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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New team 2014

Hi I’m Mike Warren and I’m currently on the VPA team as the Media and Communications Project Assistant.

During the first week we were introduced to each other through teambuilding workshops involving many Ice breaker games and activities. We were later given workshops on Business Development, Health and Safety, Equal Opportunities, Bid Writing/Fundraising, Finance, I.T, and Safeguarding.

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The wobbly stick game – blurry action shot!

Everybody is extremely friendly / welcoming and the overall atmosphere of our time here so far has been outstanding!

Week 9 on the VPA Programme

It has been a very busy few weeks on the VPA Programme which has not left our volunteers much time to update this blog so here is a long overdue update!

Jenni Byrne, VPA, on developments at Q Gardens Community Food growing project!

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On site we have had a bountiful harvest of the crops planted by the previous team. The plants harvested include: Pumpkins, potatoes, onions, fennel, sunflowers, celery, beet leaf, sweet peas, runner beans, nasturtiums and a variety of salad leaves and herbs.

During September and October we planted up our winter veg including: Pak choi, spinach, radish and spring onions.

Preparing for winter.

Although we can all enjoy the beautiful golden, rich colours and sharp, bright days of autumn, it does signify winter is fast approaching. The garden has transformed from a flurry of vibrant colours and shapes, all fighting for room in the planting beds, to a sea of wilting green plant matter, ready to be dug out for new life to grow next year.

Everyone involved with the site has been busy making sure the garden is prepared to face the months to come. Lots and lots and lots of seeds from the wildflower area have been collected. These seeds will be dried and bagged up, creating Q gardens very own wildflower seed mix. Once we were happy with the amount of seed collected, some of the team took on the mammoth task of clearing the wildflower patch in order to preserve the degraded quality of the soil (wildflowers don’t like the soil to be too high in nutrients unlike most crop plants).    

Members of the team have been tending to the plant beds, including; weeding, turning soil over, sowing green manure and covering beds over to protect them and hopefully minimise weeds. The two beds closest to the doctors surgery have been turned into ‘fruit corner’, with a variety of different berry fruit bushes being planted, as well as, a fantastically sculpted strawberry bed being created.

Other jobs have included the mucky job of reorganising and covering the growing compost heap. We are hoping that by next year we should have the start of some good, rich, own-grown compost to use to help the plants grow. Some people have been getting their construction heads on, creating wooden borders, made out of old pallets, for the potato beds. Others created a portable leaf cage which will be useful for years to come when the big old sycamore, located almost in the middle of the site, tree drops it’s leaves.   

New VPA team

Team photo

Welcome to the new team!

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Playing the Magic levitating stick game!

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A workshop creating their ‘ideal team members’

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Week one involved lots of teambuilding games

The team have completed an Induction week including workshops on teambuilding, safeguarding, equal opportunities, bid writing skills and Health and Safety to name a few. You can read more about the team and their goals in the Current VPA tab 🙂

VPA beach day!

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Yesterday the VPA team got together for a team building trip out to the beach. Every month on the programme we have a day away from the projects to reflect and have fun 🙂
We had a picnic, parachute games and competed in the VPA beach olympics! Events included the crab race, a fancy dress relay, hula – athlon and ring toss.
Rashid made a delicious Banana cake (hopefully he will share the recipe on here soon!)
Can’t wait for the next one in August.
Jo

Bulky Bobs Oldham VPA Placement

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Hello, Jo here, one of the VPA team leaders. I’ve had a nice afternoon visiting Aissata on her Volunteer Project Assistant placement at Bulky Bobs in Oldham. Bulky Bobs are an award winning business who re-use, recycle and refurbish old furniture to divert it from landfill. They collect unwanted household goods on behalf of the council and this furniture is then made available to families or individuals on low income.
Throughout the VPA’s placements I meet with all the team members individually to ensure they are working towards their goals and gaining valuable experience on the team.
Aissata’s responsibilities as a volunteer are to greet customers and show them around the warehouse so they can choose new furniture, to process the enquiries from people wanting their old items collected, to keep the database up to date and to keep an accurate record of what is currently in stock. Aissata has also been given responsibility for contacting new customers over the phone.
Aissata has been really enjoying the placement and is clearly a valued member of the team. Thanks to Bulky Bobs Oldham for providing an excellent placement! If you would like to find out more about Bulky Bobs please click here for a link to the website.
Jo

External VPA Placements Update

New VPA team
Alongside our Volunteer Project Assistants based at Groundwork we also run an external volunteer programme in partnership with Oldham Council, Oldham Evening Chronicle and Bulky Bobs to provide a wider range of placement options for adults and graduates. Here is the latest update from the new team!

After our initial settling in period of the first week, we external VPA’s for Groundwork were finally getting into the swing of things. For starters, Spencer Garlick, a VPA member who is working to improve his skills in construction, was helping on a building site in Langley, Rochdale, to improve the houses in the area as part of a local government project. Spencer really enjoyed his week however, the project was hampered by some delays in getting vital construction equipment to the site to enable the project to be finished on time. Despite this, the workers, including Spencer, toiled on to help make up some lost time before Manchester Radio came to interview some of the workers about the project. Although Spencer himself didn’t get interviewed, some of his colleagues did which he enjoyed watching whilst he carried on plastering!
Our second VPA, Ndanji, was back in her placement for the council working in housing and local area projects. This week she was involved in handing out leaflets within the local area to promote how to manage your money for an upcoming event. She also undertook meetings to discuss local neighbourhood improvements as well as dealing with neighbourhood complaints.
Our third VPA, Katy, had a shorter week at her placement at the Oldham Chronicle this week due to having a few days off to attend her university graduation, however, she still had an interesting week. She was sent on a reporting errand at Mahdlo Youth Zone in Oldham as part of her work for the All That youth magazine she is project managing along with her colleague Laura. The task was to report on a session young people were running, where issues young people discovered when trying to get a job were discussed and tips were given. She interviewed several people including young people from the borough, staff at Mahdlo and Oldham’s resident Youth Mayor. She had never undertaken a reporting task before but she felt the experience was a very useful addition to her skill set.
Sadly, two of our VPA’s, Jackie and Laura were ill this week but we look forward to hearing about their experiences at our next meeting.

A final thanks from this blog must also go out to Gemma and Jo for taking us out on Monday for our team building day to the Naked Bean café for some lunch, as well as to Alexandra park for some hot weather orienteering and a well-deserved ice cream.

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Orienteering

Until next week,

Groundwork’s external VPA team!

VPA Residential June 2013

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Five of us from the VPA team had a 2 night residential in the Peak District National Park. We stayed at Brunts Barn in Grindleford, Derbyshire. We undertook conservation work for 2 days with the Peak Park Rangers.

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Activities included: Installing a drainage pipe to prevent flooding on a footpath and helping to improove a steep footpath to ensure it was safe and even for people to use. The team cooked dinner for each other and Gareth even baked a Mary Berry recipe Victoria Sponge!
We played lots of games and had a great few days together.

Ashley, Bezel, Gareth, Hannah and Melissa.

Life as a Volunteer Project Assistant: Dan S

My standard week as a VPA starts at 10am on Monday, this usually involves some form of work with the Business Services department. Recently I have been assisting with an Energy Efficiency & Sustainability project in Smallbridge, this usually involves client engagement through door knocking, and follow up surveys. This is a great project designed to educate residents and tenants empowering them to save energy, we have also installed free small energy efficiency measures into properties including radiator foils, eco light bulbs and draft excluders.

Later in the week I can be found working on the National Access Project (NAP), this involves mapping our local waterways including access points (linked pathways), obstacles (surface type, equipment, steps) and facilities (canal side pubs, car parks). I’ve been responsible for training and managing volunteers, managing the budget and creating an action plan to track progress. The project has been great and I have definitely enhanced my employability as I have gained a long list of transferable skills. I’ve also been able to undertake some mapping myself; good exercise, nice scenery (if the weather’s good) and a hearty volunteer lunch.

Friday sees me outside learning practical skills at Irkside Nature Reserve, that’s right I am a fully capable hedgerow constructor. In-between I can be found completing folder work for the ‘Practical Countryside Skills’ and ‘Community Volunteering level 3’ qualifications, eating large quantities of food and operating the offices radio playlist. Thanks Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale you rock!

Dan Shoesmith VPA April 2013

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