In this post we explore how our commercial Landscaping service supports those furthest from the employment market in to sustainable, green employment.


Groundwork are no stranger to providing training and employment courses for those who are unemployed. Since our initiation in the 1980’s Groundwork has supported thousands of people into employment and despite trends in reduced unemployment, the need remains high.

An essential part of any training course is the progression pathway; what happens once the course is complete. Everyone who takes part in a Groundwork training course in Greater Manchester is offered support from a dedicated Employment Coach who helps participants into work or further training. However, sourcing willing employers can sometimes be challenging.

Groundwork is keen to show that regardless of their background, with the right support and guidance, people can thrive in employment when given the opportunity.

Groundwork Fencing & Landscaping

Integrated in Groundwork’s charity operating model is Groundwork’s Fencing and Landscaping service. The team of 25 work primarily for Housing Associations and Public Bodies, generating a turnover of £1.6 million in 2021/22 through the delivery of Groundwork, Fencing and Maintenance Contracts.

Driving this success, alongside quality workmanship, is the link back to the charity’s employment programmes. Wherever possible, those on employment programmes are given the first opportunity to progress into full time roles in the Fencing & Landscaping team.

Contract Manager Richard Gee advocates this approach and the benefits it brings to both the business and the individual.

“It is important to me personally and everyone at Groundwork, that we offer employment opportunities to those people in society who face multiple challenges in life. We look past a lack of experience and instead focus on identifying drive and a willingness to learn. It’s a great feeling providing someone with an opportunity to work, especially if they’ve not been given one before.”

Renee’s story

Renee joined a two-week pre-recruitment training programme with Groundwork’s Youth Employment team in February 2021, after being informed about opportunities to work in nature by her coach at the Job Centre.

Despite feeling initially shy and reserved about the course, Renee had perfect attendance on the course and demonstrated a real drive and commitment to working in the green sector. Cemented by the employer insight sessions, which provided learners with the opportunity to hear from people working in the sector and ask them questions, Renee decided that a role as an Urban Ranger was the one for her.  She received support from Groundwork’s Employment team on the application and improving her interview skills. Renee was successful with her application and started her role as a Kickstart Urban Ranger on the 12th April 2021.

Over the next 6-moths Renee developed a range of new skills from tree planting, grounds maintenance and general labouring work.

As her Kickstart contract began to reach its end, the Employment team at Groundwork supported Renee with her next steps. It was at this stage Renee found out about a full-time role as a Labourer working with Groundwork’s Fencing and Landscaping team. This was a great opportunity for Renee to continue her work with Groundwork and secure full-time employment.

Contract Manager, Richard Gee, interviewed Renee for the Labourer role in the Fencing & Landscaping team,

“Renee was incredible at her interview. She was head and shoulders ahead of all the other candidates, despite her limited work experience.”

Renee commented,

“I didn’t think I’d be in a job a year ago, I was sitting at home doing nothing when I got a call from the Job Centre saying they’d found me this and I thought, brilliant! I’d done construction in GCSE and really enjoyed it so was keen to give it a go.”

Richard added,

“1 year on and I am really pleased, Renee has come such a long way and is a great member of the team. She is on time and at work every day, works very hard and takes advice and guidance well.  We are currently supporting Renee with Driving lessons and supporting her vocational training”   

When asked about how she feels about her journey, new skills gained and her plans for the future, Renee commented

“I love my job; I get to be active every day and move around different places. I’d like to progress up the ranks, ideally at Groundwork, if I can. My communication skills have really come along, before working here I didn’t talk to anyone outside of my house for 6 months and I found it very hard to talk to people, I wouldn’t even be able to call the doctors. Being at Groundwork has helped me talk to people and feel like I can approach someone without being really nervous.

The team here are great, my supervisor Gaz has been really supportive right from the beginning as I was quite nervous coming into the role as a girl, as there were no other girls here, but he made me feel really comfortable and shared different techniques which made carrying and lifting things easier. Mike is really inspiring too, he’s been here a long time and it’s clear he really takes pride in his work, which makes you want to do the same. And finally, I’m grateful to Richard, if he didn’t give me the chance, I’d probably still be at home doing nothing.”

Renee is one of ten people currently in the Fencing & Landscaping team who have progressed from an employment course into full time employment

Richard comments:

“We will help Renee and her colleagues gain further experience within the construction industry so that they can progress in their careers with Groundwork.  

Their development into team leaders and managers will help with Groundworks long term plan to expand the work offered by the F&L team”

Anyone who wants to get into this line of work should really explore the courses available, knowing that there are opportunities with us, and our partners, for those who work hard.”

Groundwork provides employment courses to a number of specialised groups including young people not in education or training, care leavers, veterans and people who have been in prison.

We would like to thank our current partners and funders for supporting our work and would invite anyone interested in our Fencing and Landscaping work to contact Richard on the email below.