’Cleaning your area is the first step to change’

Aubrey Robinson, Mark Blake and Basil Daniels got their hands dirty to clean up the streets of Lavender Hill.

It all starts with a broom, said Mark Blake, founder of Embrace Life, non-profit organisation, who believes change comes from within, and that the first step to changing your life is to take ownership by cleaning your area.

Mr Blake, from Lavender Hill, said his passion is to reach out to the community, especially the “man or woman on the street”. He sets the precedent and encourages others to get up every day as early as 5am, to help clean Chapel Street, where he lives.

Community leader Aubrey Robinson noticed his work, reached out to Mr Blake and donated brooms and spades to help the residents and volunteers clean the streets and sidewalks around the flats of Wicht, Chapel, Roos, Vogel and Chapel courts, on Saturday March 26.

Mr Blake said the aim of Embrace Life was not only to clean the area, but to holistically help those in need.

“We started in 2012 but registered as an NPO in 2016. We cover the areas in Ward 110.

“Aubrey also donated brooms in 2017 and we thank him for that.”

Mr Blake said before lockdown he had been very active in the community. “I worked with youth at New World Foundation and ran courses in anger management.

“During lockdown we were not able to do the programmes anymore. But we are still cleaning the streets. I started cleaning and people would walk past and offer their help. Sometimes it will be four people other times it will only be me. However, after every clean-up I offer them a sandwich and coffee.”

Residents and volunteers help clean the streets.

Mr Blake said the aim was to get people proactive and “to raise more leaders.”

On the pavements and open patches Mr Blake involves the residents to create gardens. “We want more greenery in the area.”

Mr Blake also said through empowering the community it may lead to “creating jobs for the unemployed.”