Wanted: Snow Champions

Jayne, Snow Champion, Penrith

Cumbria County Council is responsible for maintaining nearly 5,000 miles of public highways in Cumbria. There's no law to prevent you from clearing snow and ice on the pavements outside your property or public spaces. Some people will prefer to continue to do their own clearing without involving the county council, but the Snow Champions scheme allows the county council to have a record of which areas are being cleared and also helps people to be provided with the right equipment and guidance on how and when to clear footways. The provision of such assistance is on an entirely voluntary basis. There is no contractual relationship between Cumbria County Council and volunteers.

Cumbria is looking to recruit 300 Snow Champions - approximately 50 in each of the county's six districts. Anyone clearing footways of snow or ice should be careful, use common sense and not do anything which would make the footway more dangerous than before or cause harm or distress to others.

"I do it for the sense of community. People often talk about helping others, but not many actually get involved." Jayne, Snow Champion, Penrith

Jayne became a snow champion because many of her neighbours are older people in sheltered housing and can struggle to walk to the local shop in severe winter conditions. She keeps around 200 metres of footways near her house clear of snow and ice. We gave Jayne a snow shovel, protective clothing and salt to spread. You should give her a pat on the back.

Recommended equipment:

  • High visibility vest, warm gloves, salt and snow shovel (all supplied to Snow Champions).
  • Warm clothing, including hat.
  • Sturdy, non-slip footwear, eg waterproof boots/wellingtons.
  • Fully charged mobile phone (if you have one).

Personal safety measures:

  • Be careful, use common sense and pay attention to who is nearby.
  • Choose suitable clothing, as outlined above and if possible take in plenty of hot drinks.
  • It's easier to clear fresh snow, so make a start before people squash it down if you can.
  • Always work on the agreed length of footway.
  • If you are working alone, always contact someone when starting and finishing.
  • Use your snow shovel and salt sensibly.
  • Always bend your knees, not your back, when lifting and do not try and move or lift anything that is too heavy.
  • Take regular breaks, inside where possible and keep stretching and swapping tasks - moving snow and spreading salt is hard work.
  • Don't attempt to clear snow from roads, only clear snow from pavements and footways as agreed.
  • Always try to face oncoming traffic when working near a carriageway.
  • Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. You can then shovel from the centre to the sides.
  • Think carefully about where you pile snow, eg do not block paths, drainage channels or fire exits.
  • Spread salt as you progress to stop ice forming on the area you have cleared.
  • Try to walk only on the areas you have salted to reduce the risk of slipping.
  • Use the sun to your advantage. Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath but you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop overnight refreezing. 
  • Pay particular care and attention to steps and steep gradients - use extra salt if required.
  • DO NOT use hot water to melt snow, this will create black ice.
  • Regularly wash/wipe hands of salt and avoid contact with eyes.
  • Report ALL accidents, incidents and near misses that involve you to your contact officer.

Are you fit-to-participate?
Please be aware that the type of work you are volunteering to do can often be physically demanding and tiring. For this reason we would strongly advise that you ask yourself whether you are physically capable of carrying out the work involved before signing the form overleaf.

If you are pregnant or have any pre-existing health problems, eg angina, back pain etc or you are not sure whether you are fit enough to carry out the work involved, then you should seek advice from your GP before you agree to become a Snow Champion.

Your Personal Details:
You will need to contact Cumbria County Council on 0845 6096609 before completing an application form to discuss the location you would like to operate in.

If you'd like to hear more about becoming a snow champion to help keep your local footways safe
for others, then contact Cumbria County Council on 0845 6096609