VPA final team trip!


For the last day of the VPA Programme our volunteers chose to go to Platt Fields Park Fun Fair for their celebration day! We arrived at the park in time for an ice cream and a leisurely game of Kubb before heading over to the fair go on lots of rides.



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We finished the day with a delicious curry in Rusholme. It’s been another fantastic team of Graduate volunteers and we look forward to hearing from you all soon to let us know what you are doing next!



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.

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.

Naked bean cafe Oldham

Alexandra Park Oldham


Until next week,

Groundwork’s external VPA team!

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.


Offshoots fun day out!

On Friday 16th March we all had a lovely day out at Offshoots in Burnley. Offshoots is a permaculture project that started in 2007 and set up in the old walled garden in Towneley Park.

First things first, we all made ourselves a cuppa, introduced ourselves to the other visitors and then Phil Dewhurst gave us a brief introduction and history of the project.

In the morning Phil gave us a tour of offshoots and talked about the many different activities they are involved in there. It was amazing how much they had fit into a relatively small area. To give you an example there was fruit/veg growing, Tudor style timber building work, a compost loo, cob oven, yurt making, composting and lots more interesting things.

In the afternoon we were split into groups and given the chance to get involved with some activities. We did either cotton grass propagation, soil sieving, dividing blackcurrant plants and  planting of garlic, french beans and white beans. Then we had the great opportunity to get dressed up in suits and go and visit the bees. It was buzzing!

We all had really fun day and were glad we had the chance to see this inspiring permaculture project and meet the nice people responsible for it.


A day at the reservoirs

Matt, Leanne and Sarah were out and about at the Piethorne/Ogden reservoir complex today taking pictures for their project. Some of the pictures taken may well go into the podscroll that we are helping to put together as part of the reservoir trails project.

The end result should be a downloadable  podscroll which people can put on their phone to acompany them on their walk round the area giving them details of reservoir features and the nature and history that surrounds them.

The great pictures today should be a good addition to the research already collected.   ogden reservoir



Last week we had a trip to Offshoots in Burnley to find out more about the practice of permaculture and get some ideas for a funding bid we will be writing for our nature sites. Offshoots is a Permaculture demonstration community
project located in the walled garden at Towneley Hall, Burnley. The
project is managed by Groundwork Pennine Lancashire on behalf of
the Offshoots Voluntary Management Committee.

Phil Dewhurst, the offshoots manager (on the right of the pic), gave us a tour of the fantastic array of activities on site including willow weaving, food growing, bee keeping, composting, green woodworking and rustic furniture making, yurt construction, bach flower remedies, charcoal burning. The site also has a working strawbale composting toilet and many sustainably built structures such as the walter segal self build cabin with a living roof, cob buildings and a demonstration backyard garden.

checking out the bodgers tools…

..yurts under construction

a tyre window in the wall of the cob building which also has a built in bread oven!

We lent a hand in the afternoon weeding veg beds, and potting on and pricking out seedlings which are being grown to sell on to the bear cafe in Todmorden. You can readmore about offshoots here www.offshoots.org.uk or read about the Bear cafe here www.bearco-op.com/


Wigan Burger

Today we visited Groundwork Lancashire West and Wigan to see what the volunteers have been up to there. We trekked around Amberswood Common, venturing through the wood and wetland. We were really impressed with the huge 160 hectare site, coming across swans and cygnets, ducks and moorhens on the way.

Back in their Wigan office we talked through a SITA bid. The team there were succesful in winning some SITA funding for their site so they gave us ideas and inspiration for our Boarshaw Clough bid.

Obviously, we could not visit Wigan without trying the world famous pies. A team favourite was the hot pot pie.

Thanks to Lucy, Nikki and the team for an inspiring day! You can read more about their project here – http://www.northwest.groundwork.org.uk/lancashire-west–wigan/what-we-do/case-studies/2011/greenheart-team.aspx