually be the case at this time of year. The university invited students to leave Durham early for their Easter vacation and since then teaching and assessment has taken place online.

Since Government regulations changed to allow students to return to their university address to collect belongings, the University has been seeking to manage the number of students in Durham at one time by reminding students that Covid-19 restrictions do not allow overnight stays at properties other than one’s home address.

Additionally, students living in university colleges have been allowed to return to collect their belongings during allocated time slots only.