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


VPA beach day!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 Final Presentation

The current VPA team carried out a brilliant final presentation this afternoon. The guys and gals put together a lovely insight of the last 3 months of their VPA placements and details of what they had been upto, what they had achieved and what they got out of the scheme.

Some prospective VPA’s also came to listen to what the current team had been upto and to find out for themselves just what exactly the programme could offer to them in terms of experience to add to their CV.

The team put together an amusing Prezi presentation that bounced around the projector screen, full of pictures and text as to what their time had entailed.

The Presentation concluded with a tasty buffet full of wondrous tasty healthy and not so healthy treats, that included cake (any VPA’s/ Jo and Gemma’s favourite!) aswell as the largest tub of Haribo ever seen!

VPA's with Groundwork staff at the Final Presentation

VPA’s with Groundwork staff at the Final Presentation

Thanks so much to Ben, Dan, Gleice, Rhiannon and Steve finishing this week. It’s been a great 12 week getting to know you all and we wish you all the best of luck in your future careers ahead of you!

By Gemma Russell

First week on project!

Hello! Here is the first VPA instalment of the hugely anticipated Spring VPA Scheme 2013 blog! Undoubtedly you will all be bouncing around with excitement at receiving this update, so please settle down and allow me to indulge you in our first week of activity!

Having completed our two-week introduction to the VPA programme and Groundwork as an organisation, we have now started our individual projects. Already I find myself with a long and growing to-do list which is great as I like to be busy!

On Monday I met with Izzy who I’ll be working with on the Energy Efficiency Scheme on behalf of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. This pilot project aims to improve the energy efficiency of households with the Smallbridge area, through small installation measures and promoting energy efficient lifestyles. We’ve been out to site to see the area and met some of the local volunteer we’ll be working with to coordinate the project. Already it’s clear to see the area with benefit from the investment and hopefully this scheme will grow in size and be the first of many!

Wednesday saw me making fun maps on ArcGIS and outside in the BEA-utiful yet freezing cold weather, starting the National Access Project with my project officer Jo. This involves using gadgets to map a 53 mile stretch of British waterway on behalf of the Canal & River Trust. I’m looking forward to when the hot weather rolls in and I’ll be getting plenty of vitamin D and exercise!
Thursday brought about the first weekly team meeting and cemented the project’s commitment to ‘fattening’ up the VPA’s. We’ve had flapjacks, a buffet lunch and have now committed to the cake at every meeting :O

Friday is my first conservation day, fingers crossed for a sunny day and a warming fire on site 😛

Thanks for reading


Final Presentation

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So we had a final presentation to tell our families and the staff at Groundwork what we have achieved over the past 3 months! Everyone enjoyed TJ’s amazing DVD which we will try to upload if the old computers allow it! Here we all are proudly accepting certificates from the ED, Cliff Ellison.



Cake Friday!!

It has become a bit of a tradition around the VPA team to have cake on a Friday for our team meeting. This week we had a mega cake off with no less than 3 types of cake! Sarah, Colin and Jo all baked cakes in honour of Friday and more importantly Paul ‘the penguin’s Birthday. We had a chocolate and beetroot cake (Thanks Colin!), courgette cake with deliocious lime curd (Thanks Sarah!) and some lemon drizzle cupcakes…… to follow!

After the weekly team meeting the team got stuck into their understanding volunteering module. Today they have been learning about the benefits of volunteering and different volunteer involving organisations. Issues such as funding organisations, their management and frontline services provided have been covered.

This work will go towards their community volunteering qualification which they should complete by the end of the 12 week programme.



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 or read about the Bear cafe here


Volunteer day, presentation and cakes

The cakes were made on Thursday afternoon by Liam and Sarah ready for those in attendence for the VPA presentations, they went down a treat. We had rice krispy cakes, choclate cake, coffee and walnut cake and choc chip muffins.

As for the presentations they went really well and it seemed like all those who were there learnt a little bit more about what we are all up to. Liam spoke about what he had achieved on his digital inclusion programme so far, Christian about his plans for constructing the “Friends of Jubilee park” group, Sarah Lav and Alice went through the work they had done so far on the food growing and Matt and Leanne summarised the project about the reservoirs and what they had done so far to help out on volunteer programmes going on in groundwork.

It was well attended we practically filled the boardroom , there was very little cake left but im sure we will finish it quickly.


After my health and safety training in the morning, Matt, Leanne and I escaped the office yesterday to join the DCAT team at their celebration BBQ, with activities for the local children.  After manning the hook the duck stall, Matt joined us at the arts and crafts table with disasterous consequences!  Whilst making a bird scarer to protect the newly planted flowers, he cut his hand- with plastic safety scissors!  I think we might need a risk assessment specially for him…

Sarah Lew

Day in the office

Hey Matt, Jawad, Alice and Sarah Lav here having an office day. Jawad is researching wild flowers today for his project. The rest of us are working on presentation material for the volunteer celebration day on friday where we’re all doing presentations on our projects to all the other volunteers and staff at groundwork. There is going to be loads of cake to distract us!!! Alice & Sarah are doing a pretty poster Matt is taking the boring uni style powerpoint option to make everyone want the cake! We will put some photos of the cake and Matt boring the crowd after the event. We’ve just got Jo talking about cake for the presentation so gona leave it for today and join the discussion.