VPA Placements starting in June 2013

Our summer 2013 placements will start on Monday 3rd June and run until Friday 23rd August. We’re delighted with the range and variety of graduate placements we can offer – some real hands-on projects that will make a difference to your CV and to the communities of Oldham and Rochdale! Interest has already been high but we have 20 places on offer so if you’re interested or want to apply do get in touch (my details are at the bottom of this page).

VPA placements

Practical Countryside Skills Assistant Team Leader – You will assist volunteers participating on the Practical Countryside Skills Course with practical tasks and work towards their portfolio so they can complete their Level 1 certificate. Duties will include supporting the project leader in the delivery of sessions throughout the course, mentoring the volunteers participating on the course, assisting in participants work on various conservation topics. A large part of the course in maintaining and improving natural spaces so you will help in the supervision of practical projects and ensure they are completed satisfactorily and safely.

Education & Communities Project Assistant (Q Gardens) – This new project will establish a community food growing site in Kirkholt, Rochdale in partnership with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. We are looking for a small team of volunteers to plan and organise a series of community engagement events and workshops all focused around food growing, plot maintenance and healthy eating. You will also assist with setting up similar gardens in other areas of Rochdale and assist tenants to create site management plans.

Community Project Assistant (Reservoir Trails) – You will lead on a project to organise a number of guided walks for the local community. This placement will provide you with experience of community engagement, project planning, organising and delivering events. You will be required to design, promote and deliver a variety of walks and events to inspire the local community to enjoy local green spaces.

Education & Communities Project Assistant (Community Action Team) – You will help to lead a team of adults working on inspiring outdoor growing projects in Oldham. As part of your placement you will gain some experience in community engagement, volunteer coordination, recruiting volunteers and inducting them. The main focus is on leading volunteers in a variety of workshops alongside the team leader so you will gain experience on a community run growing project.

Prince’s Trust Assistant Team Leader – The Prince’s Trust Team programme is a 13 week personal development programme for 16 – 25 year olds. You will work with the Prince’s Trust Manager and Senior Team leader to gain a wide range of experience of youth work. The role will involve attending a week long residential with a Prince’s Trust Team, assisting the young people to organise fundraisers and community projects, and providing a range of learning support and tuition.

Employability Classroom Assistant – Are you looking for a career in adult learning, social support, employment or keen to help people? As part of our Work Programme contract in Middleton you will work alongside course leaders to deliver the Employability Skills qualification to unemployed adults. You will gain experience of teaching adults, developing interactive resources and support the smooth running of this course.

Land & Design Project Assistant (Bid Writing and Fundraising) – You will assist the Contracts Manager with bid writing to secure funds for the improvement of Groundwork managed nature sites in Oldham and Rochdale. This will involve helping with the creation of habitat management plans and to support the implementation of practical projects. You will gain experience of bid writing, funding, conservation management as well as physical improvement projects on the ground.

Business Services Project Assistant – You will assist the Business Services team with the delivery of energy efficiency programmes to homes and businesses. You will gain experience of delivering energy advice to householders on how to save money on their energy bills. You will also support small to medium sized businesses with the implementation of environmental management systems.

Marketing & Communications Project Assistant – You will support the marketing and communications of Groundwork projects, primarily through video capture and production. As part of this placement you will also gain experience of social media and help to write and coordinate blog posts aimed at different audiences. Prior training and/or experience in video production or media is required for this placement.

Oldham Evening Chronicle Project Assistant (All That Magazine) – You will co-ordinate and manage the development of a magazine written for and by young people from Oldham. Working with young people through focus groups, you will discover what they want to read about and deliver workshops to encourage them to write up articles for the forthcoming edition. There will be opportunities for you write articles for both All That magazine and the Oldham Evening Chronicle, gaining valuable experience of print media, work with young people, schools and colleges, and social media.

Oldham Council Project Assistant – You will be placed in areas of Oldham Council to support the Community Development workers in three different areas of Oldham. You will work alongside the Community Development staff to deliver a number of projects including work around anti-social behaviour, promoting adult learning and community engagement. The Council placements may lead to further voluntary shadowing within the Council dependent on the experience you gain.

Bulky Bob’s Project Assistant – Bulky Bob’s are an award-winning business who aim to re-use, recycle and refurbish at least 25% by tonnage of the items they collect. Thousands of items of furniture picked up by Bulky Bob’s crews are made available to families on low income. You will support and greet customers, provide retail sales, marketing through social media, attend events and develop other sustainable reuse and recycling activities.

If you would like more information on any of these placements or would like to apply contact Gemma Russell; gemma.russell@groundwork.org.uk or call 0161 624 1444.


Life as a Volunteer Project Assistant: Steven P

Assisting Groundwork as a Voluntary Project Assistant (VPA) to help deliver a Practical Countryside Skills Level 1 course has proved to be a fantastic experience. Based both in the classroom and in the great outdoors, it gives the best of both worlds. As a VPA I help oversee that the volunteers are trained for their outdoor tasks, assist with the practical work and assist with teaching the written material. Work can be challenging and is in all weathers, but the camaraderie with the team (and the ready supply of tea!) makes each day a great one.

The course has involved taking our 11 strong group of volunteers to nature sites in Oldham and Rochdale, where they learn practical ways of looking after our green spaces. On the course I’ve helped to teach the team practical ways to create wildlife habitats and to regulate access to land. The team have keenly tackled hedge laying, footpath building and wire fence installation work amongst other tasks to help achieve this.

The opportunity to practice my practical conservation skills, gain teaching experience and enjoy the rewards of working with a great team of learners has made choosing to assist with the Practical Countryside Skills teaching project well worth it!

Steven Pratt, VPA April 2013

VPA Final Presentation

The current VPA team carried out a brilliant final presentation this afternoon. The guys and gals put together a lovely insight of the last 3 months of their VPA placements and details of what they had been upto, what they had achieved and what they got out of the scheme.

Some prospective VPA’s also came to listen to what the current team had been upto and to find out for themselves just what exactly the programme could offer to them in terms of experience to add to their CV.

The team put together an amusing Prezi presentation that bounced around the projector screen, full of pictures and text as to what their time had entailed.

The Presentation concluded with a tasty buffet full of wondrous tasty healthy and not so healthy treats, that included cake (any VPA’s/ Jo and Gemma’s favourite!) aswell as the largest tub of Haribo ever seen!

VPA's with Groundwork staff at the Final Presentation

VPA’s with Groundwork staff at the Final Presentation

Thanks so much to Ben, Dan, Gleice, Rhiannon and Steve finishing this week. It’s been a great 12 week getting to know you all and we wish you all the best of luck in your future careers ahead of you!

By Gemma Russell

Week 10 Update :D

Crikey its week 10 already, I have no idea where all the time has gone, I suppose that old expression that times flies when you’re busy/having fun holds true. Well hello to all the readers, this week its Dan again, giving you the weekly fill of our work, lots has been happening as our placements and projects are nearing completion.

Work has been cracking on at Irkside Nature Reserve, Steve led a session on Friday where we completed the pruning and cutback of obstructive vegetation and then used this to build a large habitat pile. Aside this he has been busy in the classroom assisting the group in finalising the project work as it nears to an end.

This week Gleice and I have been busy finalising the evaluation report for the ‘Energy Efficiency & Sustainability’ project in Smallbridge. Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) received the report last Wednesday and are very pleased with it 😀 The project has been very satisfying and hopefully following this successful pilot, RBH will roll out the initiative on a larger scale. I also undertook some mapping for the National Access Project (NAP) with one of great volunteers; we had a fantastic lunch, which was greatly appreciated after our healthy exercise!

The well deserved benefits of volunteering on the National Access Project.

The well deserved benefits of volunteering on the National Access Project.

Benedict has been busy completing the all-important folder, alongside this he squeezed in a day mapping on the NAP, for which I am very grateful. He has also been busy organising an exciting team building trip for this Friday, Oldham based tasting trip to support of the local economy.

Rhiannon as always has been busy working at Oldham Council. This week she has been engaging residents to set up the herb garden project and has been generating some strong interest. She also did some leafleting at a local fun-day event held in Stoneleigh Park.

Team trip simultaneously building team morale and scoring non-alcoholic beverages and supporting the local economy.

Team trip simultaneously building team morale and scoring non-alcoholic beverages and supporting the local economy.

Jo & Gemma have been busy bee’s inducting new VPA’s and marking our qualification folder work. Wednesday saw them on a photo shoot at the new soon be perma-culture site, from which the next VPA scheme will be based (starting in a few weeks at the start of May). Next week there should be a press release on this so keep a lookout if you’re interested!

Finally we have some sad news regarding our office vegetables…. unfortunately they have outgrown us and gone on to bigger and better things. I heard on the grapevine this was to do with neglect on Benedict’s behalf. They now have a new happy home outside in the big wide world where they can continue growing. We wish them all the best in their future ventures and hope that one day they provide someone lucky people with a tasty and healthy snack!

A friendly canis lupus familiaris of the golden retriver variety that may be found on the waterways.

A friendly canis lupus familiaris of the golden retriver variety that may be found on the waterways.

weeks 8+9

Sorry for the delay on the VPA blog we have been working so hard we haven’t got round to it. You’ll be excited to know that your blogger this week is Ben again (save cheers until the end).
This week Steve was working with the practical countryside skills team, at Irkside, where they have made a great headway into creating a habitat wall. They have also been working on replacing the fence that will protect the completed hedgerow. The team are very close to finishing their portfolios so not much paperwork left for them.
Gleice wrote a report covering the outcome of training on energy efficiency. She also worked on parts of her CVQ portfolio.
Dan (the shoester) has also done part of the report as well as working on the energy efficiency project in Smallbridge. Dan has been catching up with folder work and working on improving Irkside with the countryside skills groups. All this on top of getting older this week, happy birthday Dan!
This week our VPA team leaders Gemma and Jo have been busy marking folders and planning projects for the next VPA team. They have also been setting up a community food growing project with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing called Q Gardens. This project will see the next VPA team delivering workshops and activities to encourage local residents to get growing.
I have had a busy two weeks both office and out of the office.
For the past two Wednesdays I have been with contracts department of groundwork working with the two Mikes. This is has meant getting up in hours I had yet to discoverer in life in order to get in at 8 o’clock (I know it’s an inspiration to all). The first week saw us braving the arctic conditions at Delph primary school moving stone for the renovation of the playground. The rest of that week was a more quiet affair mostly office based writing up notes made from the Boarshaw Clough visit on the Friday before. I also ran a session on pond dipping for the other VPA’s which meant we could find all the beasties that Irkside pond had to offer.

The whole team have been on a team trip to offshoots in Burnley. This trip was useful as it showed us how an area of previously unused land can be transformed into a public friendly area where people can learn to perform sustainable agriculture techniques.
We also had a team meal where everybody brought in a dish to create a buffet. The buffet consisted of wraps (plain and garlic), beetroot, hummus, tomato rice, mustard potato, vegetable chilli, carrot kofta and crisps. I can confirm it was delicious and deny all rumours that it caused any illness!

Finally here’s good news as well as our office vegetables are growing thick and fast although very unlikely we will have a salad soon.