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Comment: We need to recognise more heroes

In times like these, when the world is full of fear, everybody needs a hero.

If you think who your heroes are, many of you will come up with a list that may contain actors, sports stars, musicians, or even occasionally the men and women who have shaped our world emotionally, economically, ethically and politically.

But there are other heroes who are involved in difficult situations and who make a difference in their everyday jobs that rarely get the recognition they deserve.

And even when they do, it is often due to devastation. An example that comes easily to mind are the doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers, transport workers and members of the public who helped their fellow human-beings in the face of the terrorist outrages a month ago.

It is especially saddening that we reveal in MRW this week that terrorism has meant many recycling facilities on the streets of central London have been removed because of the threat. But unfortunately, if it prevents the heroes listed above, from having to deal with more horrific situations from terrorist attacks, then it is the price we have to pay and alternatives must be found.

But there are other heroes, who very, very rarely get recognition for their work - and more often than not criticism.

One group who do a vital job that is barely noticed until things go wrong is street cleaners.These people are heroes too.
They take away our household waste and recycling, and yes aren't always perfect, but generally do a good job.

Yet, they are threatened doing what appears to be on face value a straightforward job. A report from the British Cleaning Council and Keep Britain Tidy has discovered that street cleaners face threats from guns, knives and used drug needless on their rounds.

Perhaps more worryingly, these are not isolated incidents. Over two-thirds of the people collecting our bins and waste, and cleaning our streets, have been subjected to either physical or verbal abuse at some point.

Public sector workers like them, as well as teachers, nurses, fire fighters and other heroes who serve our nation are often the brunt of this anti-social violence. It is about time society learned the value of the people who do little and big things that make our lives easier.

This year at the National Recycling Awards, being held on October 25 at Ponds Forge in Sheffield, for the first time there will be a lifetime achievement award. This will honour a hero from our industry who has shown dedication and commitment to recycling and waste management.

If you would like to nominate a hero, see the news story on page 7 for details or visit

Get nominating!

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