New team 2014

Hi I’m Mike Warren and I’m currently on the VPA team as the Media and Communications Project Assistant.

During the first week we were introduced to each other through teambuilding workshops involving many Ice breaker games and activities. We were later given workshops on Business Development, Health and Safety, Equal Opportunities, Bid Writing/Fundraising, Finance, I.T, and Safeguarding.

blurry action shot!

The wobbly stick game – blurry action shot!

Everybody is extremely friendly / welcoming and the overall atmosphere of our time here so far has been outstanding!


New VPA team

Team photo

Welcome to the new team!


Playing the Magic levitating stick game!


A workshop creating their ‘ideal team members’


Week one involved lots of teambuilding games

The team have completed an Induction week including workshops on teambuilding, safeguarding, equal opportunities, bid writing skills and Health and Safety to name a few. You can read more about the team and their goals in the Current VPA tab 🙂

Recruiting for our September VPA team!

We have had some changes to the funding we receive for our VPA Programme which means we will now only be recruiting 19 – 23 year olds. The projects we have to offer in the next team are detailed below – as ever if you would like to have a chat about them please call Jo or Gemma on 01616 241 444!

Administration at Bulky Bob’s – Bulky Bob’s are an award-winning business who aim to re-use, recycle and refurbish at least 25% by tonnage of the items they collect. Thousands of items of furniture picked up by Bulky Bob’s crews are made available to families on low-income. You will support and greet customers, provide retail sales, marketing through social media, attend events and develop other sustainable reuse and recycling activities.

Education & Communities Project Assistant – Q Gardens (Community Action Team) – You will help to lead a team of adults working on an inspiring outdoor growing project in Kirkholt, Rochdale. As part of your placement you will gain experience in community engagement, volunteer coordination, recruiting volunteers and the induction process. The main focus will be leading volunteers in a variety of workshops alongside the team leader to gain experience on a community run growing project, running community engagement events and workshops focusing on healthy eating, food growing and plot maintenance. You will also assist with the running and planning of workshops to support setting up of similar gardens in other areas of Rochdale and assist tenants to create site management plans.

Oldham Council Project Assistant – You will be placed in areas of the Council to support the Community Development workers in two different areas of Oldham. You will work alongside the Community Development staff to deliver a number of projects including work around anti-social behaviour, promoting adult learning and community engagement. The Council placements may lead to further voluntary shadowing within the Council dependent on the experience you gain.

Oldham Evening Chronicle Project Assistant (All That Magazine) – You will co-ordinate and manage the development of a magazine written for and by young people from Oldham. Working with young people through focus groups, you will discover what they want to read about and deliver workshops to encourage them to write-up articles for the forthcoming edition. There will be opportunities for you write articles for both All That magazine and the Oldham Evening Chronicle, gaining valuable experience of print media, work with young people, schools and colleges, and social media.

Prince’s Trust Assistant Team Leader – The Prince’s Trust Team programme is a 13 week personal development programme for 16 – 25 year olds. You will work with the Prince’s Trust Manager and Senior Team leader to gain a wide range of experience of youth work. The role will involve attending a week-long residential with a Prince’s Trust Team, assisting the young people to organise fundraisers and community projects, and providing a range of learning support and tuition.

If you would like to apply please email for an application pack

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 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.

Welcome June VPAs!


A warm welcome to our latest recruits who started on Monday 3rd June! So far our new team have been learning about Groundwork, the important policies and procedures they will need to know, playing team building games including ‘zombie chair game’ and the conservation group even went on a 2 night residential with PPCV – phew! More on this in a post soon to come.
If you check the ‘Current VPA profiles’ tab you can hear from the latest team what they hope to gain from the programme. We will also be tweeting our adventures @GwOR_VPA
Really looking forward to an action packed 12 weeks with you all!


Week two in the VPA Programme

This week our VPAs have attended a lot of training to prepare them for starting project delivery next week!
On Monday we took a tour of the building in Higginshaw and found out about all the different staff and projects going on in the building. In the afternoon we had safeguarding training with Jo Fullman.
On Tuesday we met Andrew Fowler the Marketing officer to learn about press releases, social media, promoting the work of the trust and took part in a photography workshop. The team also celebrated shrove Tuesday by cooking up pancakes at lunch time 🙂
On Wednesday we met Clare Young the HR Officer who delivered some training for us on equality and diversity.
On Thursday we had Health and Safety training with Ian Holloway followed by an IT induction and introduction to Environmental Management Systems with magical Mike Beere the Training and Quality Coordinator.
Today has been spent on Irkside nature site with Matt Lynwood and Dene Marland getting to grips with the Practical Countryside Skills part of our programme.
Next week we will get our new volunteers to some posts about how they are getting on so far!
Jo and Gemma
(The photos in this post were all taken by the team on photography training)

May VPA Programme

The next VPA Programme is due to start on Monday 28th May. We have some fantastic projects to offer over the summer – if you would like to apply we still have some places available so give Jo F a ring at Groundwork on 01616 241 444

To give you a flavour of what you can expect please read on for some of the projects…..


Community Action Team:
This project will involve assisting to lead a team of adults working on an inspiring outdoor growing project in Falinge, Rochdale or Sholver, Oldham. Volunteers on this project will gain some experience in community engagement, volunteer coordination, recruiting volunteers, inducting them and leading them on a variety of workshops alongside the team leader as well as experience on a community run growing project.
Reservoir trails:
This project will involve organising a number of guided walks for the local community. This placement will provide volunteers with experience of community engagement, project planning, organising and delivering events. Volunteers are required to design a variety of walks and events to inspire the local community to enjoy local green spaces.

Shaw & Crompton Sundays:
We are looking for some creative volunteers to assist with the planning and delivery of the Shaw & Crompton Sundays project. This will involve organising family friendly community events in Bushcraft, conservation, footpath improvements, woodland management. Volunteers on this project will be required to volunteer on a couple of weekends during the 3 month scheme to deliver the events.
Practical Countryside Skills & Fresh Foods for Fresh Pupils:
We are looking for some volunteers to assist with our Environmental Education programmes. These will be practical projects which will involve teaching gardening and growing skills to both young adults and primary school pupils. Volunteers will gain experience of lesson planning, delivery of educational workshops and events.
Bid writing and project development:
We are seeking to recruit a small team of volunteers to assist with project development and bid writing. This will involve researching and developing new project ideas, assisting the Business Development Manager to compile funding bids for the continued development of the trust.
Employability Classroom assistant:
Our work programme team are seeking a volunteer to support them on the Employability Skills Courses we currently deliver at our Middleton office. Volunteers will gain experience of teaching, developing interactive resources and support the smooth running of this programme.

We can also offer many other placements in marketing, media, youth work and conservation so if you are looking for some specific work experience please do get in touch!


Deadline for Applications Looming

Our next VPA team will be starting in January 2012! We have some fantastic placements to offer in Communities, Education, Media, Business Services, Conservation to name a few.

If you would like to apply for the 12-week VPA scheme please download the role description ( and application form ( and make sure you submit your completed form before Monday 5th December. Please click on this link for more info

Send your completed application forms to Jo Fullman (

The essential Information:

  • Next start date: Monday 9th January 2012
  • Deadline for applications: Monday 5th December 2011
  • Interviews to be held: w/c 12th December 2011
  • Duration: 12 weeks
  • Days/times: Monday – Friday 10 – 4pm (but flexible around part time work or job search commitments)
  • Location: Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale, Shaw Road, Higginshaw, Oldham OL1 4AW.
  • Participation in the project will not affect Job Seekers Allowance or similar benefits. Travel expenses are provided.