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.

Almost…

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.

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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.

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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

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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 on tour Summer 2014 in Islington

Summer’s here and we’ve been out and about in Islington with a bit of Community Card Making.

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Firstly we celebrating Islington Giving Week with a ‘Time to Give’ event at the Kindness Offensive free book shop. Check out a video of the event here.  We really enjoyed collaborating with other Islington projects to demo live micro volunteering. People came along and made cards for random acts of kindness, as well as had a go at some lace making with Age UK Islington, smoothie making with Foodcycle and the tweet and bounce challenge with the Saturday Night Out.

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On the 12th of July Here To popped up at the Manor Gardens Summer Fair. The sun was shining and loads of people got involved in creating birthday cards for the members of the Friendship Network. It was lovely to see some many families getting involved in bite-size volunteering!

The Here To on tour event would not be the same without a bit of magic from our wizards. A big thanks goes to Joanna Massie for spending a couple of hours getting creative at the fair with the community cardmaking.  We’ve got lots more events planned so check out how you can become a wizard here.

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Next we’ll be at the Whitecross Street Party on Saturday 19th of July and several more events are in the pipeline over the summer.

We are constantly updating our website so keep an eye out, or let us know of what you’d like to see more of!

Tweet us @HereToIslington 

Check out our Facebook page too!

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Here To give event

Here To Islington has joined forces with Islington Giving, Handmade Alliance, Age UK , the Saturday Night Out and many more to celebrate Islington Giving week 2014!

It all takes place at the amazing Kindness Offensive Bookshop on Tuesday 10th June 6-8pm, 273 Camden Road, London N7 0JN. Get your free ticket here!

Islington giving week takes place between 9th and 15th of June with a series of events to show how anyone can become involved in the local community.

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Here To Islington will be leading a Community Card Making Activity to be delivered as Random Acts of Kindness. Everyone is welcome. To find out more click here.

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Wait there’s more!….

We’re gearing up for summer in Islington and plan to get involved in some of Islington’s fabulous community events. We would love you to join us! Click here for more info!

 And Finally…..

Keep your eyes peeled on the Here To website, new opportunities are being added all the time. Can’t find what you want, use our ‘Match me to an opportunity’ service to find your perfect opportunity!

We love playing volunteer cupid but we would also like to know how it all works out, please let us know your feedback of your experience with the project to help improve volunteering in Islington.

Get in touch!

Here’s how to contact us

Phone: 020 3475 3825

Email hello@hereto.org

Twiiter: @HereToIslington

Facebook Here To Islington

 

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… 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 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