A NEW social media campaign to celebrate keyworkers has been launched in a North-East town.

The campaign, titled #WaveToWorkers, has been launched by the Hungry Little Minds team in Middlesbrough, in partnership with Middlesbrough Reads and Middlesbrough Council.

The teams, who also want to enhance community spirit and share positive messages about the importance of supporting young children’s literacy, are encouraging families with children under five across Middlesbrough to look out for four eye-catching refuse lorries decorated with cartoon animals and simple tips about chatting, playing and reading together.

If a family spots one of the lorries while out and about, they are being encouraged to give the workers a wave to show appreciation for all of their hard work keeping Middlesbrough tidy throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period. The workers, when safe to do so, will wave straight back.

Families who get involved with the campaign will be in with a chance of winning a free Hungry Little Minds goodie bag by simply waving to workers and sharing a photo of one of the special refuse lorries on the Middlesbrough Reads Facebook page using the hashtags #WaveToWorkers and #HungryLittleMinds.

#WaveToWorkers is part of the wider Hungry Little Minds campaign, which encourages parents and carers to chat, play and read with their young children (aged 0-5) to equip them with the skills they need to start school.

Funded by the Department for Education, the Hungry Little Minds team have been working with the Middlesbrough Borough Council School Readiness team to distribute resource packs to families across the town.

These free packs for children under five include a brand new book, a series of chat, play and read activities, craft materials and more to support parents and carers in their role as their child’s most important educator.

The campaign also joined forces with Middlesbrough Reads at the beginning of lockdown and ran a series of Roald Dahl challenges to inspire children and families to bring magical stories to life at home.

Anne Goodall, Hungry Little Minds community organiser, said: “I think this is a great way for families to learn about the campaign, have fun and get involved.

“Waving to workers adds a bit extra for young children and shows appreciation for the work the refuse teams do. We hope to have families sending us lots of fantastic photographs of them chatting, playing, reading and waving over the next few weeks.”

James Kingett, programme manager for Middlesbrough Reads, said: “We’ve been working with families and early years professionals in Middlesbrough since 2013, but thanks to a new Facebook page and lots of creative family-friendly activities, Middlesbrough Reads has become even more recognisable during lockdown.

“Now we get to step it up a gear with this upbeat campaign out on the streets – improving literacy and boosting morale all at the same time.”

Councillor Barrie Cooper, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for education and skills, said: “Our refuse crews are a popular sight with children and families, and as key workers they’ve played a really important role during lockdown. #WaveToWorkers is another chance to show our appreciation and I know young children across Middlesbrough will be keeping an eye out for the specially decorated bin wagons.

“I’m delighted that the Department for Education has funded this initiative – it’s another great way to spread the Hungry Little Minds campaign message and get families reading and learning together.”

If families see one of the lorries on their daily walk or when their bins are being collected, they can get involved in the campaign by waving to a worker.

To be in with a chance of winning a free Hungry Little Minds goodie bag, families should take a photo of the bin lorry and share it on the local Middlesbrough Reads Facebook page using the hashtags #WaveToWorkers and #HungryLittleMinds. Alternatively, photos can be sent to bororeads@literacytrust.org.uk.