Success in the VPA office

Now we all knew what a fantastic opportunity being a VPA with Groundwork would be when we applied, or we wouldn’t be here! But recently, the experience that being a VPA has provided some of us with is definitely paying off. I, Laura, am very excited to say that I have been offered a paid internship with an environmental company in the pretty darn swish MediaCity in Salford and it is safe to say I wouldn’t have even stood a chance without the support from Jo and Andy and the experiences they have provided me with. A very detailed placement plan was set out for me when I joined Groundwork based on what I wanted to gain from my time here. I have gained valuable experience in a fantastic environment which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do elsewhere and I am very thankful for that.

 

Emily, on the other hand, is through to the next stage of an application for a very exciting job opportunity, so best of luck to her too!

I want to use this post to reiterate that the Groundwork VPA programme is a brilliant opportunity and I would definitely recommend it to any graduate needing to gain that vital experience they need to get in to their desired field of work. It is a brilliant company to work for, full of supportive and friendly people and amazing opportunities!

 

I may have to bake a cake to celebrate….

Visit our website to find out how to apply or some more general information http://www.groundwork.org.uk/Sites/bbor/Website/vpa-programme 🙂

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!

Welcome June VPAs!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

Jo

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

VPA Placements starting in June 2013

Our summer 2013 placements will start on Monday 3rd June and run until Friday 23rd August. We’re delighted with the range and variety of graduate placements we can offer – some real hands-on projects that will make a difference to your CV and to the communities of Oldham and Rochdale! Interest has already been high but we have 20 places on offer so if you’re interested or want to apply do get in touch (my details are at the bottom of this page).

VPA placements

Practical Countryside Skills Assistant Team Leader – You will assist volunteers participating on the Practical Countryside Skills Course with practical tasks and work towards their portfolio so they can complete their Level 1 certificate. Duties will include supporting the project leader in the delivery of sessions throughout the course, mentoring the volunteers participating on the course, assisting in participants work on various conservation topics. A large part of the course in maintaining and improving natural spaces so you will help in the supervision of practical projects and ensure they are completed satisfactorily and safely.

Education & Communities Project Assistant (Q Gardens) – This new project will establish a community food growing site in Kirkholt, Rochdale in partnership with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. We are looking for a small team of volunteers to plan and organise a series of community engagement events and workshops all focused around food growing, plot maintenance and healthy eating. You will also assist with setting up similar gardens in other areas of Rochdale and assist tenants to create site management plans.

Community Project Assistant (Reservoir Trails) – You will lead on a project to organise a number of guided walks for the local community. This placement will provide you with experience of community engagement, project planning, organising and delivering events. You will be required to design, promote and deliver a variety of walks and events to inspire the local community to enjoy local green spaces.

Education & Communities Project Assistant (Community Action Team) – You will help to lead a team of adults working on inspiring outdoor growing projects in Oldham. As part of your placement you will gain some experience in community engagement, volunteer coordination, recruiting volunteers and inducting them. The main focus is on leading volunteers in a variety of workshops alongside the team leader so you will gain experience on a community run growing project.

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.

Employability Classroom Assistant – Are you looking for a career in adult learning, social support, employment or keen to help people? As part of our Work Programme contract in Middleton you will work alongside course leaders to deliver the Employability Skills qualification to unemployed adults. You will gain experience of teaching adults, developing interactive resources and support the smooth running of this course.

Land & Design Project Assistant (Bid Writing and Fundraising) – You will assist the Contracts Manager with bid writing to secure funds for the improvement of Groundwork managed nature sites in Oldham and Rochdale. This will involve helping with the creation of habitat management plans and to support the implementation of practical projects. You will gain experience of bid writing, funding, conservation management as well as physical improvement projects on the ground.

Business Services Project Assistant – You will assist the Business Services team with the delivery of energy efficiency programmes to homes and businesses. You will gain experience of delivering energy advice to householders on how to save money on their energy bills. You will also support small to medium sized businesses with the implementation of environmental management systems.

Marketing & Communications Project Assistant – You will support the marketing and communications of Groundwork projects, primarily through video capture and production. As part of this placement you will also gain experience of social media and help to write and coordinate blog posts aimed at different audiences. Prior training and/or experience in video production or media is required for this placement.

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.

Oldham Council Project Assistant – You will be placed in areas of Oldham Council to support the Community Development workers in three 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.

Bulky Bob’s Project Assistant – 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.

If you would like more information on any of these placements or would like to apply contact Gemma Russell; gemma.russell@groundwork.org.uk or call 0161 624 1444.

Life as a Volunteer Project Assistant: Steven P

Assisting Groundwork as a Voluntary Project Assistant (VPA) to help deliver a Practical Countryside Skills Level 1 course has proved to be a fantastic experience. Based both in the classroom and in the great outdoors, it gives the best of both worlds. As a VPA I help oversee that the volunteers are trained for their outdoor tasks, assist with the practical work and assist with teaching the written material. Work can be challenging and is in all weathers, but the camaraderie with the team (and the ready supply of tea!) makes each day a great one.

The course has involved taking our 11 strong group of volunteers to nature sites in Oldham and Rochdale, where they learn practical ways of looking after our green spaces. On the course I’ve helped to teach the team practical ways to create wildlife habitats and to regulate access to land. The team have keenly tackled hedge laying, footpath building and wire fence installation work amongst other tasks to help achieve this.

The opportunity to practice my practical conservation skills, gain teaching experience and enjoy the rewards of working with a great team of learners has made choosing to assist with the Practical Countryside Skills teaching project well worth it!

Steven Pratt, VPA April 2013

Cherry on the cake!

cherry cake
Our team have now finished their placements and held a special final celebration event held at Groundwork.

IMGP5102

To celebrate their achievements the team presented their work to friends, family and colleagues. It was an **extra special** final presentation as we have now hosted over 2000 VPAs at Groundwork since the scheme started in the early 1990’s.

 

Andy Darren, Executive Director of Groundwork West and Wigan, and one of the first VPAs at Groundwork spoke about his experiences of Groundwork – how the VPA Programme helped with his career.

IMGP5094

 

Helen Taylor Chief Executive of Mahdlo and former VPA also spoke about her experiences.

IMGP5096

Our latest volunteer recruits Jake and Daniel who are based at the Oldham Evening Chronicle presented their new project alongside staff – Tony Mackin and Steve Duthie.

IMGP5110
Group shot outside the building – many staff at the trust started here as volunteers!

As this team (like many before!) have been a fantastic group of bakers we also had a bit of a ‘cake off’ competition to finish the day.

IMGP5059

There were some fantastic contenders including a white chocolate and cherry cake, chocolate brownies, millionaires shortbreads, chocolate orange cupcakes, buuuut the overall winner was judged to be Liz’s carrot cake – deeelicious!

IMGP5116

Liz here accepting first prize from the Mayor of Oldham!

IMGP5118

Vicky came second with chocolate orange cupcakes

IMGP5120

I came third with a rainbow cake!

Thanks everyone who came along to celebrate.

Well that’s it for this year – we’ve had some really brilliant volunteers, lots of laughs and lots of cakes! We’ve got exciting things planned for next year – new placements and new partnership projects are in the pipeline.

If you are thinking about joining our scheme drop me an email joanna.fullman@groundwork.org.uk I’m on holiday for 3 weeks (gulp!) but will be checking my inbox.

Looking forward to more fantastic volunteers in the new year.

Jo

VPA team leader