After she found her 23-month-old daughter with glass in her mouth, a mum from West Swindon has placed a dustpan and brush at her local play park in a bid to prevent a child from being seriously hurt.
In less than a year Michelle Hughes, 33, from Middleleaze, has had two "terrifying" experiences at Middleleaze Park after she discovered her daughter, Isabella, had picked up glass.
In one incident her toddler had picked up a piece of glass and put it in her mouth. The mum-of-one said glass is the last thing she expected to find in a child's play park.
Mrs Hughes said: "Last year we were at the park and she was playing - I then realised she had picked up some brown glass. She normally picks up bark and puts it in her mouth so, at first, I thought it was bark.
"It then happened again about three weeks ago. I turned my back because her bike had fallen over, so I picked the bike up and turned around and noticed there was something in her mouth. I then realised it was a piece of glass.
"It was quite terrifying thinking about the idea that she had it in her mouth and then what if she had fallen over and swallowed it.
"You do try your best, but I literally turned around because her bike had fallen down in the wind. It happens in that split instant when you’re not looking. She’s so fast and so into everything - I was just very lucky to catch her that quickly.
"I can’t understand the mentality of people having glass bottles in a kid’s park."
Shortly after the second incident Mrs Hughes took a dustpan and brush to the play park and attached it to the railings with a note which reads: "Please use the dust pan and brush to clear up glass. We can't stop people doing it but we can change the result. Help little hands and little mouths stay safe."
Initially Mrs Hughes said she had been advised to contact her local council but believes it's up to the community to play their part too. "There’s not anything they can physically do," she says.
"They can’t stop whoever it is going there and dropping the glass, they can’t put up cameras everywhere, so sometimes we have to do things ourselves. I’m down there most days, so you just think ‘well whilst we’re there and we see it, quickly deal with it’.
"It’s a brand-new park and you want to look after it. There are bins there so it’s a case of what can we do as a community. There are always mums down there and people with dogs and we’ve all got the same issue. It’s terrifying for people with little ones and people with dogs as well.
"I just hope people take the initiative to use it if they need to. It takes five minutes to do and it can save so many little hands, little mouths and paws."
Since the dustpan and brush has been placed at the park Mrs Hughes says she hasn't seen anymore glass. But, she admits, she's surprised it's still there.
"Someone jumped on it straight away and said, 'how long it is going to last?', but I thought I can try can’t I? It only cost a couple of quid. I’m hoping it will be taken in the spirit that it’s about giving. I did think maybe it would be vandalised by the people that have been there leaving rubbish and glass, but you have to give it a try don’t you. I’m not losing anything by trying."
Since sharing the community gesture in a post on the West Swindon Community Facebook page, many people have praised the mum's initiative. One user commented: "What a lovely idea. I hope people use it!"
Another user added: "How kind of you, much appreciated, hopefully your kindness will not be abused. Thank you."
Over the last year West Swindon Parish Council have spent £180,000 renovating four parks in the borough. Despite the two incidences with glass, Mrs Hughes says she loves taking her daughter to Middleleaze Park and hopes her community gesture will continue to let others enjoy the park too.
In response to Mrs Hughes community action West Swindon Parish Council's Manager, Paula Harrison, said: "West Swindon has many local people putting time and energy into looking after the local environment and the Parish Council is very appreciative of their efforts.
"Our play areas are inspected twice weekly during school holidays and as part of this, the team will look for any broken equipment, glass or other hazards. Outside of these times phone numbers to report incidents are displayed in all play areas and. and any issues can be reported on 01793 445501."
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