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!

Food for thought!!


Weekly cooking workshops took place at The Oldham Academy North in Royton. Local residents had the opportunity to come down and meet new people, learn new skills and even get their personal recipes published in the Great Oldham Cookbook – a collection of recipes from the Oldham community.

Mike went down with his camera on Thursday the 23rd of Jan which was the last workshop. He got some great images of the range of different people who attended showing off their new skills!

I don’t know about you, but those cookies look good to me!ImageImageImage

Did you know we like cake?


It is a VPA ritual on a Thursday that we all meet up, and yes, you guessed it – we eat cake. These fabulous minty cupcakes were made by our VPA team leader Jo!

Here’s the recipe:

100g butter

100g sugar

2 eggs

150g self raising flour

1tsp baking powder

75g choc chips, mint choc – Jo used mint aero!


50g butter

150g icing sugar

peppermint extract

green colouring

6 chocolate squares in half – after eights


Give it a go and enjoy!

Marketing and communications team!


Last but not least, the lovely, amazing, wonderful dream team (I’m not biased, honest).

Meet Michael Warren and Laura Isherwood (myself)!

Mike has an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design with honours from The University of Salford. He chose groundwork as he felt it would be relevant experience and an opportunity to get some great shots and pieces of work for his portfolio. Mike also hopes to strengthen his CV by volunteering for Groundwork.

There seems to be a running theme here, but I don’t disagree with it – Mike has also gone for a cheesecake as his favourite cake. However, he did pose the question ‘Does cheesecake count?’ and now I’m wondering myself. Is cheesecake a cake? hmmmm


Last but not least – a not so good photo of me, but wonderful photography by Mike! I am Laura Isherwood and I graduated last year from Leeds Metropolitan University with a 2:1 in BA (hons) Psychology with Criminology. I chose Groundwork as they had been recommended to me by a few people, and when I looked them up and saw their brilliant opportunity to get on the VPA scheme as a Marketing Project Assistant, I jumped at the chance! By doing this placement, I hope to develop the experience I already have in PR, Marketing and managing social media accounts, but I also hope to gain new experience, such as project management. I love the type of work that groundwork do and some of the stories I hear about different projects really make me smile. 🙂

Ok – fave cake. That’s a toughie. Is sticky toffee pudding a cake?! I don’t know. If not, I do love me a bit of carrot cake! Mmmmmmm. On that note, it’s lunch time.



I hope you have enjoyed reading about the new VPA team. We’ll be posting regular updates on the trials and tribulations (Dramatic. I wanted it to sound exciting) of the Groundwork VPA team Jan-April 2014!




Meet Emily, our Countryside skills VPA



Say hello to Emily!

Emily studied Geography at the University of Edinburgh  and is currently a Countryside Skills Project Assistant VPA with us! Emily chose groundwork as she is interested in environmental conservation and working within communities. Emily says she wants to gain experience of leadership in environmental conservation, qualifications and work experience from the programme!

Important part – Emily has made an excellent choice for her favourite cake – Lemon Cheesecake! B-E-A-UTIFUL!

Meet our Princes Trust duo!

A slightly delayed, albeit, definitely worth waiting for, introduction to our Princes Trust VPA’s! Image

First up is Edward Brown. Edward read Ecology at the University of Essex and has postponed his PGCE to gain more work experience. Edward chose to come to Groundwork because he admires the work we do with both the Environment and Communities. He also wanted to gain some valuable work experience and thought the VPA programme was a good opportunity to work with young people and help them to further their development.

Edward has not specified his favourite cake, maybe he forgot to write it down when his mind went into cake overdrive, but never fear – I will be finding out his fave spongey treat when he returns to the office!


Meet Nathaniel Clegg! Nathaniel gained a 2:1 in Popular Music with Honours from Manchester Metropolitan University. He chose the VPA scheme as he had previously volunteered with Groundwork on the practical countryside skills course and he just couldn’t tear himself away! No – not really, his team leader, Matt, recommended he apply for the VPA scheme! Cheers Matt :). Nathaniel hopes to gain work experience from the programme to increase his employability and improve his CV. He also wants to gain Project Management experience and keep himself busy!

Now – because Nathaniel has simply put ‘Cheese’ at the end of his bio, I can only assume that he means cheesecake to fit in with the cake theme, however, cheese in general is pretty darn good too, so who knows!

Meet our brand new Business Services team!


Meet our VPA Business Services team David and Dewi.

David studied Geography at The University of Chester and is currently working towards getting his Masters in Sustainability for Communities and Businesses. David chose Groundwork as they are a respected organisation and he wanted to gain some hands on experience by volunteering on a community sustainability programme.

Dewi studied at Sheffield University and has a BSc in Geography. He wanted to volunteer with Groundwork to get some project management experience in order to increase his employability.

Last but certainly not least, as we enjoy a good cake here at Groundwork, it is important for us to let you know about each individuals favourite cakey indulgence. David would go for the Jamaican Ginger cake, whereas Dewi loves a bit of Coffee Cake. Good choices I’d say!

Meet more of the team tomorrow