Here To… round up the #HereToTakeover


Following a summer of Islington community festivals, we set ourselves a challenge. We asked: ‘is it possible to visit five venues across Islington in a single day to tell more people about Here To?’

We now know the answer is ‘yes’, because we’ve just completed our first ever Here To Takeover!

Getting ready 

After putting a call out for venues and having found a new super Here To Wizard called Casey to give us a hand, we set about making a brand new Here To Photomatic Machine…


…Casey made our first string of Here To bunting…


…and a LOT of baking took place.


We also set up at one of our locations the evening before (HUB Islington)…


…which involved climbing up a lot of stairs with a lot of stuff. Nevertheless, there was a great notice awaiting us at the top which made it all worth it.


#HereToTakeover first stop: Islington Central Library

With all our essential kit in tow…


…our first stop was Islington’s Central Library 9.30-10.30am. We were positioned in the foyer and were poised with our Here To Photomatic Machine to find Secret Skills.


One of the first people we met at the library was Kass, a lyricist who is Here To use poetry and the spoken word to communicate with people.


He overheard us talking about helping out on local projects, and came over for a chat and to perform one of his pieces for us.

We then met Deanna, a teacher and saxophonist who had just cycled in to drop some books off…


…and after speaking to Allan about his job managing the facilities team at Central Library, we discovered he was an expert organiser!


We met a lot of mothers at the Central Library too, who were very interested in getting involved with a local project, but find it hard to find the time as they’re caring for their children.

This has been a reoccurring theme across all our events this summer and, because we’re Here To find bite-sized opportunities for residents, we’re keen to think about more ways we can use Here To to enable parents to meet their personal goals.

Second stop: London Metropolitan University

After the library, we hopped down Holloway Road to set up at London Metropolitan University’s Learning Centre. Reach Volunteering was kind enough to host us…



…and here’s the lovely Stavroula from Reach Volunteering showing off her Secret Skill.


We then met a lot of PGCE students who were enrolling onto their course for this academic year, including Freddie, who was Here To mime whilst eating some of our biscuits…


…and the ever so cool Terry, who is Here To engage young people (amongst other things!).


As busy students, the reaction to Here To was positive, and they liked the fact that they could get valuable work experience whilst also doing something good for their community. With a growing number of projects on the site, were could also play matchmaker between local people and projects, and recommend specific opportunities to people depending on what they were looking to achieve.

Third stop: HUB Islington

Tucked away behind Angel station, we took over HUB Islington‘s boardroom between 1pm and 3pm.


A creative space for innovators and social entrepreneurs, we successfully completed a desk-drop of biscuits and flyers to those in the building, and we made some seed bombs too.



HUB Islington hosts Debbie and Iraia then took to the Here To Photomatic Machine…



…followed by Lizzie from Islington Giving


…and then Greta, who’s Here To start-up a sustainability social enterprise.


It was great to see how a different type of ‘organisation’ (the start-up and the social entrepreneur) reacted to Here To as a place to find help and support from local people.

We were similarly excited by the projects they were working on and their enthusiasm for new ideas/ways of thinking about volunteering in general.

Forth stop: Whittington Park Community Cafe

Moving from south to north Islington for the second half of the day, we set up shop at Whittington Park.


Here we bonded with residents who were Here To craft…


…and we also spoke to a couple of very intelligent young ladies (aged 6) who drew visual representations of the fact they’re Here To ‘party'(!) and Here To go swimming.



Final stop: helping out at ArchWay With Words

At 5.30pm, we arrived at our final stop off to do some helping out at ArchWay With Words, a local festival celebrating the literary heritage of Archway.

After a great briefing from Becky, we took up our positions at front of house. Our key jobs were to welcome people, direct them to the correct locations in the building and to sell tickets.


The perks? Aside from meeting some great authors, artists and local people, we got VIP access to the events we were helping to run, and we got to wear a lovely ArchWay With Words t-shirt whilst doing so!


At Here To, we’re passionate about living our values and practising what we preach. So it was fitting to round off an action-packed day by using our free time better: it’s amazing what you can achieve in just a couple of hours.

We hope that this will be the first of many Here To Takeover events as it was such fun and we had such great conversations with a whole host of people. We hope you enjoyed it too!

A HUGE thanks to Casey, Islington Council (Cedric and John), HUB Islington (Debbie), ArchWay With Words (Becky), Whittington Park Community Association (Ann, Katia and Sandra) and Reach Volunteering (Stavroula) for making the inaugural #HereToTakeover such a success.

Here To… announce a takeover!

Now the Here To Beach Hut tour of Islington is over (sad face), we’ve got a bit more free time to spare on our hands. In true Here To style, we wanted to ‘use our free time better’, so we thought to ourselves: why not organise another event?

Ruth at the launch event

Here To Takeover!

The Here To Takeover is an action-packed day of helping out and spreading the word that will take place on Wednesday 25th September.

A group of our Here To Wizards will visit 5 locations across the borough to raise awareness of the live opportunities we have available for residents, and how we can help organisations, community groups, start-ups and proactive people to find helpers with the right skills.

The locations

Owing to the sporadic nature of the day (and the fact that you’ll be giving us some tasks to complete!), we’ll be following this loose schedule:

* 9-10.30am Islington Central Library
* 10.30-12.30am London Metropolitan University, Learning Centre
* 1-3pm Hub Islington
* 3-5pm Whittington Park Community Cafe
* 6-8pm ArchWay With Words

At each location, members of the Here To team will be available to explain what Here To is about, show you how to sign up to an opportunity, explain what’s involved in creating an opportunity, to share home-baked edible goods and to teach you how to make a seed bomb.

Just look out for people in the grey and red Here To t-shirts!

Here To t-shirt

We’re Here To help

We’ll also be looking for Secret Skills at each location using the Here To Photomatic Machine, creating a noise on social media using the hashtag #HereToTakeover and offering our time to local people and projects who need it.

The Here To Photomatic Machine being built by Tom

If you would like us to help you out in any way on the day, from cleaning your desk to making you a cup of tea or brainstorming an event idea, simply tweet or Facebook your request to us and we’ll try and get to you.

We’ll have a backpack of goodies with us, and our Bucket of Community Spirit, so the more imaginative the requests the better!

bucket of community spirit

The Here To Takeover is all about getting more people excited and inspired about a new way of helping out locally and to get as many people as possible supporting the movement.

If you’re interested in using your free time better to meet personal goals, we’d love to see you there at a time and location that suits you!

The Here To Takeover has now taken place. Check out what happened by clicking here.

Here To… find secret skills at Festival for All

The final stop on our summer tour of Islington saw the Here To Beach Hut set up shop at Festival for All.


This was our first time at the festival in Whittington Park, so we were very much looking forward to all the action!

There was also a slightly different emphasis at Festival for All which we really valued too: it was as much about sharing information and discussing key issues as having fun and eating yummy food.

One thing was for sure: we didn’t need to bring our own sand pit this time!


Photomatic fun!

The Here To Photomatic Machine was once again out and about getting snap happy. We met some really interesting people who told us they were Here To…




…life coach


…twang guitars(!)


…help people





photo (2)

…and draw!

We also had the first ever animal share their Secret Skill with us…


…and I was Here To make and decorate my very own bird box (thanks to Islington Council’s parks team).

photo (1) IMG_0451

Entertainment was running all day on the main stage, but we had our very own band of steel drummers to keep us company and energised.


We also saw some Pearly Kings, tried goat curry and got to hang out with other amazing organisations like Livibility, Help on Your Doorstep and the Islington Law Centre.


Here To crowdsource ideas

We learnt at Festival for All about how we can make Here To more accessible for disabled and blind people.

Elizabeth from Talking News Islington spoke of the challenges of keeping informed about what’s happening in Islington as a blind person, and how she facilitates the recording of an audio newsletter on a monthly basis.

Looking for helpers to support her in running the project, Elizabeth and I had a chat about how we could help her get an opportunity on the Here To website and we hope to meet up for a coffee to discuss the idea further soon.

We also met Mr. Simani who thought it would be great if we could make clear which opportunities on the website were suitable for disabled people. We will look into that too when we are able to embark on our second iteration of the website.

The Here To Beach Hut is now closed!


The last stop in our Islington tour, Festival for All marks the closing of our Here To Beach Hut until next summer.

You can catch up on all the action by checking in with #HereToBeachHut on Twitter, or reading our other blog posts related to each stop:

Whitecross Street Party

Angel Canal Festival

* Pop-up event as part of The Challenge

The Cally Festival

Once again, the summer has been eventful and we have enjoyed meeting all the people and organisations who have amazing Secret Skills to offer, and who are all working hard to make Islington a great borough to live in.

Thanks for all the insight and fun!

But we’re not disappearing for the winter: we’ll be out in force very soon in a different guise. Watch this space

Here To… flashback to The Cally Festival

The next stop on our summer tour of Islington saw the Here To Beach Hut touch down at The Cally FestivalLast year was great fun, so we were very much looking forward to another trip down to the Cally Road!


This year, we took our place in the Get Active zone near Stanmore Street along with the Islington Boat Club, boxing club and the Youth Stage.

After a few last-minute preparations…


…we arrived at The Cally Festival early  to reveal the Here To Beach Hut in all its glory!

IMG_0577 IMG_0578 IMG_0579 IMG_0582

Complete with deck chairs, a sand pit, beach games, the trusty Here To Photomatic Machine and a new seed bomb making activity (especially for The Cally Festival), we were ready for visitors to relax, play and do.

We uncovered a whole range of interesting Secret Skills from the comfort of our Beach Hut throughout the day too, from zumba…


…to volunteering


…remembering citations (very unusual!)


…glass painting


…and even modelling!


In true festival style, we also met a lot of lovely dogs…


…and the wet weather didn’t put off adults and children alike getting hands-on in our sand pit!


Here To make seed bombs

To celebrate being a part of the Get Active zone at The Cally Festival this year, we added a seed-bomb making activity to the Here To Beach Hut.


For those of you new to seed bombing, seed bombs are little balls of compost, clay, seeds and water that are designed to sew seeds in hard to reach places. Seed bombs are most often used by guerrilla gardeners to improve unloved pieces of land, but you can also throw them in your own garden or pant them like you would plant a plant normally.

We were lucky to have Here To Wizard Ruth on-hand to run this activity…


…so we were able to get our own little cottage industry going, making and packaging seed bombs to give away to passers-by.


If you would like to make your own seed bombs at home, take a look at this Wiki page for step-by-step illustrated instructions.

The Cally Festival was great fun and we enjoyed meeting the different projects, people and businesses that continue to gravitate towards this famous street. The level of community spirit was inspiring and nobody was put off by the cold, wind or rain.

A HUGE well done to The Cally Festival team for organising such a super event!

Our final stop on the Here To Beach Hut tour is Festival for All on Saturday 14th September. We hope to see you there.

Here To… take action with The Challenge

Despite forecasts of rain on Saturday, the weather held out for us as we took our new Here To Photomatic Machines out and about in the Angel Islington area.

You will hopefully remember that we recently collaborated with young people from The Challenge, and that their task was to use the Photomatic Machines that they had created as conversation-starters with Islington residents.


The aim of the activity was to spread the word about Here To Islington and how the project can help people to use their free time better, but also to build the confidence, leadership and public speaking skills of the young people taking part in The Challenge.

Lights, camera, ACTION!


Before ‘taking to the streets’, we recapped over what we achieved in the last workshop, put the finishing touches to the new Photomatic Machines and set some personal goals. We also role-played some scenarios to practise our opening-liners, and to give each other tips on how we could attract people’s attention.

After that, we then set up shop at our 2 Photomatic locations: Chapel Market and the N1 Centre.

Following a group huddle…


…and a bit of setting up…


…we began starting conversations with passers-by!


The results? Secret Skills of course!

We found lovely people who were Here To play music…


…Here To draw

photo 2 (4)

…Here To tap dance

photo 3 (3)

…Here To dance more generally

photo 4 (3)

…Here To bake (yummy!)

photo 4

…and Here To organise people.

photo 5 (3)

Reflection time

After hauling our Secret Skills back to our base for the day, we then had a chat about how it went, what we enjoyed most and what we found challenging. Indeed, it’s much harder than you might think to get people talking to you in the middle of the street!

Here’s what some of the young people thought…


Alannah – ” I really enjoyed explaining the Here To project to people and seeing them react positively when they were interested. It was also great to hear about the volunteering that a lot of residents already do. At times, I found it a bit tough to judge who to approach and it took me a while to find an opening line that was effective with most people.”


Angela – “My goal for the day was to get 5 Secret Skills photos using the Photomatic Machine. I got more than 10, so I am really happy about that! Getting people to talk to us was hard at times, especially when people just walked on by, but I enjoyed building my confidence through this activity.”

All in all, it was a really interesting day where a lot was learnt by everyone. A huge thank you to The Challenge, Lift, the N1 Centre, the Chapel Market and all the Islington residents who stopped for us on Saturday: we could not have done it without you!

Here To… flashback to Angel Canal Festival

As part of our summer tour, the Here To Beach Hut recently hit the Angel Canal Festival. We had such a lovely time last year, we just couldn’t resist getting involved for 2013 too!


We set up shop on Danbury Street bright and early and the Here To Photomatic Machine was positioned pride of place in the Here To Beach Hut to start revealing secret skills!

Those brave enough to have their picture taken got the perk of taking away a free Here To cloth bag.


There was much going on at the festival, from a floating cinema to Pearly Kings and Queens. We occasionally caught a glimpse of music and dance performances too and those lovely Canal Festival Angels.

IMG_0535 IMG_0543

As always, Islington community events are a great chance for us to hear what you think about Here To and to find out what secret skills you have to offer Islington. Take a look at some of our favourite Photomatic moments:

IMG_0538 IMG_0539 IMG_0540  IMG_0546 IMG_0548 IMG_0551 IMG_0552 IMG_0556

Our next stop on the Here To Beach Hut tour is The Cally Festival, Sunday 8th September 12-6pm.

We’ll be running some new activities that involve making seed-bombs and we’ll also have a mini sand pit for kids and adults alike to play in.

We hope to see you there!