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

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Week 10 Update :D

Crikey its week 10 already, I have no idea where all the time has gone, I suppose that old expression that times flies when you’re busy/having fun holds true. Well hello to all the readers, this week its Dan again, giving you the weekly fill of our work, lots has been happening as our placements and projects are nearing completion.

Work has been cracking on at Irkside Nature Reserve, Steve led a session on Friday where we completed the pruning and cutback of obstructive vegetation and then used this to build a large habitat pile. Aside this he has been busy in the classroom assisting the group in finalising the project work as it nears to an end.

This week Gleice and I have been busy finalising the evaluation report for the ‘Energy Efficiency & Sustainability’ project in Smallbridge. Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) received the report last Wednesday and are very pleased with it 😀 The project has been very satisfying and hopefully following this successful pilot, RBH will roll out the initiative on a larger scale. I also undertook some mapping for the National Access Project (NAP) with one of great volunteers; we had a fantastic lunch, which was greatly appreciated after our healthy exercise!

The well deserved benefits of volunteering on the National Access Project.

The well deserved benefits of volunteering on the National Access Project.

Benedict has been busy completing the all-important folder, alongside this he squeezed in a day mapping on the NAP, for which I am very grateful. He has also been busy organising an exciting team building trip for this Friday, Oldham based tasting trip to support of the local economy.

Rhiannon as always has been busy working at Oldham Council. This week she has been engaging residents to set up the herb garden project and has been generating some strong interest. She also did some leafleting at a local fun-day event held in Stoneleigh Park.

Team trip simultaneously building team morale and scoring non-alcoholic beverages and supporting the local economy.

Team trip simultaneously building team morale and scoring non-alcoholic beverages and supporting the local economy.

Jo & Gemma have been busy bee’s inducting new VPA’s and marking our qualification folder work. Wednesday saw them on a photo shoot at the new soon be perma-culture site, from which the next VPA scheme will be based (starting in a few weeks at the start of May). Next week there should be a press release on this so keep a lookout if you’re interested!

Finally we have some sad news regarding our office vegetables…. unfortunately they have outgrown us and gone on to bigger and better things. I heard on the grapevine this was to do with neglect on Benedict’s behalf. They now have a new happy home outside in the big wide world where they can continue growing. We wish them all the best in their future ventures and hope that one day they provide someone lucky people with a tasty and healthy snack!

A friendly canis lupus familiaris of the golden retriver variety that may be found on the waterways.

A friendly canis lupus familiaris of the golden retriver variety that may be found on the waterways.