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

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

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!

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


VPA cake day!

From Monday – Wednesday our VPA’s are busy working on their  individual projects but every Thursday we get together to have a team meeting. This is a chance to catch up, hear about each others projects and have cake 🙂 each week a member of the team takes it in turn to chair the team meeting – setting the agenda and they also bring in cake to share with the team! We’ve had some fantastic bakes and this week was no exception!

Rachel Wrigley has very kindly shared her delicious lemon drizzle cake recipe:-


75g Butter

120g Caster sugar

2 eggs

2 tbsps lemon curd

Lemon zest

grated ginger

150g Self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp milk

Whizz the ingredients together and bake at 180 degrees C for 45 mins. When the cake is still warm pour the topping mix and leave to cool!

Topping ingredients:

lemon juice

granulated sugar

2 spoons grated zest

Pour on top while the cake is still warm!

I would post a picture of the cake but I’m afraid we have eaten it all!! So here is a picture of Will’s Halloween themed cup cakes from a couple of weeks back!


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.

VPA Residential June 2013

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.

VPA post 05-03-2013


Ok, during last week’s meeting we decided on a rota for the blogs so you no longer have to worry about whether or not you’ll get your weekly fix of VPA wisdom. That’s a relief isn’t it.

Every week there will be a basic update on how everyone’s doing and then a more detailed point of view of a main blogger. Your blogger for today will be Ben.

Kyle has been working on the project in Fullwood making a planting garden for the community there. And on the Wednesday he was in Delph on the outskirts of Oldham where he helped build a safe walkway to improve site access.

Steve worked on the PETRUS project where he gathered a variety of plants to bring back to base. Also working on his main project with the countryside skills level 1 course where this week he saw them get to grips with hedgelaying and increase their knowledge of animal groups and habitats. On top of this he also came out on Wednesday to do waterway mapping training along the Huddersfield canal.

Sairah worked on her main project of working upstairs with the architects on a site survey she has also sadly left the VPA scheme at the end of the week due to finding work.


Rhiannon has had a busy week full of meetings about her main project and has even volunteered for NEON (east Oldham network) designing a newsletter.

Dan has been handing out booklets for warmer home project as well as working with Jo to take Ste and Ben for waterway mapping training. He was also looking forward to hedge laying this week and let’s face it who wouldn’t, although his comment about the sun seemed to jinx the weather.

Gleice has been working with Izzy regarding the Rochdale Borough wide Housing.  This involved updating the timetable to find out how far the project has gone regarding how many houses had been visited and how many appointments were made.

During this week I have been going through my several projects and tasks. On Monday and Tuesday there was a mixture of project work for the Boarshaw Clough WIG and paperwork for CVQ3. On Wednesday there was a change that saw me working with Dene on the countryside skills handouts in the morning. Then on Wednesday afternoon I went out with Ste, Jo and Dan for waterway mapping training which saw the use of tablets and confusion at the many types of path from bound stone to unbound dirt the possibilities are endless. Thursday saw the biggest get together of the current VPA team  since training week as we all gathered for the team meeting and the all important team trip. We were joined by Suzanne and Nabeela and Started off in Alexander park in Oldham for a treasure hunt in the glorious sunshine (for once no sarcasm needed). There was even time for a go on the play area to make sure it was safe for public use because we are so thoughtful. After the morning fun we carried on to Oldham gallery for our lunch and the cake that we had missed out of the meeting. The last part of the trip was spent soaking up the culture in the gallery and badge making. On Friday you’ll be glad to know Dan got his wish of being out on site in Irkside where we were tutored in management techniques by Dene and Suzanne. I think I speak for everyone by saying it was another varied week full of new experiences.


Above: veiw on the waterway mapping training trip

Below: one of  amazing sites in the oldham galley on the day out, both images provided by our photographer of the week Dan Shoesmith.