VPA week 7

For this week it’s me, Rhiannon who will be updating you all on all the exciting things us current VPA’s have been up to last week.


Above is a photo of my self taken last Friday the 15th of March whilst I was out with another VPA called Steve identifying tree’s and identifying their approximate age whilst visiting Tandle Hill country park in Royton.

On Monday, I first had a meeting with Sam Eccleston, who works for Near Neighbours in Clarksfield and we were promoting a herb garden that has been set up on Arundel Street in Clarksfield for residents to grow herbs, flowers and possibly vegetables and fruit within the sometime this year when the weather gets better. We promoted this by knocking on doors and speaking to neighbours face to face and explaining to them what we were doing. Later on that day, I attended a meeting with Dave who is the Chair of NEON (Networking in East Oldham Neighbourhoods) and discussed an event that we were planning for Saint Georges Day on the 21st of April at Mahdlo in Oldham.

On Tuesday, I went around Littlemoor and took round leaflets promoting sessions that were running at East Oldham District Town Hall as well as worked on an action plan that I had made for a meeting with residents to do a litter pick around their area.

On Wednesday, I worked on a stall with my colleague Anne Fleming from Oldham Council at a roadshow at the Civic Hall in Oldham giving advice and leaflets to people on “How to make the most of your money”.

Kyle: Throughout this week, Kyle was busy working on the warmer homes project, particularly with the planters in Heywood.

Kyle had an interview and got a job with the NEET Team – congrats Kyle!

Dan:  Dan went door knocking in Smallbridge working with contractors to fit drought excluders, radiator foils etc. The project is going well with demand outweighing supply, so future funding looks promising. He also found a tenant willing to be part of a case study. He also attended a waste water consultation for a soap factory.

Jo: Interviewed the new VPA’s

  • Thomas Baxter – starts on Monday to fill Sairah’s place on the landscape project
  • Ashley O’Donnahue – will be filling in for Kyle on the contracts team

She ran a VPA promotion event and made connections with Mahdlo Youth Centre, who are keen to team up with Groundwork OR. The waterways mapping project is progressing well, with lots of trained volunteers covering plenty of ground.

Ben: Ben worked on the Boarshaw management plan. He also helped to standardise the countryside skills course content.

Steve: Steve went to Tandle Hill in Royton to so some Tree ID work last Friday. The hedge-laying that he’s been working on with others in Irkside has now been completed. He’s now progressing with dead hedging of fallen trees and maintenance of pond area. He attended an internal auditing workshop and may be helping assist with part of an internal audit. He also went to an Energy Efficiency in the workplace workshop run by Groundwork at GMCVO in Manchester.


Here is a picture of Steve taking part in identifying and giving approximate ages to tree’s at Tandle Hill on Friday 15th of March.

This Thursday coming on the 28th of March, we are all off to Offshoots in Burnley – It should be a great day, depending on the weather!


VPA Week 6

Hedgelaying 045

For those of you chomping at the bit for your next VPA blog fix, you’re in for a treat as the current VPA team complete our 6th week. The whole team are really getting stuck in with our projects now and are making great headway. Halfway there – how time flies!


Your blogger for this week is Steve, and I’ll be bringing you up to date with the team’s progress, while giving you an insight into what assisting deliver Groundwork’s Countryside Skills Level 1 course is like.

Kyle: Busy working with the contracts team, this week Kyle has been working at Beaver School where he has been preparing soil ready for new grassed areas. At another school, this time at Harwood in Heywood, Kyle has worked to prepare planters to improve the schools green spaces. Kyle has also been improving Oldham’s green spaces by litter picking and generasl site maintenance.


Sairah:  Has officially completed her time with the VPA team upon getting a job with Rochdale Council, before jetting off to Thailand to begin teaching English. Great work Sairah and the best of luck from us all!


Rhiannon: This week Rhiannon has made great progress engaging with the local community to participate in projects. Through door knocking work in Clarksfield Rhiannon asked around Taurus and Raper Street in Greenacres Rhiannon gave out leaflets and engaged with residents to become involved with a litter pick around that area, and to make the area a safer place. Also, Rhiannon has attended an evening meeting with NEON, an East Oldham organisation of charities working to improve communities, to discuss upcoming community events.


Steve: Volunteering as a VPA to assist with the Groundwork’s Countryside Skills Level 1 course is proving to be a fantastic experience. Based both in the office and great outdoors, it gives the best of both worlds.


A typical Monday – Tuesday involves taking our 11 strong group of volunteers to nature sites in Oldham and Rochdale, where we teach practical ways of looking after our green spaces. So far the team have keenly tackled hedgelaying, footpath building and are now learning how to install wire fences. This is a huge help for creating wildlife habitats, controlling access to land, and allowing the community to enjoy their favourite outdoor sites.  As a VPA I help oversee that the volunteers are trained for their tasks, assist with the practical work, and collect photo evidence for their Countryside Skills qualification. Work can be tough and is in all weathers, but the camaraderie with the team (and the ready supply of tea!) makes each day on site a great one.


Wednesdays are held in the classroom, where my VPA duties see me assisting with taught sessions in which our volunteers brush up their biology knowledge and learn other practical skills. Teaching is a good challenge and I am looking forwards to taking the lead on one in the coming weeks.

The Thursday VPA meetings are a treat (did someone mention cake?), and it’s always encouraging to hear the progress the team is making. Thursdays also give the opportunity to learn useful office based skills, such as creating lesson plans and gaining bid writing experience.


By the end of the week I’m back outdoors (hurrah!) completing my own Countryside Skills training. It’s great to be working with the other VPA’s for this, as is using the Kelly Kettles, which work by starting a small fire in the bottom to brew tea– all very bushcraft-like!

VPA post 05-03-2013


Ok, during last week’s meeting we decided on a rota for the blogs so you no longer have to worry about whether or not you’ll get your weekly fix of VPA wisdom. That’s a relief isn’t it.

Every week there will be a basic update on how everyone’s doing and then a more detailed point of view of a main blogger. Your blogger for today will be Ben.

Kyle has been working on the project in Fullwood making a planting garden for the community there. And on the Wednesday he was in Delph on the outskirts of Oldham where he helped build a safe walkway to improve site access.

Steve worked on the PETRUS project where he gathered a variety of plants to bring back to base. Also working on his main project with the countryside skills level 1 course where this week he saw them get to grips with hedgelaying and increase their knowledge of animal groups and habitats. On top of this he also came out on Wednesday to do waterway mapping training along the Huddersfield canal.

Sairah worked on her main project of working upstairs with the architects on a site survey she has also sadly left the VPA scheme at the end of the week due to finding work.


Rhiannon has had a busy week full of meetings about her main project and has even volunteered for NEON (east Oldham network) designing a newsletter.

Dan has been handing out booklets for warmer home project as well as working with Jo to take Ste and Ben for waterway mapping training. He was also looking forward to hedge laying this week and let’s face it who wouldn’t, although his comment about the sun seemed to jinx the weather.

Gleice has been working with Izzy regarding the Rochdale Borough wide Housing.  This involved updating the timetable to find out how far the project has gone regarding how many houses had been visited and how many appointments were made.

During this week I have been going through my several projects and tasks. On Monday and Tuesday there was a mixture of project work for the Boarshaw Clough WIG and paperwork for CVQ3. On Wednesday there was a change that saw me working with Dene on the countryside skills handouts in the morning. Then on Wednesday afternoon I went out with Ste, Jo and Dan for waterway mapping training which saw the use of tablets and confusion at the many types of path from bound stone to unbound dirt the possibilities are endless. Thursday saw the biggest get together of the current VPA team  since training week as we all gathered for the team meeting and the all important team trip. We were joined by Suzanne and Nabeela and Started off in Alexander park in Oldham for a treasure hunt in the glorious sunshine (for once no sarcasm needed). There was even time for a go on the play area to make sure it was safe for public use because we are so thoughtful. After the morning fun we carried on to Oldham gallery for our lunch and the cake that we had missed out of the meeting. The last part of the trip was spent soaking up the culture in the gallery and badge making. On Friday you’ll be glad to know Dan got his wish of being out on site in Irkside where we were tutored in management techniques by Dene and Suzanne. I think I speak for everyone by saying it was another varied week full of new experiences.


Above: veiw on the waterway mapping training trip

Below: one of  amazing sites in the oldham galley on the day out, both images provided by our photographer of the week Dan Shoesmith.