We’re #HereToParty – join us!

Sign up for FREE tickets by clicking here.

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This time last year, Here To Islington launched at Platform with a spectacular tea dance.

Since then, hundreds of local people and projects have come together via the Here To website to kick-start a movement of helping out across the borough. For example:

  • * 14 local people have got to watch free theatre as ushers
  • * 24 have made new connections through befriending
  • * 31 residents have learnt new recipes helping on cooking projects


We want to mark our 1st year of activity by throwing a big birthday bash to thank you for your contribution, to meet new friends and to share with you some improvements we’ve made to the website.

In true Here To style, opportunities to help out locally on live projects will be at the heart of the event.

So whether you’ve got 10 minutes or an hour to spare, you can leave with new skills, community connections to local projects and a tummy full of cake and ice-cream!

A sneak preview of some of our activities…

  • * Get creative by making nature-spotting tools with The Garden Classroom
  • * Learn how to make bunting by getting crafty with The Handmade Alliance
  • * Make homemade ice-cream by inventing a new flavour for Udderlicious
  • * Have your ideas immortalised in art by having a chat with artist Ji
  • * Get top-tips on leading workshops by designing an after-school session


What else is happening…

    • * Other Here To Projects to help out on – from design to dance!
    • * A VIP preview of new features on the Here to website
    • * Meet the Islington Mayor and Young Mayor
    • * Speed-networking between local people and projects
    • * Party food, ice-cream and cake


PLUS, a few surprises!

Sound like fun? Want to meet local residents interested in helping out in Islington? Sign up for FREE tickets by clicking here.

And don’t forget to bring a friend, colleague or neighbour.

Want to get more involved?

We’re looking for helpers to support the running of the event in a variety of ways, from making our birthday cake to making decorationsfilming and facilitating.

birthday cake

Click on the hyperlinks or visit islington.hereto.org for more details. It takes just 5 minutes to sign up online.

Thanks for listening!

Here To… introduce a new team member

Hello Islington!

I’m pleased to introduce myself as Here To’s new Community Development Co-ordinator.


As a fellow Islington resident, I am passionate about bringing positive change to our lovely borough. So I’m really looking forward to getting to know more about the hard working projects/organisations and local people that are helping the Islington community to thrive.

In my role as Community Development Co-ordinator, my time will be broadly split between a) organisation engagement – curating and managing a growing number of live opportunities on the Here To website – and b) resident engagement – collecting, analysing and reacting to feedback from residents about their volunteering experiences through Here To.

So think of me as the ultimate matchmaker: I’m Here To connect local people and organisations to create a new movement of helping out in Islington!


In case you were wondering what cake I would be if I were a cake(!), I think I would definitely be a fruit cake with lots of ingredients – and maybe with a bit of a nutty edge too. That’s because I have a varied background: I love community development and I have most recently been researching community resilience in New York; I have also studied French, Spanish, Business and sports massage, and I’ve even had a stint as a dresser for the English National Ballet!

I am very excited to join the dynamic Here To team, particularly as I have spent many a spare afternoon helping out on various projects over the years. Being able to empower others to do the same is therefore very close to my heart.


The best experience I’ve ever had giving my time and skills was in 2007 when I spent a month helping out a Costa Rican conservation charity called La Toruga Feliz – which is Spanish for ‘The Happy Turtle’. Having just left university, my personal goal was to look for practical ways I could help to solve global conservation issues. As only 1 in 10,000 baby turtles make it to adulthood due to egg poaching, I thought working with La Toruga Feliz was a great place to start.

I was particularly looking forward to using my Skills and my fluency in Spanish to open up a dialogue between local people and tourists on poaching issues that dramatically affect turtle populations. As a result, I got to enjoy some great Perks: learning from and working with people of different cultures, the ability to explore Costa Rica in my free time and (of course) the opportunity to meet many baby turtles!


Although I can’t promise trips abroad – we’re strictly about Islington here at Here To! – I’m Here To help as many residents as possible to enjoy similarly exciting, fun and inspiring experiences of getting involved locally.

So please get in touch and share any ideas you may have about how we can do this better. We will be busily working away to launch some exciting opportunities in the New Year, so get thinking about how we can help you out with those Resolutions too!

How to get in contact with me


Here To… share what happened at the Photography How To

Yesterday evening saw the coming and going of Here To’s first ever photography workshop at Platform.

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Facilitated by Nena – an Angel based professional photographer, graphic designer, Pilates teacher and Here To Wizard – the session covered digital camera basics (camera functions, focusing, pixel and resolution), setting up the camera, framing the image (composition, the Rule of Thirds and ‘thinking in colour’) and taking a picture (portrait and group photography, and capturing events).

Attendees included representatives from the London Canal MuseumFinsbury Park Community HubClidiveLondon Metropolitan University and the Turkish Education Group, and the common challenge experienced by those present was capturing events and activities in a way that excites people and motivates them to join in.

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Key takeaways

We covered a lot of concepts at the first session, but here are 5 key points to remember that can make a difference to your photography right now:

Take time to consider your composition: what are you taking a picture of and why? How do you want others to feel when they view it?

Lighting is crucial: a quick way to improve the quality of your pictures is to ensure light is shining onto your subject, rather than behind it

Stand your ground: lean against walls, use your elbows, kneel down or stand on a chair to try new ways to steady your shot. And don’t forget to hold your breath when taking your picture!

Rules are there to be broken: concepts like the Rule of Thirds are very helpful, but there are exceptions. So remember to keep an experimental approach and to take lots of pictures

Every time you edit or crop an image, you’re reducing its quality: Nena will cover this more in the next session. Her advice was to try and crop your image as much as you can in the viewfinder before you take the photo, rather than relying on editing it afterwards

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Why we’re Here To run photography workshops

We’re running these FREE photography sessions in direct response to feedback from Here To users: that more help taking, selecting and cropping images for the Here To website would be really useful.

This is because photography is a really important aspect of the Here To website, and each opportunity is accompanied by a beautiful and relevant photo to excite residents about the project on offer.

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Interested in joining us?

We have 2 more sessions left in the series for 2013. Each session takes place 4-6pm on a Monday at Platform.

* Session 2 – How to make the best of your photo – 25 Nov

The second session will be very computer-based and will explore how to use image manipulation software, such as Photoshop, to make the very best of the photos you have taken in session 1 or that you have brought with you. Nena will go through basic tools and techniques common to most photo editing software: selecting, cropping, contrast, exposure, colour balance and sharpening.

* Session 3 – Using mobile phones to take pictures – 9 Dec

As most of us carry one around in our pockets, this session is devoted to taking great pictures on mobile phones and preparing these photos for use on the web.

How to book

To book yourself or a team member onto a session, please RSVP by emailing Katherine, the Here To Manager, at katherine@hereto.org.

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Please include the session(s) you would like to attend and a contact name, phone number and email address.

This is a great chance for you and your organisation to get a photography skills boost for free, so we hope you can join us. These sorts of sessions and courses led by professional photographers usually cost hundreds of pounds!

Here To… find a new team member

We’re Here To share some good news: the Here To Islington team is expanding!

Here To t-shirt

After a busy but amazing summer, we’ve decided to create a new role to support our core mission of making volunteering easier and more exciting for everyone involved: a Community Development Co-ordinator.

Despite being less than a year old, Here To has evolved quite a bit over the last 6 months. We’ve come up with lots of new ideas based on our action learning, and we’ve got big ambitions for the future. We’re Here To find a new person to join our team so we can work together to undertake new activities. Specifically, we are looking to build our own income streams that make us less reliant on grant funding, and also to target what we offer by creating mini-projects under a more general Here To umbrella.

This is a really exciting time to join the Here To team and there is scope to have a significant impact on the future direction of the project.

Are you a highly motivated person? Do you enjoy organising new, fun filled events? Is research and impact assessment your thing? Do you know a thing or two about working in the voluntary sector? Are you a master at communicating with everyone and anyone? If ‘yes’, we can’t wait to hear from you!

Deadline: Monday 2 December, 9am

Community Development Co-ordinator

How to apply – CDC 

p.s. You may have noticed that this blog has changed since you last looked at it. You’re not going mad: we were originally looking for 2 part-time team members. However, we decided to combine the 2 roles into a single full time post in response to feedback from potential applicants and to build in a bit more security into the position (considering it is also offered on a contract basis for 6 months). Thanks for bearing with us if you’ve been affected by this change.

Here To… meet Casey

Hello there! Casey here. I just wanted to share a bit about my recent experience helping out with Here To as an Events Wizard.


Originally from New York state in the USA, I recently spent a year in the UK studying at London Metropolitan University as part of my Communications degree. Following on from this, I have been looking to get some more experience organising and running events, as I think this is an area I would like to focus on in my carer.

So when I heard about the opportunity to help out with Here To, I felt it was pretty much spot on with where I am at right now, and it seemed a great way to meet my own personal goals whilst also doing something good for Islington. In particular, I was interested in experiencing a full event life cycle from start to finish.

I worked alongside Katherine, the Here To Manager, on several occasions to plan a high energy day of pop-up activity in Islington to spread the word about Here To: we called it the ‘Here To Takeover’. This involved scoping out ideas, creating a plan of action, assigning tasks, finding venues, designing activities, making/designing event materials and evaluating/recording the event. I also got to work with local organisations and projects such as HUB Islington, ArchWay With Words, Whittington Park Community Cafe and Islington Central Library, as well as my old uni.


The Takeover itself involved us visiting 5 Islington locations (with permission) in a single day, running pop-up stalls and small activities to engage members of the public. We also timetabled in a bit of helping out too and we had the Here To Bucket of Community Spirit in tow as well. Check out the ins and outs of what we got up to on Twitter by searching #HereToTakeover.

Reflecting back on the experience, I really LOVED being part of the Here To Takeover. It was really fast-paced and it was great to have achieved something as big as the Takeover with just a couple of planning sessions.

Working with the Here To Manager has equipped me with more events skills for the future and I am proud to have masterminded the first string of Here To bunting! By following a sequence of steps, myself and Katherine made the most of the contacts and resources available to us and it all came together quite nicely. I was even able to incorporate some of my personal hobbies into my helping out with Here To: baking and sewing.


Following the Takeover, I feel I now have a much clearer idea of what is available in London in terms of community building and opportunities to help out. I have also improved my communication and public speaking skills by talking to different members of the public I would not normally meet.

I have helped out with local projects, neighbours and charitable organisations/campaigns for as long as I can remember, but I would definitely be interested in helping out at Here To Islington in the future. Until then, I will be supporting another community project called Casserole Club.

If you would like to know more about what it’s like to become a Here To Wizard, feel free to drop me a tweet @c_robbbs!

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.


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


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…


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


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!






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!


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.

Jane Ellie

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.


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!


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!


Here To... Give Local

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.


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.

Type Tastings

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.