We’re Here To… meet Citizens Advice Bureau Isington

My name is Mamello and I work at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Islington which is located inside Islington Council’s offices on 222 Upper Street.

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I started off lending a hand at CAB Islington on a weekly basis myself a couple of years ago and now I work there as an employee. One of my tasks is to find more local people to join our small team to support our advisory work, and we have been using Here To to help us do this at the recommendation of our Chef Executive.

To date, we have posted one opportunity on the Here To website and we have received a really strong response rate: 12 enquiries which have translated into 6 high quality local people helping out with us more regularly. Myself and the Volunteer Manager at CAB Islington are really impressed with this and we have found Here To particularly useful in terms of attracting a more diverse range of people to volunteer with us.

Some of the concepts used by Here To – perks, skills and task-based helping – have also been useful tools for us to reflect on what we offer helpers more widely throughout the organisation and to inform conversations about retention with other members of staff. A real community hub, the Here To Islington website has enabled us to look at what we are offering compared to other projects and also to share local opportunities among staff and residents by word of mouth. We are also taking the Here To approach offline using it to inform aspects of our open day sessions and some of our delivery processes (particularly in terms of how best and how often to contact potential helpers).

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In terms of the visual appeal of the website, I personally enjoy spending time looking at all the opportunities on Here To. Here To reminds me that I am not working in the vacuum, and that there are other organisations working towards similar goals in the borough. I have even been tempted by some of the opportunities for myself!

As an organisation, we feel we need to allow a more time to assess the level of impact Here To has on CAB Islington, but Here To has certainly been a great springboard for us in terms of getting new people through our door and in polarising our thinking internally.

Thinking about improving the project, we feel that Here To could share more market intelligence about what is going on in the voluntary sector across Islington. It would also be great to see Here To facilitating wider organisational learning by getting Volunteer Managers and third sector organisations together to solve collective challenges. Some of the functions on the website, like the image uploader, need to be made a bit more user friendly too.

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In 2014, we are looking forward to working more with Here To on a broader range of opportunities. As an organisation, we are passionate about creating an organisational culture where staff and volunteers are all ‘paid’, but in different ways: sometimes that is money and sometimes that’s through Perks. Working with Here To and utilising their technology will support us in making this happen.

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Louisa

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.

We’re Here To report that Louisa, has not only used Here To for herself in a way that fits around her full-time job, she has also got her workplace involved! Here’s Louisa with her Here To story…

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I first found out about Here To after searching online for volunteering opportunities in Islington. In particular, I wanted to get involved with a project nearby but also that was outside.

I was finding it difficult to find something that worked with my full-time working schedule. That’s where Here To really came to the rescue!

A professional, dynamic and easy-to-use website, I’m certain that Here To Islington is the best volunteering website I have ever come across: some of the others are a bit overwhelming to trawl through.

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After doing some research, I first applied to The Garden Classroom. The timings did not work out for me in the end, but I was helpfully pointed in the direction of King Henry’s Walk Garden, where I am now a regular face. I help out once a month on a Saturday morning, which is the perfect level of bite-sized commitment for me as a working professional.

I don’t have my own garden so I was really keen to volunteer and be outside at the same time. Getting involved with this vibrant community garden has meant that I’m not just getting a healthy does of fresh air, but that I am also contributing to something that benefits the local community – this makes me feel proud. I have also met many local people and have had the chance to get involved in all kinds of social activities too, such as wine tasting!

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I’ve had such a great experience at King Henry’s Walk Garden that I also managed to get my workplace involved. I have always been interested n bringing together the not-for-profit and commercial sectors as I firmly believe that they can both really learn from each other. I am passionate about creating mutual partnerships and improving understanding and collaboration between the sectors too. So I proposed a volunteering day to my company and King Henry’s Walk Garden and was delighted that I got a ‘yes’ from both camps. The result? 17 of my colleagues worked hard to replace the edging in the garden ready for the summer.

Aside from all the rich gardening knowledge I am acquiring at the garden, being part of the King Henry’s Walk Garden community is hugely therapeutic and rewarding in so many ways. It’s also a very open and friendly environment, so I am more than happy to just do a bit of tidying up when I go for my monthly visit.

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Reading the above, it’s probably no surprise to you to hear that I am really happy with my current role helping out at King Henry’s Walk Garden. The overall experience of finding the project through Here To has been great and I would strongly recommend using their website if you’re interested in getting involved in Islington.

Next up for me? I’m looking forward to Indian cookery sessions and more gardening across the summer!

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Dave

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.

Dave’s Here To story is a great example of how allowing local people to start small by helping out in bite-sized chunks, empowers people to become more committed in the longer term. Helping out at Holloway Neighbourhood Group has also seen Dave’s confidence soar!

Read on to find out more about Dave’s Here To story…

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Hello. I’m Dave. I’ve been helping out at the Holloway Neighbourhood Group after a quick Google search led me to Here to website and a curious opportunity to help out with an Ebay Auction!

Having been unemployed for 2 years after a hip replacement ended my career as a builder, I was looking to build my career again and to start getting a bit of experience on my CV to help with future job-hunting. I previously volunteered some 25 years ago as a BTCV conservation volunteer and really loved and valued the experience. I was hoping I could have a repeat experience for 2014 and I’m pleased to say that I have indeed.

I am interested in all things ‘tech’, so I really liked the clear and easy look and feel of the Here To website – in short, there was no faffing about! I was particularly attracted to the Holloway Neighbourhood Group (HNG) opportunity that involved running an eBay auction to raise money for the charity. I was very surprised to see this opportunity counted as volunteering as I always thought of the term being more related to ‘care’. The project appealed to me as I am already an avid eBay-er and I live just around the corner to the Old Fire Station where HNG are based. HNG got back in touch with me really quickly after I signed up and so got stuck into the project pretty much straight away.

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Running an eBay auction of DVDs for HNG was an ideal opportunity for me as it enabled me to contribute to something meaningful locally with minimal commitment. As I am on a journey to rebuild my confidence, flexibility is crucial to allow me to move at my own pace. I’ve has also met new people as a result of getting involved with HNG and I have also explored having a go at a few of the other activities run at the centre, such as the exercise classes!

I  really appreciated the warm and friendly welcome I have received at HNG and have a much clearer idea of what it takes to be part of/run a busy community organisation. In terms of skills, the eBay action has honed my ability to conduct thorough research online, carry out e-retailing effectively for a community organisation and to network effectively: I have made contact with the Hungerford Road Group and have proposed a collaboration between them and HNG to use the DVDs to establish a film club.

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I have been enthusiastic and positive about my experience so far at HNG and this has led me to help out more generally around the centre, putting my D.I.Y background to good use and getting involved in the other projects. I’m hopeful that helping out at HNG will continue to build my confidence and enable me to get back to work in the future. I am equally open to sharing my research and tech skills and experience of surveying/building diagnostics with other local community groups if required!

My overall thought is that once you get the volunteering bug, it becomes something you always do. Some of my friends don’t understand why you might use your free time to help others, but my experience is that you get a lot back from it too.

Lucy from HNG says:

“We are really pleased to have David on board. He is making himself very useful and is a pleasure to have around.”

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Whitecross Street Party

Hi Here To.

My name is Becky and I took a lead role in organising this year’s Whitecross Street Party alongside curator/street artist Teddy Baden and the team at St. Luke’s Community Centre. I just wanted to share a bit about my recent Here To experience with you.

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Whitecross Street Party is a celebration of the arts, emerging creatives, community and non-conformity. Every year, we look for local people to a play a number of different stewarding roles over the weekend to ensure the public has an enjoyable, but safe time. This year our Chef Executive recommended we got in touch with Here To and I have to say I was seriously impressed with the project, the service I received and the number of high calibre helpers we got on the day.

I initially sent out a general call-out email to a range of organisations who I thought might be able to help us and Here To got in touch right away. At short notice and with just a brief telephone interview and an event flyer, the Here To Manager was able to support me in creating a high quality and punchy opportunity. This was a real help considering I was busily organising the rest of the street party and, as with all big community events, we were cutting it a bit fine on time.

In the post itself, we emphasised events experience, being part of the action and meeting street artists as the central Perks on offer for residents, and that we were looking for people with a can-do attitude, who could easily switch between tasks and who would be able to excite people about all things Whitecross Street Party.

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Within a week of being live and having shared the opportunity on our social media platforms, three enquires had come through via the Here To website. I got in touch with them all to communicate key details about what time to meet where on the day, but also to invite them to a pre-event briefing. I did not really expect any of them to be able to make the briefing, so I was really surprised when they all turned up in addition to the Street Party itself.

All three helpers has the right skills, energy and enthusiasm to complete the tasks I had in mind for them and, the fact they made it to the briefing meant they were more effective and efficient in doing so. They did a great job on the day, they were smiley and they enjoyed helping us out too: this was exactly what I was looking for.

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Thinking about how Here To could be improved, I am struggling to think of anything really. I have seen similar initiatives before, but I could see that Here To was the right channel for Whitecross Street Party to find the type of local people we were looking for. It was great to see too, that when I Googled the event, our Here To opportunity page was highly visible as one of the top search results.

I am certain that I will use Here To again in the future for exciting, low commitment and bite-sized opportunities. If you are an Islington-based charity, community leader or a small organisation looking for local people to help out with your project, I would strongly recommend using Here To in addition to traditional methods.

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To meet… The King’s Head Theatre

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.

We’re Here To report that The King’s Head Theatre now sources the majority of its helpers through Here To Islington! Here’s Louisa with her Here To story…

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Hi. I’m Louisa. I work at The King’s Head Theatre, an Islington-based arts venue on Upper Street, as Theatre Manager. The King’s Head Theatre is a totally self-funded organisation, so we rely heavily on volunteers to support our 7-strong creative and management team.

The venue is also world-renowned and has enjoyed over 40 transfers of its performances to the West End and Broadway! So the pressure is on to maintain a high visitor experience, and having highly motivated volunteers is a great way to get there!

I first heard about Here To via Dominic Haddock, the Executive Director, who is heavily involved in the Islington arts and community scene. I found the Here To website straight forward and easy-to-use, and the bite-sized component of the opportunities fitted in perfectly with what we were looking for: ushers.

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The Here To team informs me that The Kings Head Theatre’s ushering opportunity is one of their most popular projects with Islington residents, which is really useful to know! Of the 17 enquiries we’ve had so far, The King’s Head Theatre has benefited from 4 regular ushers who are on our books, and around 10 who have helped out for a couple of shows. I always meet face-to-face with new volunteers as part of my working day, to go through what ushering involves and to offer them the chance to complete a shadow shift so they feel confident with what they’re being asked to do.

We put on shows 7 days a week (with 110 guests for each show), so we are grateful for as many helping hands as possible! Creating the best possible theatre experience for guests is important to us as we would like to see audiences return to us time and time again. Considering the number of people we’ve had through Here To, Here To helpers have made a real difference to the smooth running of show set-up, the box office and interval refreshments.

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I am also regularly using other digital tools alongside Here To (such as Doodle) to help coordinate volunteer rotas better after getting feedback from helpers that the process needed to be more efficient. I think that focusing on good organisation enables me to manage many volunteers simultaneously for the benefit of the theatre, while also giving those helping out to chance to get the most out of what they’re doing. For example, one Here To enquirer called Hannah is also a keen pianist. We are extremely happy to offer her the chance to practice on our baby grand piano in between shifts!

Using the Here To website has helped me to think about the wider potential of bite-sized volunteering at the King’s Head Theatre, and I’m keen to design a process that works to enable more of this sort of helping out on an on-going basis.

Thinking about the future, I’m very happy with the help I have had from Here To to date as the website has allowed us to attract a healthy pool of volunteers that make a huge difference to our local arts venue. I want to continue to use Here To to find new people to help out, especially in advance of the upcoming summer season (although some of the more established Here To volunteers continue to come back to show new people the ropes on their first shift)!

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Natalie

Hi I’m Natalie!

I’ve just returned from travelling after completing a degree in Psychology and now I am exploring my career options and looking for a job. I’m still not sure exactly want I would like to do though, so I am keen to try some new things and get involved in some local projects

I found out about Here To Islington through Islington Giving and arranged to meet up with the Here To team to discuss how I could get involved. They had an event coming up called Give Local, so that was the initial focus.

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Give Local was really fun and I spent most of the time talking residents and organisations through the website and getting guests to reveal their secret skills using the Here To Photomatic Machine (above). I also got to take part in a pizza-making workshop which was yummy!

After Give Local, I spent a day working with Katherine the Here To Manager to map out user journeys that represented how different audiences used the Here To website. The aim of this was to better familiarise myself with the website but also to think about where improvements can be made. I also helped Katherine run an information stall at The Saturday Night Project where we used sweet wrappers to canvas young people’s level of interest in giving their time locally.

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I really enjoy keeping myself busy on a range of projects, so helping out with Here To has provided a welcomed distraction amid many job applications! I have learnt more about what I like doing and I have found out that I enjoy running events, trouble-shooting and problem-solving in particular.

I have also got a buzz out of meeting a variety of people through Here To and I feel more connected to my local area as a result. My communications and customer service skills have got a boost too, and I have gained insight into what it’s like to run a local tech-based project. I also got a 1 hour careers chat with the Katherine in exchange for my help and support, which was very useful!

Give local briefingLooking to the future, I am really interested in staying involved with Here To Islington. I love the fact that I can help out locally when it suits me, and also get some real perks out of it at the same time. I feel I know so much more about the website now and I am confident telling other organisations and residents about it. Having grown up in the borough, I am particularly keen to get more involved in Islington.

Very exciting times!

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Greta

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.

We’re Here To report that Greta, a local changemaker, has now become a regular Here To ambassador in a number of different roles throughout Islington. Here’s Greta with her Here To story…

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Photo by Michelle Ramrachia

Hi there! My name is Greta and I am the CEO (Chief Empathy Officer) of  Ākāśa Innovation, an Islington-based start-up social enterprise that prepares, inspires and empowers the sustainability leaders of today and tomorrow to create a world for all life to flourish.

I  first met Here To at Impact HUB Islington as part of their #HereToTakeover event. It was there that I first saw the easy-to-use Here To website and the team taught me how to make a seed-bomb! Since that summer of 2013, I have met up with Here To to discuss embedding volunteering into our Leadership Programme. But while continuing to plan for that, I thought I would check out a couple of Here To opportunities for myself.

I originally signed up via Here To to help support the delivery of outdoor education lessons with The Garden Classroom, but the timing meant I was not able to start straight away. Instead though, I helped out with King Henry’s Walk Garden’s Christmas Fair at the site used by The Garden Classroom. At the event, I helped out for 2 hours and took on meet and greet, registration and activity-based tasks.

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I had a really lovely time at the Christmas Fair: the people were friendly, the event was well-organised and the time commitment fit really well with my schedule. I really enjoyed being around the hundreds of families and children who got involved with the activities, and I really felt being a part of the event gave me an overwhelmingly positive experience: everyone was happy despite the cold weather!

Personally and professionally, I am very interested in the environment, and so helping out at King Henry’s Walk Garden was a great opportunity for me to learn about one of Islington’s green spaces and what’s happening locally to get people interacting more with nature.

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Photo by Evgenia Kharitonova

What perks did I get from helping out? I am quite an extroverted person anyway, but I enjoyed using my communications skills in a different setting with new people and also with children. I certainly had to practice thinking fast on-the-job to engage with young people – usually a tough and highly upfront crowd – to get them excited about the activities on offer.

In terms of other benefits I gained from getting involved, I really got a boost from witnessing a real community getting together at the fair, and chatting over tea and sweet treats. I’m trying to build my own community through Ākāśa Innovation, the social enterprise I have started-up, and so I felt that the experience with the King Henry’s Walk Garden Christmas Fair was a source of inspiration that has also given my community development skills a boost.

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In terms of my first impression of Here To, I really liked the cool, interactive nature of the website and was attracted to the fact that it were an intermediary with local community know-how. I’ve got a bit of an eye for detail, and so I really appreciate the effort that has gone into making it easy to understand and navigate. islington.hereto.org also has the right balance of information compared to similar websites, in my opinion, and it is a colourful, friendly and youthful online space to go to for both volunteers and organisations. The Here To website was even a source of inspiration for my own website!

Since the King Henry’s Walk Garden Christmas Fair, I have also managed to help out in small ways with Cancer Research UK and Here To at their 1st Birthday Party event. I have now also helped out at four classes at The Garden Classroom, the original opportunities I applied for. All 4 experiences have been very positive, and I would defiantly love to be involved in future Here To opportunities. I would suggest anyone interested in helping out in small ways locally to check out Here To Islington!

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… mystery shop The Saturday Night Project

At Here To, we regularly invite our Wizards to go and try out some of the live opportunities we have on the Here To website with a view to letting us know how it went as a helper. Super-Wizard Tanya took a visit to The Saturday Night Project, one of our most popular opportunities. Here’s her feedback…

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Another entry from a Here To Wizard. After exploring the connotations of and unpacking the thoughts behind the term ‘volunteering’, I have returned to the Here To blog to talk about a recent experience helping out in Islington locally.

This time my escapades took me to The Saturday Night Project at the Sobell Centre. Once every last Saturday of the month, this leisure centre magically transforms into a night jam-packed with activities for 13-19 year olds. The aim is to us the event to encourage a healthy attitude towards fitness whilst giving teens a safe environment to hang out.

My motivation behind volunteering for The Saturday Night Project was my experience growing up: there weren’t all too many places for ‘youths’ to go in my hometown. This led to a lot of hanging around in car parks and putting ourselves in compromising situations. With this in my mind, I thought that any event that can provide teens a chance to escape those situations and get them into a safe environment where they can chill, be merry, and, well, be teens, is a project worth being part of in my books.

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I arrived at the Sobell Centre at 5.30pm and was merrily greeted by the other helpers. I was pleased to see that they all looked quite young themselves and saw this as a sign that they believed in the project and were dedicated to its cause: ‘taking back Saturday nights!’ It did, however, make me feel a bit old!

Alexis, the lead organiser of The Saturday Night Project provided me with a t-shirt to wear. As I’ve written in my previous blog post, something as small as a t-shirt really does do the trick in terms of making you feel like you’re a part of something exciting and a valued part of a team.

I had a quick look around the centre to see what the night had to offer and, boy was I jealous! It made me wish I was a teenager again just so that I could come to the Sobell and get my skates on – because, yes, there was roller skating! But of course it didn’t end there. The ice rink was shiny and glazed, ready to be chiseled by skates, there was a dance studio set up, the gym was opened, and makeshift 5-a-side football, basketball, and badminton courts were all ready to go! You name it, Saturday Night Project had thought of it. It didn’t end at sporting events, either, as there was singing, competitions, and general hanging out too.

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As the clock hands hit 6pm, teenagers started trickling in and I was ready, donning my new t-shirt, and preparing myself for growing crowds. My role for the evening was to greet guests and put their wristbands on to show they had paid the affordable £3 entry fee. However, there was a special offer on that night where free entry was given to anyone dressed up along a Christmas theme. I admired many Santa hats and tinsel accessories that night!

Apparently, The Saturday Night Project I went to was a relatively quiet one. According to some of the young people, ‘it is usually way busier!’ It didn’t feel that quiet though, as it seemed as though I was putting wristbands on an endless number of people!

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I liked the role that I was given as a meet and greet/registration helper, as I’m naturally a gregarious person: speaking to teens made the task all the more entertaining and I think they liked it that there was someone approachable and older manning the entrance. However, I only wish that there was another volunteer beside me as, when there were less people coming in, it could feel a bit lonely with no one to chat to.

The biggest Perk of the experience, for me though, was doing something productive on a Saturday night. I don’t always like to go out but that’s not to say I enjoy sitting on my backside on a Saturday, either.

I’d definitely recommend The Saturday Night Project as it’s a fantastic place to go with a great atmosphere and overall goal. I would probably recommend it more to younger volunteers who aren’t afraid to get stuck in, but if you’re up for it, love kids/sports and are willing to give up a Saturday night, then this is the place for you!

Tanya : )

We’re Here To… talk about the word ‘volunteer’

‘Volunteering’ or ‘volunteer’ are words that you may have noticed are largely absent from the Here To website and the Here To blog. This is no coincidence!

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Research and experience at the time of launching Here To showed that people have (often negative) preconceptions about what ‘volunteering’ entails: read as hard to do, costly, long term commitments, lots of waiting around, a lack of clarity, menial jobs and one-way etc.

Here To is less about exhorting people to ‘volunteer’ and more about helping people to find bite-sized ways they can meet personal goals – e.g. get work experience, meet new people, get fit – that just so happen to be good for the community too. So we wanted to use a different language to ‘volunteering’ to reflect the different way of thinking embodied through Here To.

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We’ve tested this approach for the last year and found that not talking about ‘volunteering’ inspires people to see their Secret Skills differently and what they can do to help out in new and exciting ways. You just need to take a look at our gallery of Here To Photomatic Machine pictures to see that in action.

But it also creates a couple of challenges:

a) It’s harder for people to find us online – people tend to look for ‘volunteering in Islington’ rather than ‘helping out in Islington’ or ‘lending a hand in Islington’ when searching online. As a digital platform, we’re worried those people aren’t finding us.

b) People aren’t always sure what we do – we might consider the preconceptions attached to ‘volunteering’ to be a weakness, but they’re also a strength in that people tend to know exactly what you’re on about. As a project that wants to be making helping out easier and clearer to do, we wouldn’t want to be inadvertently confusing people.

As a result, we’re opening up to using the word ‘volunteering’ a bit more when it is really necessary. As one member of our community put it at a recent Food for Thought meet up, ‘I would rather than you focused on innovating volunteering rather than worried about whether or not to use the word itself’.

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We’e spoken to a lot of people about the language we use to talk about Here To, including some of our Wizards. Tanya writes below about why using the word ‘volunteering’ should be kept to a minimum and should be supported by other more inspirational language. This blog post will also act as a healthy reminder for us to avoid overusing it in the future!

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Islington Volunteering Wizardry: how re-naming your volunteers can benefit your organisation

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A quick look through the Here To website and blog and I’m quite tempted by what’s on offer: the Here To website shows that there are so many opportunities I can get involved with locally on my doorstep.

What can I do next? Where can I do it? How to I choose?

Well for a start, the thought of becoming a Here To ‘Wizard’ was all too appealing…

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So what is a Here To Wizard? Why a Here To ‘Wizard’? And does being a Here To Wizard come with the chance to yell ‘abra-kadabra’ every so often? The answer: only if you want it to!

I personally think the term ‘volunteering’ is a bit outdated and it doesn’t always give a feel for what’s expected of you as a volunteer or what the company culture is like. Committed and hard-working volunteers no doubt form the backbone of many different types of organisations, and that’s great. But what’s to stop us adding a spin of creativity and call them something different that sounds a bit more spectacular?

I believe that more projects offering the chance for people to get involved with what they’re doing should shy away from using the term ‘volunteer’. Talking about ‘lending a hand/brain’, ‘doing a good deed’ or ‘helping out’ can sound much more attractive to someone with a bit of free time on their hands. A good example of this was London 2012, where it was Gamesmakers, not volunteers, that captured our hearts and minds.

By fun-ing up some of the language, organisations and charities may be able to get people to give more of their precious time to good causes, as it is an efficient and clever way to communicate a project’s ethos.

Let’s take ‘Wizards’ at Here To as an example. Hearing the term showed me that the Here To team are fun, lively, and dare I say… magical. The use of language made me want to get involved as it gave me a clearer idea of what to expect and whether it was for me.

Becoming a Here To Wizard not only gets me more excited than helping out, it also means that Here To are getting more of the kinds of people they’re looking for, and that it creates a shared sense of belonging.

So, if you’re a charity that is looking for people to help with the upkeep of a community garden, why not enlist a team of ‘Shovel-wielders’ instead of volunteers? If you require some admin assistance, you may want to call on local ‘Administeers’ instead?

If I ran an organisation tomorrow, then I’d probably use the term ‘Rockers’ just to see what what happen and what kinds of people that might attract!

So in sum, I’d urge you to get out your thinking pads and start thinking of names that really show what you’re about.

Yours truly,

Tanya (proudly a Here To Wizard)

We’re Here To… practice what we preach

At Here To, we’re curious about how other projects and initiatives galvanize their volunteers and how they make helping out as fun and enjoyable as possible. Joanna, the Here To Community Development Co-ordinator, recalls her experience at TEDxEastend…

When my alarm rang on Saturday morning, my initial reaction was to hit snooze: despite loving my day job as Here To Islington’s Community Development Coordinator, I really do enjoy a good lie in after a busy week.

But as I realised why I had set my alarm on such a ‘sacred’ morning in the first place, I shot into action: TEDxEastend was about to land!

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Signing up and getting ready

1 month earlier, a half glimpse of a Facebook shout out for volunteers caught my eye. For those who don’t yet know, TEDx Talks are a series of independently run events that bring together inspiring speakers to spark conversations and the sharing of ideas.

An avid TED fan, I had previously organised TEDxMiltonKeynes, but quite fancied the chance to participate as ‘one of the team’ for TEDxEastend as was being advertised on Facebook (the added perk of free entry to the event was a bit of a clincher too!). Additionally, this year’s theme was ‘Society Beyond Borders’, which really appealed to me as I have spent a lot of time abroad and consider myself ‘a global citizen’.

Planning

Having made it through the selection process to the final 40-odd volunteers, I was then invited to attend a brief info session at Impact HUB Westminster, were we found out which vital cog in the TEDxEastend machine we would be playing on the day. I was assigned Registration, which was right up my street: as a people-person, I wasn’t fazed by welcoming puzzled guests as they arrived at the slightly ‘off the beaten track’ venue.

After a Friday night walk through of the space, the diverse army of bite-sized volunteers had began to bond. Croissants and coffee fueled last-minute preparations on Saturday morning, and all hands were on deck to pull off a pretty amazing space transformation!

Helping out on the day

My overall experience of TEDxEastend was one of occasional chaos. People got confused, tickets were lost and their were even the odd set malfunction. But nobody really minded: it was all part of the beautifully imperfect experience that comes from turning a dream into a walking talking reality.

In between managing the busy Registration desk, I got to sneak into the back row to listen to the programme of talks ongoing throughout the day.

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One of the speakers that resonated with me spoke about the irony that ‘the more we connect, the less we collaborate’. This really got me thinking, particularly about my experience of helping out at TEDxEastend. Sure, there were a few hiccups with communication while in the throws of delivering an ambitious and busy event. But with good process in place and sound preparation in place, people improvised with passion in line with a common vision. For me, this creativity was the ‘magical ingredient’ that made helping out at TEDxEastend so enjoyable. So, based on my experience, I’m not sure I agree with Leandro!

The overall verdict

TEDxEastend was a win-win for me, as I could both share my skills in a one-off way that fit around my full time job AND I also got the perk of attending one of the hottest events in happening in London at the time (there were over 200 people in the waiting list!).

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My view is that time is the ‘new’ currency in such a fast-paced world, and its time we made it work for us by creating more opportunities to volunteer like I did at TEDxEastend!