Residential !

Last week I had the opportunity to join Team 115 of The Princes Trust Team programme on their residential. I managed to get a tonne of good photos and video, including a 4 day video diary I will upload asap !
I had such a good week, I helped take part in activities like Hiking, Rock Climbing, Caving, Traversing and Abseiling.

– MikeIMG_3490









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World book day!

Since it’s world book day, we obviously discussed in the VPA office what our favourite books are and what characters we would dress up as (if we were 10 years younger and in year six).

I would definitely choose to dress up as the White Witch from Narnia, as I love the Narnia!!! and my favourite book would have to be the first Harry Potter, for nostalgic reasons. Jo, our VPA coordinator, chose The Handmaid’s Tale as her favourite book, and decided she would dress up as Fantastic Mr. Fox. Dewi chose The Great Gatsby as his favourite book, and sticking with the theme, chose the suave Jay Gatsby to impersonate. Emily chose the Discworld series as her favourite books, and would definitely dress up as the orangutan librarian. And finally, Nathaniel would dress up as the BFG and his favourite books are Schott’s Original Miscellany.

So that’s that! What is your favourite book? and who would you dress up as?


Success in the VPA office

Now we all knew what a fantastic opportunity being a VPA with Groundwork would be when we applied, or we wouldn’t be here! But recently, the experience that being a VPA has provided some of us with is definitely paying off. I, Laura, am very excited to say that I have been offered a paid internship with an environmental company in the pretty darn swish MediaCity in Salford and it is safe to say I wouldn’t have even stood a chance without the support from Jo and Andy and the experiences they have provided me with. A very detailed placement plan was set out for me when I joined Groundwork based on what I wanted to gain from my time here. I have gained valuable experience in a fantastic environment which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do elsewhere and I am very thankful for that.


Emily, on the other hand, is through to the next stage of an application for a very exciting job opportunity, so best of luck to her too!

I want to use this post to reiterate that the Groundwork VPA programme is a brilliant opportunity and I would definitely recommend it to any graduate needing to gain that vital experience they need to get in to their desired field of work. It is a brilliant company to work for, full of supportive and friendly people and amazing opportunities!


I may have to bake a cake to celebrate….

Visit our website to find out how to apply or some more general information 🙂

Pancake Day!!

Although it is only Dewi and I in the office today, it is not stopping us from using Pancake day as an excuse to eat some form of cakey treat, even if it may be flat and round and not cake like at all. We’ve gone for the old time favourite topping of lemon and sugar, and we may have also bought a jar of chocolate spread. Gotta have a bit of choice, dontcha?! Image


What’s your favourite pancake topping?


Laura x

Halfway Update !

We are 6 weeks in to our 12 week programme. So here is an update on what we have all been up to! – Mike



Dewi & Dave
“During our work so far as Volunteer Project Assistants in the Business Services department David and I have split our time between two different projects. Firstly the Big Energy Saving Network which aims to raise awareness of energy tariff options and assist people with making informed decisions about switching suppliers. This project revolves around delivering advice presentations to various groups such as people on employability workshops. So far we have both delivered one of these presentations each.

The other project we have been working with is an energy efficiency project in partnership with Six Town Housing. This work requires us to knock on the doors of specific residents in various areas of Greater Manchester including Prestwich, Ramsbottom and Ainsworth. We have had some success in getting people to sign up to receive free energy efficiency measures and advice on these issues.”


Mike & Laura
“During our time at Groundwork so far myself and Laura have been mostly working together to complete our projects. I’ll go out in the field and take photos and footage, Laura will write up the press releases and research. So far we have taken part in projects like the Princes Trust Team’s community project handover to Oldham Rugby Union FC, creating new Marketing schemes and updating social networking / the VPA blog.

However we also work on individual projects, so far I’ve documented projects like the 6 Town Housing scheme, the BCO participants, the practical countryside skills programme and The Princes Trust Teams assistance with MENCAPS’s tree growing. I’ve also taken part in more specific projects like senior management’s company profile photography and assisting with photography workshops.

Laura has set up and created instructions for a Groundwork Instagram, increased social networking numbers, created and held surveys, copyrighting and written up case studies.”

“After commencing on the practical countryside skills course from September to November 2013, I began on the VPA programme (both at Groundwork Oldham and Rochdale). For my placement I decided to participate in the Digital Inclusions project based at Sholver Youth and Community Centre in Oldham; one of three projects activities offered by Groundwork Oldham and Rochdale under the Community Coaches programme.  The project aims to teach people who would not have access to a computer for various reasons an understanding of basic I.T. literacy, including usage of the mouse, keyboard and the basics of the internet. In my role I am assisting my team leader (Tobias Jones) with help in recruitment for the course, promotion, setting up creative tasks for volunteers to be undertaken (i.e. tasks on the internet such as journey planning and shopping), and researching I.T. skills pertaining to the project as well as trying to implement them in a creative manner.”

“My main placement role is to assist in the delivery of the Practical Countryside Skills programme with Dene and Matt. So each week on a Monday and Tuesday we’ve engaged in outdoor practical conservation work. So far we have undertaken path clearance, woodland management, pond clearance, litter picking and site clean-up work. On a Wednesday the learners stay at the Groundwork office to take part in classroom work. We have focused on a variety of topics – hand tool maintenance, animals in the wild and in society, pests and diseases.”

As well as my main project role, I have also taken the lead in writing a funding bid for Littleborough based charity Animals in Distress at the Field of Dreams centre to improve an access road to their site and the Pennine Bridleway. In order to gain project management and organisational skills I have also been helping to organise a number of growing days at Fulwood nature reserve and two volunteer sessions for the Practical Countryside Skills groups. These projects are on-going.

Beyonce and The Princes Trust create a once in a lifetime opportunity!

I will actually be a steward at Beyoncé’s next two gigs in Manchester, however, if you are lucky enough to be actually going to watch the queen, please take a look at this. In my job here at Groundwork I have some involvement with The Prince’s Trust as we are a delivery partner of the programme. I have worked with young people who are currently on the programme through Groundwork and previous to this job and I can honestly say that the programmes delivered by The Prince’s Trust do change peoples lives. You can donate £3 or donate an item of clothing at designated donation areas within any arenas in the UK where Beyoncé is playing. In return you will get a #BeyGood sticker, and Beyoncé’s team will be wandering around the arena randomly selecting those with #BeyGood stickers to sit in VIP seating. The money goes to The Prince’s Trust which, as I said, is a brilliant organisation, and VIP seats for £3 is a brilliant opportunity.

If aren’t going to the concerts, but are interested in finding out more or donating, take a look at the website here 🙂



A week in VPA land


Ending a week with cake is the VPA way, especially when it’s been a busy one!

This week has been a hectic one for all of us to say the least. Mike and I have started to research and prepare for the revision of The Princes Trust Team marketing materials and have been out and about in doing so. David and Dewi have been speaking to residents in Prestwich and Ramsbottom about effective energy saving techniques. Nathaniel has been busy on his new digital inclusion project, and Emily has been practising her bid writing skills and has successfully written a bid to improve access to the Pennine Bridleway in Littleborough.

Unfortunately for us (Not for Edward), we had to say goodbye to Edward on Thursday as luckily for him he found the perfect job – in the Isle of Wight. This Thursday is also our last day with VPA Coordinator Gemma which will be a sad goodbye, but from all the VPA’s, we wish you the best of luck in your new job!

So as you can see, we definitely needed not just one, but two cupcakes to scoff today to bring a very yummy end to a very stressful week!

Hope you have all had a fantastic week and have a lovely weekend!

Laura X

Smithills Farm

This is basically just going to be a post of cool pictures of the VPA team with some animals. We went on a trip to Smithalls Farm in Bolton on Thursday and due to the fact that we had such a fantastic day, I just had to blog about it. Yes, we are all 21 and above. Yes, the farm was full of kids and their parents. Did it stop us being over excited and absolutely loving our day? No. Did it heck.

The staff were all absolutely lovely and really informative. We fed animals (including the cutest little lambs), held animals (Me, Mike and Edward held a Python – which I was fine with, until I was told it could crush me) and stroked some of the little furry friends. We even got a tractor ride!!

I’d recommend that people of ALL ages go and have a look round. They have a nice little cafe on site for a spot of lunch and as it is set within 70 acres of countryside, there is plenty of opportunity to make a day of it and go for a nice walk once you’ve seen all there is to see! And the best bit – it’s cheap as chips!

With it being half term this week (where I am, anyway), It’s definitely a winner for a family day out! Wrap up warm, though. And you might want to book in advance!

Check ’em out here 🙂

Photography by Mike Warren – Check out his flickr here for more photos of this day and lots of others too



Andy taught us about photography!


Although we already have an expert in our team – as you can see from the wonderful pictures in the other blog posts – our marketing manager Andy thought it’d be helpful to teach us a bit about photography so we can take some good snaps! We all started to get the hang of it in the end and found out things about our cameras that we never even knew! We also had a laugh when we had our first go at attempting to edit our images!

Cheers Andy, it was a great day and we all definitely benefited from it. However, I don’t think my family and friends appreciate the fact that I now think I’m a professional photographer!