Residential !

Last week I had the opportunity to join Team 115 of The Princes Trust Team programme on their residential. I managed to get a tonne of good photos and video, including a 4 day video diary I will upload asap !
I had such a good week, I helped take part in activities like Hiking, Rock Climbing, Caving, Traversing and Abseiling.

– MikeIMG_3490









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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!

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

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!

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!


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


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!


Reservoir Trails update….

…..from the Communities Team

The last two weeks of our voluntary graduate placement have seen us visiting the local countryside and reservoirs as part of our work with Pennine Prospects Reservoir Trails scheme. The aim of this project is to run up to 6 guided walks with groups within the community who would not normally engage with the local countryside and reservoirs.

First up saw us take the audio trail around Piethorne and Ogden reservoirs. We are hoping to produce a shortened version of this and identify local groups who are interested in participating in this project.

Piethorne Reservoir

Piethorne Reservoir

A view of Ogden reservoir

A view of Ogden reservoir

Secondly we visited Hollingworth Lake to meet Adam Clayton from Rochdale Council. Here we discussed putting together a desription of a circular walk to be used in brochures promoting the local reservoirs. We agreed to write descriptions of both Chelburn and Castleshaw reservoirs in addition to our planned guided walks.

The rest of the week was spent visiting these areas and writing descriptions of the route, getting slightly lost along the way!

A view from the Roman Fort overlooking the reservoir at Castleshaw



Upper Chelburn reservoir


Luckily the weather was kind to us, and the rain stayed away! We also made some friends along the way…..


Car driving dogs @ Hollingworth Lake

If you have any local information we could use for our guided walks or would like to attend one at Piethorne or Hollingworth reservoir, please email us at

– Natalie, Jess and Annie