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People Who Help Us: Marcus Does the Wheelie Bins

Valuing everyone, particularly those who do things that go unnoticed.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about valuing everyone and particularly those who do things that go unnoticed.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some examples of rubbish, e.g. empty cartons, apple cores.
  • OHP or flip-chart and pens.
  • For the short play you will need to rehearse children in the following parts: Narrator (could be a teacher); Tina; Marcus; Lady.
  • For more about drama in assemblies visit our resources section.


  1. Make a list of jobs that the children think are really important. Write the obvious ones in one colour (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers, dentists, vets). Discuss how we would be affected if there was no one skilled to do these jobs.

    If anyone mentions jobs that often go unnoticed, e.g. cleaners and refuse workers, write them in a different colour. Ask the children why they think you have done so. They might say that they are not as important.

    Now ask them to think about what would happen without these people. Who would clear away the empty milk cartons in school? What would happen to the black bags in the back yard? Discuss what happens when people live with dirt and rubbish. If any year groups have studied the plague, ask them what caused it. What happened to solve it in London?

    Now ask the children if they still think that cleaners and refuse workers are less important when compared to doctors, etc.

  2. Ask the children to help you make a list of things that might be called rubbish. When the flip-chart page is full of items, say what a lot of rubbish there is. Ask them what happens to all this rubbish? Think about the refuse workers, who come round and put everyone's rubbish in a big truck which crushes it up and disposes of it at a tip.

    Ask the children if they think it is an easy job to do, and why (or why not). Tell them that it must be hard to keep cheerful when doing the bins (bad weather, heavy bags, some danger, etc.).

  3. Introduce the following script, about someone called Marcus who does the wheelie bins and likes to sing while he's working. He realizes that his work is important and that what he does is appreciated by others.

    Narrator: Marcus liked to sing while he was working. He sang Blues songs mainly. 'I'm a soul man' was one of his favourites. He would sing as the truck was going along and he would sing as he was picking up the bins from outside people's houses.

    When the truck stopped in the road, Marcus and his workmate Tina would get out and fetch the bins that people had left by the roadside, and bring them to the truck. They would fix them, two at a time, to the special lift at the back of the truck. The lift would tip the bins, emptying them into the back of the truck, and then lower them again.

    Then Marcus and Tina would put the bins back where they belonged. They had good days and bad days. The day we're telling you about now was both bad and good. While you listen, think about why we should value people who collect our rubbish.

    For a start, it was a miserable wet, rainy day. Marcus's alarm clock went off at 5 o'clock in the morning. He looked out of window.

    Marcus: I hate these winter mornings! It is so cold and dark - it won't be light until 8 o'clock.

    Narrator: Marcus stepped out of his house and shivered. It was really cold and the rain pelted down on him. Tina was late so he had to wait for her at the depot. He wasn't annoyed with her, though, because he was often late himself. It's hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed in such weather. When Tina arrived they set off in the truck. Their spirits began to rise as they remembered some of the troubles they had had in the past.

    Tina: Do you remember that time on Ash Road when that bin was so heavy we thought it must have been filled with concrete?

    Marcus: Oh yeah, it took three of us to move that one.

    Tina: I thought it would break the lift on the back of the truck.

    Marcus: I thought it would break my back; I was in agony for weeks.

    Narrator: The truck came to a stop as they entered Church Street. They went to get the first bins of the morning. Marcus began to sing. But suddenly he stopped.

    Marcus: That's disgusting. I can't stand it.

    Narrator: He had found a particularly smelly bin. He pulled his scarf over his nose and mouth to block out the smell, and continued to sing.

    Tina: Your voice sounds much better like that, Marcus!

    Narrator: Later on that morning the worst thing happened. Marcus was running, hurrying to take a bin back to one of the houses, trying to make up some time, when he tripped over the kerb and fell. He fell heavily, full length, on the edge of the pavement and felt a sharp pain. Tina ran to him quickly.

    Marcus: I think my ribs are broken - don't touch me.

    Narrator: It was cold and wet in the gutter where Marcus was lying. Tina didn't know what to do. Just then someone else appeared. It was the lady who lived at the house Marcus was taking the bin back to.

    Lady: Oh dear, I was watching from the window. What an awful thing to happen! I always like to hear him singing. What can I do?

    Tina: Can you ring for an ambulance, please? And do you have something to keep the rain off him?

    Narrator: The lady was back in no time with a large raincoat.

    Lady: The ambulance is on its way.

    Marcus: Thank you.

    Narrator: Marcus tried to force a smile.

    Lady: He's such a cheerful lad. I watch out for him every week.

    Narrator: The ambulance arrived and took Marcus away. The next day, after Tina had finished her work, she went to visit him in hospital. He was sitting up in bed, with his chest bandaged, wearing headphones and singing along to the tune.

    Tina: Still singing, Marcus?

    Marcus: Yeah, it's a gospel song - really jolly and fun.

    Tina: What, after the time you've had? The rain, the smelly bins and then the accident, what have you got to be happy about?

    Marcus: Why? Because my ribs will get better, and I will be as good as new. Second, I had my friend with me - you - who looked after me really well. Best of all, I've just had another visitor, before you came.

    Tina: Who was it?

    Marcus: The lady from yesterday. She said that she looked forward to hearing me sing again every week. She brought me some chocolates and left a card. There it is.

    Narrator: The card said: 'For Marcus, the singing wheelie bin man. When I'm down, you cheer me up. When you're down, remember that without you and your friends we would be in real trouble. Keep doing a good job and keep on singing.'

  4. Discuss what the children thought about the story. What do they think about Marcus and the job that he and Tina did?

Time for reflection

Dear God,
Help us to remember all the people who help us.
Not just the doctors, nurses and teachers, but those people we often forget.
Like Marcus and Tina - without them we would soon be in a bit of a mess.


'Water of life' (Come and Praise, 2)

Publication date: February 2003   (Vol.5 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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