When asked to do this latest edition of the Groundwork blog my initial reaction was what am I going to write about. My role within the Trust is Operations Manager, I’m responsible is for the Land & Design functions. In essence I support and coordinate the delivery teams that complete the capital projects on behalf of the Trust, that means it is quite a varied role with no two days the same – something I really enjoy about the job.
The team gets involved in different aspects of design and build, I wanted to use this opportunity to give an overview of my involvement in the day to day goings on in the Land & design Team and to highlight some of the success the team have had recently.
United Utilities & Groundwork’s United Futures partnership
The month started with attending various meetings with Groundwork UK and United Utilities, looking at potential ways the Trust can get involved in the new infrastructure being planned for Oldham. United Utilities through their partnership with Groundwork on the United Futures programme allows both organisations the opportunities to support neighbourhoods affected by United Utilities work meaning that the inconvenience of having the road dug up is more than compensated for by the environmental improvements that follow. Groundwork in Oldham has delivered some exciting projects through this initiative in the past, particularly the outdoor play space at Delph Primary School and any proposals and support we can offer to affected local areas this time will hopefully be welcomed in the same way.
There were two stories during the month that helped us raise the profile of the Trust and also confirms the progress the Trust is making in delivering high quality provision.
Information Advice & Guidance (IAG) Matrix Standard
The first involved the Trust gaining the Matrix Standard, the standard is a quality standard for organisations to assess and measure their advice and support services which ultimately supports individuals in their choice of career learning and life goals. I was one of the staff members interviewed by our assessor, Pat, who asked probing questions about our support of clients and learners coming through the Trust. Over the two days she interviewed a cross section of staff from the Trust and came to the conclusion we met the standard – a great achievement by all the staff.
Groundwork gains Empty Homes Awards 2014
The second came as a bit of a surprise, one of our Directors, Teresa, had submitted our Housing Refurbishment project into the Empty Homes Awards 2014 in the best Local Authority/Community Housing Organisation Partnership category. It was a great surprise to win but is testament to Anthony, Chris and the Groundwork team together with Pete, Richard and others from Rochdale BC for not only having the foresight to recognise the demand and need for a trainee model to renovate properties but to work together to deliver what has become a successful project with interest from other Local Authorities and Companies, Teresa and I now have the task of developing some of these new partnerships into fruition – watch this space!
Roch Valley Asset Transfer
The start of June also saw the completion of one of my longest and drawn out contract negotiations in years. Groundwork had been working with Rochdale BC to increase the usability of the River Roch corridor through the Borough, as part of the programme there were a number of sites that were identified as areas to be included in the Roch Valley River Park project, Groundwork at the beginning of June acquired a piece of land central to the park which has the potential to be developed into a key link between Queen’s Park in Heywood and Springfield Park in Rochdale. Now we have completed the transfer the real work begins. I am currently busy submitting an application into the Landfill Communities Fund to create access onto the space and alongside enhancing the existing biodiversity of this strategic site.
Contract delivery with added value
Finally, this month has seen the culmination of one of the largest capital projects the Trust has undertaken in recent years. The team has been busy completing an off street parking scheme on behalf of one of our customers Rochdale Borougwide Housing. Once the tender process was complete the team set about doing what they do best – helping people to help themselves, this for me is what sets Groundwork apart from the day to day construction firms we compete alongside.
As an example this particular project has seen 27 people employed on the scheme, 24 of which have come from the local postcode area which in itself is a good example of helping the local economy but I thought I could use this opportunity to highlight one particular example where Adam, our Contracts Manager, went beyond to ensure a new member of the team gets the best possible start. We had an application through our Work Programme team from a client who had lost his home, sleeping on friend’s couches and struggling to find a fresh start. Adam, once he had interviewed the person and saw the potential was keen to have them on board, helped them find new accommodation in order to help the transition back into work as smooth as possible – just another recent example of Groundwork changing places – changing lives.