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!


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