Here To… meet Ruth

Hello there.

I’m Ruth and Here To Islington have asked me to share a bit about my experience with the project so far.

I first stumbled across Here To Islington at the Angel Canal Festival back in 2012 and, with the help of the Here To Photomatic Machine, shared with the team my secret skill: finding out things. I was pleasantly surprised to see a project of this nature and was keen to get more involved in running it as a Here To Wizard.

Ruth's secret skill

Since then, I have helped out on two of Here To Islington’s events: one at the Town Hall and the other being the launch of the website at Platform earlier this year. On both occasions, this involved getting hands on, meeting and greeting people, telling them about Here To Islington and getting them to put themselves through the Here To Photomatic Machine. I even pioneered the very first Here To wizard hat!

Ruth's Here To wizard hat

I have really enjoyed expanding my knowledge base lending a hand with Here To and using/testing the skills I have acquired throughout my career.

Helping out at Here To events has enabled me to master the art of persuading people to get involved with a new project (even if it requires them to pose for a picture!) and has also improved my ability to work as part of a team as I tend to naturally lead from the front.

Taking part in Here To events has also given me a good excuse to be out of the house, which has helped keep my spirits up and must have saved me a good deal on my electricity bill!

Ruth at the launch event

I continue to be excited by the huge amount of potential I can see in Here To Islington. I believe that Here To needs to make it as easy as possible for people to ‘trip over it’ as I did back in 2012, and I am looking forward to helping that happen by giving regular feedback. I also think it would be great to think of ways the Here To Wizards can work more collaboratively to spread the word about Here To.

If you would like to know more about Here To and what it’s like to be involved, I will be at The Cally Festival on Sunday 8 September with the team.

Do drop by and say hello!

Here To… create with The Challenge

Since Here To Islington launched in January 2013, the Here To Photomatic Machine has been forever by our side: at summer festivals, Here To How To information sessions or even on the bus. Choosing to reveal itself as a photo-booth or just a cardboard frame, the Here To Photomatic Machine remains a trusty sidekick.

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So when we got the chance to work with young people from The Challenge, we felt it was the right time to extend the family of Here To Photomatic Machines.

Part of the National Citizen Service, The Challenge brings together young people from very different backgrounds and, through a series of challenges, bonds them together and inspires them to take on more active roles in their communities.

A four part programme, Here To Islington is working with one group of young people on their Real Challenge.

The workshop

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In preparation for the Real Challenge, we ran a 90 minute workshop with 11 very energetic and creative young people. This was a chance for them to learn more about Here To and to understand what we do, how we do it and why.

We started with an ice-breaker…

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…and then transitioned into a group discussion about volunteering as a concept.

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Everyone then had a go on the (now vintage) Here To Photomatic Machine…

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…and then we got stuck into the making some new ones.

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At the end of the session, each group revealed their new Here To Photomatic Machine to the rest of the group and shared a few details on what inspired their visual direction.

As you can see below, we now have a Here To Photomatic Machine for every occasion!

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The Real Challenge is set to take place in September 2013, and we will be taking the Here To Photomatic Machines we made earlier out onto the streets of Islington.

The young people will be thinking of ways to use them as conversation-starters with people, an activity which is designed to get the word out about Here To Islington, but also to build their confidence, leadership and public speaking skills.

We’re looking forward to it!

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UPDATE: We have now completed The Real Challenge. Take a look at what happened by clicking here.

 

Here To… meet Age UK Islington

Jane and Ellie here from Age UK Islington. We just wanted to share a bit about our experience with Here To so far from the point of view of an organisation.

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We first found out about Here To before it even existed. We heard that Isledon and FutureGov (the creators) were joining forces to co-design a brand new approach to volunteering, and we wanted to be involved. We’re unafraid of thinking differently and are keen to reinvigorate the image of volunteering and helping older people too.

As a result, we put a lot of energy into the development phase of Here To and gave some insights that have helped shaped the project today. It was really enjoyable to have this level of input and to know that our views were being considered in the design.

Now, we have 4 different members of our staff using Here To across Age UK Islington and we are developing a portfolio of opportunities. We have already had 7 helpers placed within our organisation as a result, and we are confident that this number will grow as the website does.

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As an organisation, we are very happy with the look and feel of the Here To website and believe the use of icons and other design techniques have created a contemporary appearance that will help us reach new (younger) volunteer audiences.

The underlying principles of Here To – skills, perks and bite-sized opportunities – have helped us also to think more about what we actually want from our volunteers, and how we might benefit from changing the emphasis when making calls to action.

We would like to see some changes to the dates concept for opportunities and also the photo uploading mechanism, but overall the online wizard to help organisations create new projects is clear and beautiful to use.

In terms of boosting Here To, we would suggest organising more activity offline to get out and grab people. We took part in the Here To Give Local event in June running a postcard-making workshop, and it was a really great experience that brought the website to life. Not only did it bring our clients together, but the event also created a space for new connections to form with other local organisations. One of our clients was even inspired to become a volunteer with us at Age UK Islington at Give Local and is currently undergoing training to prepare herself for such a role. So there is huge potential here for engagement!

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We also think that Here To could get more local projects signed-up by sharing national insights and intelligence on voluntary matters. We would certainly find short, tweet-like summaries very helpful, as some of these updates and newsletters take a long time to read!

Moving forward, we are keen to continue to work together with Here To Islington and would particularly love to take part in future events. We still have lots of new opportunities to explore, but are glad to see this bold approach taking root in Islington.

Here To… meet Shannon

Hi there. I’m Shannon and Here To Islington have asked me to share how I got involved with the project by writing a success story.

Like Stephanie, I work for ELBA and I came across Here To Islington and Give Local through a recommendation from Islington Giving.

Here To... Give LocalI wanted to join in with Give Local to get a clearer picture of what community groups were doing in Islington to help inform my work. And despite being a seasoned volunteer, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the day on a more personal level. It was a lot more fun that I expected!

The highlight for me was the fact that I was both able to help run the event, but also take part in the activities on offer. I got a real happiness boost from that combination. Leafleting to the public to get people into the event was a really interesting experience and the drama workshops by North London Cares and City Academy were fantastic. I used to do a lot of drama when I was growing up, and those workshops have inspired me to get back into one of the hobbies of my youth!

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The drama session also meant I could connect with others and meet some older people: a chance I don’t really get very often. I also loved the treasure hunt run by Islington Community Theatre on the day too. I just wish I had more time for the smoothie bike and the cushion-making workshop!

Here To meet new people

Taking part in Give Local has helped me to realise just how interconnected local projects are in Islington, and it has given me new contacts and knowledge that will help with my work on the BIG Alliance. I give around 20 hours of my time each month to good causes, so Here To have given me yet another positive experience of giving locally.

As a result, I would definitely consider looking at the Here To Islington website in the future if I find the time for a new opportunity, and I would be interested in helping out at similar events.

Perhaps I will see you there?

 

Here To… meet Stephanie

Hi! Stephanie here.

I helped out at Give Local recently, which was a real community occasion. Here To Islington have since invited me to share how it went through a success story.

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Working for ELBA at the time, I came across Here To through Islington Giving, one of the organisations I was working closely with as part of my job.

On hearing about the Give Local event, I was particularly motivated to get involved because it sounded like a great opportunity to meet Islington residents, to have a chat with them and to understand if and how they wanted to get involved helping out on local projects.

I was able to do this and more at Give Local and the event really exceeded my expectations. It was excellent how the day was broken up, and I valued the mixture of helping out and having fun at the event. This enabled me to use my skills effectively, but also to explore some new areas of interest.

After a very informative morning briefing, I was part of a team flyering near Angel tube station. This was great fun but also a bit daunting (in a good way!). This brief leafleting experience really boosted my communications skills and built my resilience in a way that was different to my day job.

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The smoothie bike and treasure hunt activities were my favourites, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed some of the more creative activities. I don’t really consider myself to be a ‘creative person’, but taking part in the Type Tastings workshop may have changed my mind! The activities at Give Local made me realise that I am much more creative than I thought I was, which was a real light-bulb moment for me.

In terms of what I gained from taking part in Give Local, I certainly left the event feeling much more connected to what was going on in Islington on the ground, and I was able to make lots of useful contacts.

I would welcome other opportunities to get involved in similar ways in the future and Here To should do more to capture the enthusiasm of helpers like myself after these sorts of events.

I regularly give my time to local projects as a mentor and community event organiser, so I am open to ideas! I think the Here To approach is really innovative and user-friendly and I am curious to see how it progresses.

 

Here To… introduce success stories!

An important part of the Here To process is to regularly check-in with the residents, organisations and community groups using the website.

This offers us a great chance to find out about people’s Here To success stories: why they decided to get involved, how they have benefited as a result and how they think we can improve the Here To experience.

Teamwork at Give Local

Apart from enjoying a good chat with everyone involved, we’re Here To share these success stories to capture your imagination and to invite you to join our movement!

We believe that the more people we can get on the Here To bus (a plan for the future perhaps?!), the more we can help residents use their free time better, and the more we can help local organisations to find the right people with the right skills to lend a hand.

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We’re also Here To remain open to your feedback. So we don’t just use our success stories to rave about what’s happening, but we also share ideas suggested by the Here To community as to how we can make Here To better.

We will upload success stories to the blog and our social media channels as they happen, and add links to those at the bottom of this blog post too.

Stay tuned!