Chatteris resident on a mission to clean up hometown during lockdown helps raise hundreds
- Credit: Archant
When he returned home after schools were closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, Joseph Beer was in need of something to do to keep himself occupied.
So, in order to fill the spare time, 15-year-old Joseph from Chatteris, who has autism and ADHD, wanted to make a change in his hometown after noticing something was not quite right.
“Since he’s been off school for so long, he’s not had anything to occupy him and needs some form of structure,” Lisa Beer, Joseph’s mum, said.
“He is very observant and we often say we can’t see this sign, and he gets annoyed about it because it’s there for people to see, but obscured by overgrown weeds or dirt.
“We knew when we were only really allowed to do exercise that he was doing observations, calculating in his head what needs doing and mentally, he decided that needs to be done.”
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With the help of dad Mark, Joseph along with his trailer, his bike, some secateurs, soapy water and a sponge, got to work and has cleaned the town’s road signs as well as cutting overgrown hedges and bushes.
Joseph has worked most days since lockdown began in March, posting before and after pictures on social media, with residents quick to send their praise.
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“He would come home absolutely filthy and would say ‘I’ve been to this place’, and I think he’s been recognised by the people of Chatteris because he is so distinctive with his trailer,” Lisa said.
“We are very proud of him and he comes back to tell us what he has done and we are just knocked back by his initiative and the fact he’s very clear in what he wants to achieve.”
After he was excluded from Glebelands Primary School in Chatteris over four years ago, Joseph has not undergone the easiest of times in his education, and at one stage, was without a school to attend.
But following lengthy discussions and endless searches for a school that would cater for Joseph’s needs, he has now found a place to settle.
“We worked with Cambridgeshire County Council to find him a school that could meet his needs. He was one year away from going up to Cromwell, but they felt they could not meet his needs, which was a huge trauma,” Lisa said.
“We found an amazing school called Wilds Lodge Boarding School in Rutland. We went there, chatted to the headteacher and he said he could meet his needs.”
Joseph stays at the school between Monday and Friday before coming home at weekends, something his parents found difficult to deal with.
With Joseph now at home until he returns to school, he continues to make a positive impact on his local community.
Chatteris resident Alee Pardon created a fundraiser as a ‘thank you’ to acknowledge Joseph’s hard work, which raised over £500 in one day as Alee intends to present the final total to Joseph.
“I was blown away by the amount raised in 24 hours. It was his young age that prompted me to set it up and how the town was reacting to his posts,” Alee said.
“We needed some positivity in the current climate, and I wanted to be able to do something nice for him that the community could get behind to show their appreciation.”
As well as a fundraiser, Joseph has received support in other ways too.
“A driving instructor sent a lovely comment because his driver could now see where they were meant to go, so those signs that were not clear, are now clear,” Lisa explained.
“He had a little box of Maltesers someone slipped into the trailer, while another said ‘you’re making Chatteris look amazing’. He had a lorry driver on the A142 pip him and waved.”
While Joseph, who wants to become a policeman in later life, continues to clean up the town’s streets, this has enabled him to focus on achieving a goal.
Although he has not decided to take on the challenge for financial gain, Lisa hinted that there is something the funds can go towards as her son looks to continue cleaning up his town.
“Joseph has been blown away by the kindness, generosity and wonderful comments. It has brought the best out of people,” she said.
“Joseph did not do this for financial gain, but what has made me smile is he said when this money comes through, he will buy some decent secateurs!”
To donate to Joseph’s fundraiser, visit https://bit.ly/30vQTh6.