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Issue 10 - Spring 2013

Dig deep for fresh food Vo l u n t e e r s S T E P up to the mark Groundwork do the business too


New NEAT team starts - P7

Spring is such a positive and vibrant time as the cold and dismal dark days of winter give way to brighter skies and a time when we can start to think about spending more time outdoors. More and more people are starting to think about growing their own food and this issue includes two articles on community food growing projects which we are delivering and supporting. You will see from Dene’s easy steps to getting started with this, that it does not take too much effort to make some small changes to achieve a great deal. As a local charity, we are always pleased to receive sponsorship or donations in a range of ways. Tawnia Norman, aged 28, and a local resident wanted to run a marathon for a charity that meant something to her and would have a positive impact on the local area. Tawnia chose to fundraise for Groundwork and support the Fullwood Community Garden – a food growing project and wildlife area in East Oldham. The money raised will go towards tools and equipment for residents to use, manage and enhance the community garden. Very best wishes to Tawnia! If you would like to make a donation visit We really value support of this kind as it means that we can continue to work closely with members of the community in a way that benefits the residents. Please don’t forget that 2013 is for Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale a special year as we celebrate our 30th anniversary in October. We have some special events planned in the lead up to the anniversary. Please get in touch if you can share any special experiences of being involved with Groundwork over the past 30 years.

Goodbye VPA’s - P8

Vicki Devonport Executive Director Follow me on Twitter @GwOR_Vicki

Q Gardens Opens - P4 2

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale On The Ground | Spring 2013

“Thanks to the Groundwork Prince’s Trust project we are now able to get a good start in setting up our Incredible Edibles projects, which will benefit the local community as well as providing vegetables for youth cookery sessions.” Jill Amos, Springvale Youth Centre Manager

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale is a registered charity focussed on changing places and changing lives. Find out more about what we do and how you can benefit...


We need empty homes - P7

p4 Dig deep for fresh food Two community gardens spring to life p4 Food for free Grow your own food - it’s easy! p6 Changing Lives: Jeff We help Jeff get full-time work p6 Volunteers STEP to it Helping Sanctuary Trust in Rochdale p7 We do the business too Find out how we help local businesses p8 Canal & River Trust mapping Volunteers map canal network

Last year we helped our volunteers a n d t r a i n e e ’s gain over 1,400 formal qualifications. The work done by Groundwork has been a real life saver. This enabled the project to open in February and accommodate homeless rough sleepers in one of the harshest ongoing winters we have experienced in years.” David Lackner-Smith, CEO for Sanctuary Trust

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale On The Ground | Spring 2013


Residents encouraged to dig deep for fresh food Two new community gardens have recently opened their doors to residents. Fullwood Community Garden in East Oldham and Q Gardens in Rochdale will enable people of all ages to learn about food growing and the benefits of producing fresh local food. Groundwork is involved in both of these gardens and you can be too. If you want to learn growing tips to use at home or would like to share your knowledge with others, come along to a food growing session. For details of when these sessions take place contact Dene Marland; or call 0161 624 1444. Q Gardens

Getting started

Fullwood Community Garden

Food for free Dene is an Education & Community Officer at Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale and has established food growing projects at schools, housing schemes and at his own home. Included here is a recent blog ( by Dene explaining how you can grow food for free almost anywhere! Get inspired and let us know how you get on. As everyone is well aware, we in Britain have a delightful climate that consists of rain, frost and even more rain, with sometimes even the sun making a special guest appearance. This year was no exception, with the frost running into April, which is a right royal pain in the bottom if you’re a gardener without a greenhouse or poly tunnel. But don’t fear if this is the case as there are a few easy tricks to ensure your seeds and saplings will survive the harshest of British Springs. 4

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale On The Ground | Spring 2013

When I first approached the prospect of growing my own food, I will not lie, I was terrified. My only experiences had been looking after plants whilst my parents were away on holiday, and let’s just say, the plants didn’t welcome them home with open leaves – eek! But from this I have gone on to successfully deliver a series of growing projects within schools and communities, proving that it really isn’t that difficult. Through experience, I can hand on my heart tell you, the most important thing you can do when deciding to grow your own food is preparation. If you’re short of space, you can grow food in pretty much anything, from old boots and suitcases, to larger items such as old tyres and bins (remember to create holes for drainage otherwise your seeds might take a boat ride around the garden). Another important thing is ensuring you have the right compost for the job. I have found B&Q Verve Sowing & Cutting Compost to be excellent – a light compost that is ideal for sowing seeds and gaining instant results. A useful site to compare other gardeners choices is Finally you should also decide on the seeds you want to grow as this will dictate the layout of your growing area, and when and where they need to be planted. A general rule of thumb is there are around 8 vegetable growing families (families get on with each other and grow).

Spring into action

Harvest time

Ok let’s get to it, what can we do with the weather we have been gifted this year? The answer is loads. Let’s start with simple windowsill herb gardens. You don’t have to be green fingered to create one of these. All you need is a tray, some drainage for the bottom, a scoop full of compost, and a mixture of your favourite herbs for flavouring tasty recipes. Windowsill herb gardens are easy to do, take little care, and will continually provide all year round. Just don’t let them go to seed.

When it comes to harvesting our foods, it’s always best to let some of the plants go to seed. This will allow you the opportunity to gather seeds and dry them out for next year, meaning it won’t cost you a penny for seed purchase next year.

Start planting your seeds, most seeds should have been planted by now, but we can be forgiven for not doing due to the terrible weather. Why not start planting some beans, peas, lettuces, cabbages and potatoes. All very easy to grow and should be ready to harvest by late July accounting for the late spring. A great site for cheap good quality seeds is

Get cooking

A useful tip for planting seeds if you don’t have a greenhouse is to get a 2 litre fizzy pop bottle, cut the bottom off about 4 inches up. Prick some holes in for drainage, and you have your own plant pot with its very own propagator (traps heat in and encourages seed growth, much like a greenhouse). Keep these on a windowsill for maximum light, and watch your seeds sprout up in no time at all. Further to this, always buy in bulk, this gets thrown around a lot, but it really does bring the costs down.

Also only take what you need, as food begins to decompose from the moment you pick it, losing flavour and structure.

When it comes to cooking your food, be adventurous. You may have decided to grow foods that you would have never thought of trying before. But I guarantee that the food you have grown will taste so much better than mass produced foods. It is important to pick the foods when they are at their best/peak. Most seed packets will give a guide on how long it takes, but weather can influence this. When you think they are ready take a sample and try before you commit to harvesting everything in your garden. A great website for tasty recipes is www. – I have used this many a time to pretend I know how to cook for my girlfriend. Works every time! I hope this blog has been of some use, best of luck, Dene.

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale On The Ground | Spring 2013


Vo l u n t e e r s S T E P u p t o the mark for refuge

Changing Lives: Jeff Changing lives is at the heart of our organisation. It’s what all our projects work towards and what motivates Groundwork staff and volunteers. Here’s a recent example... Ex-offender Jeff secured full-time work with help from our Employability Skills and Vocational Training teams... After serving a long sentence in prison I was apprehensive about being released and was worried about what the future had in store for me. I had tried to get help from people inside with regards to getting a job but I just felt like I was not getting any support. I managed to find a place to live with my family but knew that I needed to get a job or there was a good chance I might end up back in jail. Groundwork have been fantastic, without their support I wouldn’t have gained my CSCS card which I needed for a training course operating and signalling cranes. I also got some extra help from the trainers on the Employability Skills course who helped me reword my C.V. and application forms and gave me encouragement and motivation. I have managed to get an interview and I am pleased to say that I have just passed my crane certificate. I had a telephone interview this morning and I start work on Monday. I am very pleased with all the help I got from Groundwork and the interview techniques I got from Ian and Will. I am going to concentrate on my training as I was told not to get complacent and to continue to invest in training so I can stay in work. 6

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale On The Ground | Spring 2013

A group of volunteers have completed a project to refurbish the overnight stop at Sanctuary Trust in Rochdale. The Sanctuary Trust Emergency Project (STEP), previously damaged by vandals, was brought back to life by our Rochdale Community Action Team volunteers who carried out painting and decorating. David Lackner-Smith, CEO for Sanctuary Trust, said: “We have always endeavoured to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in society and we were devastated when this property was broken into for the copper pipes. This left the property flooded and needing a lot of renovation. We looked to claim on our insurance but because the property had been empty due to loosing Supporting People funding, the insurance did not settle. This left us without the resources to complete the work to open the STEP project.” Team member Martin Woodland, aged 26, added: “Groundwork and the RCAT course has helped me a lot with training (health & safety, painting, manual handling, etc), given me a lot more confidence in working as a team and being able to help others.” The next Rochdale Community Action team starts on 15th July. For more details contact James Oldham; or call James on 0161 624 1444 or 07850 310 731.

Groundwork do the business too In addition to helping individuals and community groups, Groundwork also supports businesses. We help organisations reduce their negative impact on the environment and have a positive impact on their local neighbourhood. This may involve attending one of our training courses, benefitting from our expert consultants or utilising our free recruitment services to source employees from the local area. For further information contact Chris Caldwell; or call 0161 624 1444.

Tw o t e a m s o f t r a i n e e s start work in Rochdale

We want your empty homes in Rochdale

In April, new teams of learners started on two of our employed training programmes in Rochdale. The Green Team and NEAT programmes provide training for local unemployed people whilst also completing a range of improvements to public spaces across Rochdale.

Our innovative housing programme, delivered in partnership with Rochdale Council and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, is targeting home owners with empty properties in a bid to increase the level of rentable homes in the borough. We can renovate the house, manage the property for up to 10 years and provide genuine returns for landlords. For more details contact Phil Treaton; or call 0161 624 1444.

Zak Kirby, a NEAT participant who completed his 12 month programme in March, commented: “It has been the best year of my life working for Groundwork. The people and the place will always be special to me.�

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale On The Ground | Spring 2013


Canal & R i v e r Tr u s t mapping

Grounds for play and learning

As part of the Canal & River Trust National Access Project, Groundwork volunteers have been busy mapping the canal network and looking for anything that might be a barrier to access.

Our Landscape Design and Contracts teams have been busy improving the grounds of two local schools.

Armed with the ‘NAP APP’ on a tablet computer, volunteers have been walking sections from Manchester up to Hebden Bridge across to Mirfield and down to Stalybridge via Uppermill. The volunteers looked for areas that could be improved as well as any heritage features and points of refreshment.

St Annes Primary School in Royton is about to recieve a playground makeover complete with a new amphitheatre (incorporating 55 tonnes of boulders), planting zones and newly laid footpaths. Work is also under way at Delph Primary School on a second phase of improvements. This project includes a new outdoor classroom, dry stone walling and new path network.

G o o d b y e l a t e s t V PA’s We’ve recently said goodbye to our most recent team of Volunteer Project Assistants. These volunteers, many of whom are graduates looking to boost their experience, spent the last three months on a wide range of placements. In addition to gaining valuable work experience and project management skills, VPAs work towards a Level 3 qualification in Community Volunteering and complete a range of other training courses. Our next VPA placements start in June. For more details visit

Contact Us

About Us

Give us a call - 0161 624 1444

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale helps people and organisations make changes in order to create better neighbourhoods, to build skills and job prospects, and to live and work in a greener way. We’re a registered charity with 30 years of experience working with partners to deliver successful projects in the Oldham and Rochdale area.

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Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale, Environment Centre, Shaw Road, Higginshaw, Oldham OL1 4AW

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On The Ground Spring 2013  

Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale's Quarterly Newsletter - Spring 2013 edition. This issue includes details of two community growing projects and...