Rosebowl Summer Celebration

Rosebowl CakeThe community fair held at the Rose Bowl on Ramsey Walk last Saturday was a great event that showcased young local talent and demonstrated the passion and commitment of all those volunteers who helped set it up, and those who have devoted much of their free time to helping out young people in Islington.

Possibly one of the most important of all visitors was the sun, which came out and stayed out, making it both one of the warmest days of the summer and a day to remember for all who came and took part.

Upstairs at the Rose bowl there was refreshments and live music, while Ciara the community gardener from Global Generation, gave a workshop to youngsters hoping to cultivate their own green fingers.

In the park, the celebration started with young members taking part in a costume parade, where they were transformed in to bees, cows and buffalo to name a few of the animals on display – with the more skillful taking part in the parade on stilts. There were plenty of things to keep people busy with stalls, activities and workshops running throughout the day as visitors could enjoy getting their body painted as part of the body art workshop, or have a go at practicing sparring and boxing with the Access to Sports workshop. Continuing with the sporting theme there was also the Reggae Aerobics workshop for those who wanted to combine great music with staying in shape.  The bouncy castle was very popular throughout the afternoon with the more junior guests.

Two important contributors were the Urban Hope community project, run by Alex and Joy, and the Urban Tales collective that had been running workshops at the Rose Bowl throughout the summer.

Joy explained how important Urban Hope was for the local community: “The organization is run from St. Stephen’s Church in Canonbury, and it’s open to anyone aged between 8 to 18 years old. We run cooking workshops and sports events – it’s a chance for young people to take part in group activities and socialize in a safe environment.”

Andre, Rosa and Fatima the workshop leaders of Urban Tales, as well as giving guidance and promoting community-mindedness in young people, they compiled a booklet on ’40 Things To Do in Your Spare Time’, which aims to engage and inspire teenagers to use their skills and passions. Rosa said the inspiration behind the booklet and the workshops was “to reach out and help people who are perhaps bored, lacking direction or motivation.  The aim of the booklet was so that local kids can put their time to good use and get a better understanding of who they are and what they enjoy doing.”

In the playground there was a DJ spinning tunes and a Circus School performance to showcase daring talents, followed by Andre, Rosa and Fatima’s Urban tales – which featured a presentation on stories and tales of leadership. To end a memorable day there was an Open Mic session for aspiring singers, musicians and performers.

King’s Square Garden’s Fun Day by Grahame Curtis

WP_20150731_001Here To Journalist Grahame Curtis blogs about coming along to the King’s Square Garden Fun Day on 31st July 2015.  He took part in one of the many speed volunteering opportunities with Here To Islington

So, in what was my first blog for Here To Islington, I happened to be in an area I first lived in upon moving to London, a flat not far from King’s Garden, also locally known as  the King’s Park.

The Family Day Out was a real success and it was obvious why. There were people of all ages and whatever your age there was something for you.

Upon entering via the lush green entrance the first thing I came across was the sight of (mostly) elderly couples ballroom dancing in an outdoor area, organised by the Health And Wellbeing stall.

The park itself is kept wonderfully and is designated as a Site of Local Importance to Nature Conservation. So it was perhaps fitting that amongst the many stalls was the snake conservation and education stall. A chance for people to touch, learn about and have their photos taken with various snakes was a big draw. Perhaps, understandably not as big a draw as the bouncy castles which always had a huge line of children waiting (and I’m sure some parents dying to have a go!)

There was a great mix of entertainment (music, face painting, games etc), health conscious events (penalty shoot outs, climbing wall, martial arts) to advice on education, housing matters and mindfulness. The sun was out and a there was a fantastic atmosphere.

I arrived at the Here to Islington stall and greeted by a smiling Joanna Bevan, the Here To Community Development Officer,  promoting the charity and running the garden themed Random Acts of Kindness. I asked Joanna more about the idea behind this, and she was happy to explain; ‘We are here today encouraging random acts of kindness to encourage speed of volunteering’. The idea made sense in more than one way. (let me know if this makes sense / anything to add)

The Mayor of Islington,  Richard Greening ,was delighted with how the event turned out, remarking on the ‘great balance of stalls and great atmosphere’ and how such events were ‘encouraging for the Tenants and Residents Association and the community as a whole’.

We couldn’t agree more.  In the late afternoon. as the sun dipped slightly, the shadows grew, and so did my hunger. Luckily for me, and for all attendees a free hot dog or hamburger with drink was provided. This excited me almost as much as I used to be queueing for a bouncy castle as a child.


Here To Summer Splashing’s

plants rose bowl

Ahhhhhhh Summer has arrived hasn’t it? Crazy temperatures of last week aside, I’m feeling rather invigorated by a rise in sunshine levels aren’t you?

Speaking of Summer…. community events and Here To fun get all the more magical when the summer vibes kick in don’t they? Well we are donning our sun hats, digging out our sandals and dusting off our shorts to connect with you all over the next coming months.

In collaboration with green space guru’s Global Generation and Isledon’s latest lovely youth hub Rose Bowl, we are searching for Islington residents itching to get in to the great outdoors and help us make things happen in our garden spaces.

Follow the link below to find out more about….

The Big Dig –  24th of July,

The Pergola Plant In – 31st of July

Any Thing Grows – 19th of August.

You can also find us Popping up in our usual fashion at….

Kings Square Garden Event on the 31st of July

Islington Green on the 4th of August between 14:00-17:00

and St Paul’s Park on the 6th of August from 14:00-17:00

Come along to get stuck in to some crafty random acts of kindness or simply to say hello and enjoy the park and some sun (fingers crossed)

Hope to see you at a Summer event soon.

Love from the Here To crew.


The Smallest Of Things. A review of Here To Kindness Cards Initiative by Rivkha Churney

WP_20150610_002The Smallest of Things

“Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference,” one student of City and Islington College said. That was certainly the case at “Here To”’s pop-up kindness cards event on the 1st of June 2015, upholding the spirit of national volunteering week. The seventeen year old hit the nail on the head. Sometimes it’s not about big gestures, or Bill-Gates-sized donations; sometimes it’s just about bringing a ray of positivity into the world.

This tiny bubble of positive energy expanded as the event went on. Soon it had enveloped even the most reluctant of passers-by. With increasing enthusiasm, students became excited by the prospect of volunteering- one student even expressing a desire to make kindness cards events a permanent fixture at their college. What had started out as the smallest of things had become huge in the space of two hours.

For a generation too often perceived as self-obsessed, the students of Islington and City College certainly showed that the volunteering spirit is alive and well. A spokesperson for NCS, an organisation for 15-17 year olds promoting voluntary social development, expressed her delight in the level of interest they had experienced, with every eligible student signing up. Yes, some may do it for UCAS points or their CV, but many believe volunteering is a rewarding way to implement their skills and show dedication to hard work. Whatever the reason, this phenomenon is encouraging.

“Here To” now has a remarkable opportunity to harness this energy. Unlike other organisations, it offers micro-volunteering, so that young people can try out different types of volunteering without sacrificing huge amounts of their time or making big commitments. As this event has demonstrated, the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Postcards from the Past at the Cally Festival by Johnny Rodriguez

Johnny Rodriquez attended our Postcards from the Past event as part of the Cally Fest 2015

The 2015 Here To “Postcards from the Past” Event ( held in Caledonian Road at the very well known festival) was an interesting way of getting social, whilst having a bit of FUN and meeting people from all walks of life, of all ages and beliefs.

I heard about the opportunity thanks to “TeamLondon“-the Mayor’s Programme, that makes it easy for Londoners to give their name and find volunteering opportunities- and as it was a “local thing”, I decided to give it a GO.


Here to Islington, 2 years old and collaborating with Age UK Islington, is an unconventional idea to

-connect YOU to your neighbours;

-give YOU the chance to volunteer in a fast way, locally and without taking too much of your commitment or your precious time.

-use skills YOU already have or develop new ones, whilst having a good time and making the difference for your community.

At the event I met Joanna Bevan, working with Here To for 2 years by now.

She is easygoing, energetic in a very positive way, and all bubbly and enthusiastic about the Here To and volunteering.

She’s not telling me too much about future plans but I understand she wants to continue creating new  social events that matter, in collaboration with Sinead, Age UK Islington and with the help of good people, who want to genuinely get involved or simply make new friends. Next, is “The Challenge“-she told me- a project to get 17 years olds volunteering.. Well, Good Luck with that !

Back to the event this post should have been all about… It was very nice going through these colourful postcards, basically representing some memoirs of our Neighbours, about their life in Islington.

People stopping by the Here To stand took a  blank postcard and wrote a memory, anything about their time in the Borough. Original, simple and straightforward.

I also left my own memory, because I do love London and am quite falling in love with Islington, to be honest.

Juan postcard

Overall it has been a pleasure for me to meet Joanna and to get involved and

Yes, enjoying some time at the Cally Festival. Also I would like to add a special thanks to Team London, for yet another opportunity to help others, and at the same time help yourself.

Finally, thanks to You, for reading my brief-yet hopefully inspiring-blog, and wether if you are willing to find out more about the Here To “thing” or not, please let me salute you with my Best Wishes for a Meaningful Life.


Card making at Islington Community Chest event by Here To Journalist Grace Newton

Grace Newton came along to the Islington Community Chest event as part of Islington Giving week June 2015


Islington Council’s Community Chest Celebration was filled with entertainment on Wednesday, with countless stalls and entertainment including music and line dancing at the North London borough’s Assemly Hall.

Here to Islington’s volunteering table, which was run by community development co-ordinator, Joanna Bevan, were producing feel-good cards to hand out to people in the festival.

Kristina Glenn, the Director of the Cripplegate Foundation who work closely alongside Islington Council, said: “There’s a real grassroots movement in our borough. Other local areas are cutting back on funding whereas in the Islington borough it continues to invest in the community.”

Jugjit Samra, voluntary and community sector development officer, writes the committee report with Cripplegate Foundation and told Here to Islington: “The council funds Cripplegate to fund the Community Chest Programme. Most groups wouldn’t get funding otherwise [but] the maximum a group can get is five grand.”

The community spirit was lifted in Islington Assemly Hall by the Baluji Music Foundation who graced the stage with the enchanting harmonies of the Inner Vision Trio. The band, whose primary aim is “to bring together blind musicians and make music from around the world”, consisted of singer, Fereshteh Khousroujerdy who hails from Iran, singer and oud player, Ziad Sinno from Lebanon and South Indian drummer, Ghow Ratnarajah from Sri Lanka. The crowd joined in with claps aplenty when the band played the popular Arabic song,  دقي يا ربابه, of which the catchy chorus is ‘Diggy Diggy Ya Rababa’.

The Islington Community Chest is a great way of funding the vital support that groups like Here to Islington provide. The main areas of improvement and investment that Cripplegate Foundation’s Finance and Programme’s Officer, Ruth Lorimer, laid out to the audience are:
>Advice and Support
>Reducing Isolation
>Educating People
>Improving mental and physical health
>Improving facilities

Ruth Hayes, 55, Islington Law Center Director emphasised the importance of the Community Chest Programme and Islington Giving Week when she said: “I think it’s [Islington] a borough that’s becoming increasingly unequal. Financially, the impact of welfare reform and income inequality have created a split of class in the borough.”

Phil Burns, 49, Islington Citizen Advice Bureau Manager, reinforced Ruth’s point: “Nobody realises it but Islington actually has the second biggest child poverty in London. There is an ever-growing number of people out of work or in debt.”

The Packington Line Dancers, who have been keeping Islington locals fit for almost 18 years, entertained the hardworking volunteers and reignited the feeling of true community spirit.

Islington youth group, Amberliegh, performed traditional African dance in colourful dress and to enthusiastic spectators. The cultural drumming, drama and dance music group for children of all abilities and disabilities followed the earlier acts, reflecting the diversity of Islington and its community.

Other community groups included the Handmade Alliance which helps to rehabilitate prisoners through textile production and the Federation of Iraqi Refugees.

Hament Patel, Director of Organisational Change Practitioners, summed up the day when he said: “It’s about sharing knowledge, information and awareness raising.”


Written by Grace Newton


Here To BiteSize PLUS

Happy Friday all…..!

Just a little hello to tell you all about our up and coming BiteSize plus opportunities here at Here To.

Having listened to you all over the course of some of our recent Pop-Ups and events we have learned of many people interested in extending their Islington contributions from ‘one offs’ to giving of more hours to longer lasting opportunities.

Thus…. Here To BiteSize PLUS is born.

Sharing and supporting through skills swapping.

‘Sharing and supporting one another through skills swapping’

Here To BiteSize PLUS will act as a specific skills matching brokerage. Pairing skilled residents up with projects in need of their super special skills and so on. Those offering their skilful services to Here To will benefit from in house training by leading Isledon youth engagement practitioners, as well as references and recommendations from Here To upon completion.

Volunteers engaging with Here To BiteSize PLUS will offer a few hours at a time, perhaps once a week, perhaps once a fortnight perhaps once  a month for some spectacular session they think they could run, using skills from their professions, passions and life long learning.

The joy of committing just that little bit more time to supporting our young people and the community is that you get to start to see some of the results, your skills being passed on, manifesting in front of you in the actions of others.

Our first exciting recruitment drive for Here To BiteSize PLUS will be for our latest youth hub, Rose Bowl. We are seeking skilful souls in areas such as Arts and Crafts, Nature Play, Creative Writing, Cooking, Hair and Beauty/Nail Art and people simply willing to impart some of their oodles of acquired knowledge on our young people in a home work club, helping with reading and writing and supporting studies. In becoming a Youth Engagement  Volunteer at our Youth Hub you will work alongside our Youth Support Workers to create a nurturing and supportive environment that enriches, educates and inspires our young people. As a Here To Youth Engagement Support Worker you will act as a positive role model to all the young people who access our services, supporting positive activities and play.

Basically if you have some skills (which lets face it…YOU ALL DO) and a genuine interest in supporting positive progression of young people….. then we want to hear from you! Get in touch and get involved.

Have a good weekend everybody.


Post Cards From The Past – Looking forward to Cally Fest


As we near our Post Cards From The Past debut we are getting excited about the levels of interest from you lovely people.

We are looking forward to showcasing the work of some awesome new up and coming designers who have been putting together some fancy banners, pretty postcards and creative bits and bobs to make our stall positively pop in our next Here To Pop-Up.

Having thought long and hard about how best to collaborate with our friends at Age-Uk, we decided what better than to celebrate all the wonderful stories their clients will have to offer, collecting, collating and celebrating memories of Islington past and present.

We are still on the look out for blog writers interested in documenting our fun goings-ons at Cally Fest, as well as a photographer to capture the special moments and even more excitingly a collection of actors to bring these stories to life in and around Caledonian Road. Anybrilliantbody out there?

Expect pretty postcards, silly and serious stories, washing line art and a Here To Pop-Up Buzz…


(Ps…looking forward to all of the other awesome offerings at the festival)


Forward Thinking For Here To


Greetings Islington.

Following on from all the wonderful work Helene did whilst running the good-ship Here To, I am excited to have taken over the position of Here To manager. Hello Here to, hello Islington!

Joanna, I and the rest of the Isledon team have been locking ourselves away with tea and cake and brain food, to plan the forward thinking of Here To and get moving on an exciting development stage. After hitting and exceeding all sorts of targets and aims we are excited to be expanding and exploring additional services that Here To can offer Islington organisations and residents.

As we move forward we will be spending more time focusing on direct collaborations with organisations to increase the frequency and number of enticing opportunities on offer to all you ready and willing volunteers. Equally as important though is our continued efforts to connect with people in Islington and find out just what would qualify as their ‘volunteer dream come true’, what makes their interest levels sore and what gets their volunteer clocks ticking. We intend to be picking a brain or two near you throughout the coming months at one of our many playful Pop-Ups across the borough. Keep them eyes peeled for a Pop-Up Near you…..

Also Watch this space for Bitsize Plus opportunities for residents to pursue longer lasting skills matching opportunities across our Isledon Hubs….

Looking forward to meeting some of you soon.


Yummy yummy kindness cupcakes

Jo and me possibly have the best job ever: Last month, we collaborated with Jenius Social, a cooking school based just off Holloway Road, Good Gym, the coolest running club in town and Age Uk Islington to bake, decorate and host the yummiest friendliest afternoon tea in town!

afternoon tea

The adventure began in the afternoon of the 16th March: 8 bakers joined us at Jenius Social and baked 40 cupcakes under the guidance of Jamie Oliver Fifteen graduate Andrew Clements. Lots of different recipes and a crash course in icing. It was very hard not to eat all the garnish he had laid out for us- let alone the batter!






After they were all cooled down and ready to be decorated, 28 runners from Good Gym arrived just in time to ice the cupcakes, make welcome cards for the elderly people and organise a quiz with questions about Islington.


The next day couldn’t come fast enough, as Jo and me were definitely ready to try one of the cupcakes. We arrived at Jenius Social and found the place in a very nice set up, all the cards that were made the previous night had been laid out on the table for each guest to find and the cupcakes were looking fabulous and well presented on the tables.


Volunteers from Team London arrived to help with serving coffee and tea and engage in conversation with our guests from Age Uk Islington. Once they had arrived it was a sight of merriment and yumminess and Jo and me could also finally taste the cupcakes- delicious.


The Quiz was also excellent. There were some pretty hard questions to answer, but our long-time residents from Age UK couldn’t be fooled. What was the price, you might ask- well, more cupcakes of course!