Post Cards From The Past – Looking forward to Cally Fest

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As we near our Post Cards From The Past debut we are getting excited about the levels of interest from you lovely people.

We are looking forward to showcasing the work of some awesome new up and coming designers who have been putting together some fancy banners, pretty postcards and creative bits and bobs to make our stall positively pop in our next Here To Pop-Up.

Having thought long and hard about how best to collaborate with our friends at Age-Uk, we decided what better than to celebrate all the wonderful stories their clients will have to offer, collecting, collating and celebrating memories of Islington past and present.

We are still on the look out for blog writers interested in documenting our fun goings-ons at Cally Fest, as well as a photographer to capture the special moments and even more excitingly a collection of actors to bring these stories to life in and around Caledonian Road. Anybrilliantbody out there?

Expect pretty postcards, silly and serious stories, washing line art and a Here To Pop-Up Buzz…

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(Ps…looking forward to all of the other awesome offerings at the festival)

 

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… flashback to Student Volunteering Week 2014

Students have a long history of being an incredibly powerful and valuable resource when it comes to supporting the voluntary sector and local communities.

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As former students ourselves, we know that the typical student stereotype – ‘lazy binge drinkers who just don’t care’ – really isn’t as widespread as people might think.

But now, research from NUS to coincide with Student Volunteering Week 2014 includes data that proves it: nearly a third of students volunteer for c. 44 hours a year!

So, when Here To was approached by City University to support their Student Volunteering Week on campus, we jumped at the chance to reinforce the message that students are a positive force for social good to the people of Islington!

How did we help?

Firstly, we opened up our ‘little black book’ and connected the City University team to 2 of our most popular projects: the Saturday Night Project and the Finsbury & Clerkenwell Volunteers lunch club. These were added to the volunteering schedule for the week for students to sign up to and, as a result, 20 City University students helped out across these two opportunities.

Here To also ran an activity at the Student Union for SWV 2014. Aiming to spread so-called ‘random acts of kindness’ and to connect students to people in Islington they might not usually meet, we enabled students to tap into their creative side with a bit of Community Card-making.

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‘What’s Community Card-making?!’ we hear you cry. Simply: it’s spending a small amount of time and effort making a card for someone you do not know that will bring some happiness to their day.

Here’s a brief guide…

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…and some City University students making their cards!

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The national SVW 2014 campaign even got behind the idea, and included Community Card-making as one of their 50 Good Deeds on Facebook!

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After making the cards, we joined another group of City University students the following day at the Everleigh Street Community Garden. In between painting benches and cutting back overgrown bushes, a couple of students joined us to deliver the batch of brightly coloured envelopes to unsuspecting Islington residents.

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It was all very exciting!

To explain the initiative, we put some stickers on the back of the cards that also invited people to respond if they wanted to.

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We weren’t too hopeful, so were pleasantly surprised to receive the following letter a week later:

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It just goes to show how easy it is to connect with people outside your own immediate network or area, and how small gestures can make a meaningful difference: just add stickers and crayons!

As ever, it was great to join forces with City University and to contribute to SVW 2014. We will leave you with a short summary video below that recaps what they got up to throughout the week, and showcases all that is great about student volunteering.

Enjoy!

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We’re Here To… pilot a new project with Islington Aftercare

At Here To, we’re always on the look-out for new ways we can support local people in Islington to get perks and new skills from helping out on local projects. But even better, is when one of our very own Here To helpers comes forward with a new idea for a collaboration. Enter Joe Mitchell!

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The background

Joe first used the Here To website to find a volunteering opportunity when he moved to Archway last year. After a positive experience helping out at DORCAS, a local befriending project, Joe started to explore the idea of getting Here To involved in the work he does for his day job at SHP.

SHP stands for Single Homeless Project, and it’s a charity driven to improve the quality of life of homeless and vulnerable people in London. SHP have been recently commissioned by Islington Council to run Islington Aftercare, a service that supports people in recovery to get into education, training, employment and volunteering.

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After a couple of joint meetings, it became clear that Here To’s approach to volunteering – bite-sized, clear and perks-based – was best-placed to support SHP to build the confidence of its clients in this area.

We therefore got to work and collaboratively designed a 1-week intensive programme that included 2 training sessions and 2 opportunities to help out locally in Islington. The key aim of the pilot project was to enable SHP’s clients to experience volunteering in small ways (with no obligation to commit in the longer term), and to boost their confidence, self-awareness and knowledge of what volunteering is all about. Exciting stuff!

What happened?

It’s safe to say that the overall, the week-long pilot was an extremely positive experience for everyone involved: SHP clients, SHP staff, the Here To team and the 2 Islington projects we supported.

In the first session, we looked at volunteering as a concept, explored motivations, barriers and potential activities, and created our own volunteering profiles to better understand what sort of helping out we would all be interested in.

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In the second session, we mapped out the key steps of the typical volunteer journey and led some empathy exercises to better understand the pressures faced by local projects in Islington, and why they might need people to help out.

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After 2 classroom based sessions, we then launched into helping out on 2 local projects. The first was Finsbury and Clerkenwell Volunteers’ lunch club in Old Street, where we served food and socialised with guests…

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…an the second was supporting the Islington Council Parks Team with a bit of gardening/DIY to finish a natural play area in Whittington Park.

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Although a very busy week, we’re pleased to report that 14 SHP clients took part in the training sessions and 8 of those went on to volunteer in just 7 days (3 of whom helped out twice!).

Feedback from participants

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Clients’ thoughts…

Very interesting! I am now more aware of volunteering and it was useful to see how to search for opportunities on the internet

It was a simple concept that worked

The classroom sessions were really informative and set me up for volunteering – it has encouraged me to do more

The sessions helped me to explore the barriers I face to helping out locally and gave me the tools to address these

This was a constructive use of my free time

It was good to have something physical to do through this programme. Not too long ago I would never have done something like this

I enjoyed keeping busy and doing activities I had not done before

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Other comments…

Joe Mitchell, SHP – The week really inspired a number of our clients to continue with volunteering. At least 5 have already been searching for their next opportunity to help out locally with their key workers, and 4 have applied to or are keen to continue with the projects we visited during the week! The workshops helped our clients see how simple it is to find opportunities. The bitesize volunteer sessions were very popular and gave our clients a taster of the joys of volunteering and just how easy it is to help out in their community.

Judy Gould, Finsbury & Clerkenwell Volunteers – Working with Here To and SHP on this pilot project was pleasing on all sides: it felt good to support people to build their confidence through volunteering with us, whilst also having more people to run our lunch club and socialise with our older guests. We have already had several applications from those who took part who want to help us out on a longer-term basis. It was good all round!

Chris Collins, Islington Council Community Ranger (North Area)Being one of the volunteer projects to benefit from this Here To pilot initiative was brilliant! Everything just fell neatly into place and the help from the group to finish the natural play area in Whittington Park was very much welcomed. We look forward to supporting more groups via Here To in the future.

All in all, the pilot was very successful and participants reported an increase in their confidence, self-esteem and motivation to volunteer as a result of taking part. We’ll therefore be looking in the coming weeks to see how we can offer this programme on a more regular basis for SHP’s clients.

It really is amazing what you can achieve in a week!

We’re Here To… celebrate #microday

Saturday 15 March 2014 was the first ever Microvolunteering Day, a chance for volunteer-involving organisations and people to join together to demonstrate the power and potential of the micovolunteering concept.

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Microvolunteering is defined by the Institute of Volunteering Research as ‘bite-sized volunteering with no commitment to repeat and with minimum formality, involving short and specific actions that are quick to start and complete’.

So basically, small, fun and flexible ways for people to help out quickly and easily – the sort that we’re really keen on here at Here To!

Led by Help from Home and other partner organisations including Here To, Microvolunteering Day invited individuals to complete micro-tasks in as little as 10 minutes, and advice and resources were made available to help charities and community projects to embrace the idea.

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How we celebrated #MicroDay

As well as telling the Here To community about Microvolunteering Day through newsletters and on our social media channels, we also held our own ‘microvolunteering party’ as part of Tollington Community Open Day held at Islington Arts and Media School (IAMS).

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17 pupils from the school volunteered a couple of hours to help the Tollington Ward Partnership (who were running the event) to find out more about what people thought of living in the area through a questionnaire.

In just 4 hours, the group of young people got 149 responses from guests, which equates to 69 hours of microvolunteering in total!

A big well done to the Year 11 pupils at IAMS who made this possible and all those involved in organising Tollington Community Open Day.

The findings from the survey will be used to help Councillors in the area and the Tollington Ward Partnership in their future decision-making.

Until next year!

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If you’re interested in taking part in microvolunteering, visit the Here To website and sign up to something that takes your fancy.

If you’re interested in adopting the approach in your organisation, please get in touch with us by emailing hello@hereto.org. We’re Here To help and have run training on microvolunteering for volunteer-involving charities.

Here To… offer Food for Thought

Having just celebrated Here To’s 1st birthday, we’re now having a good old think about how we can create the right environment and support for the Here To community to continue to flourish in our 2nd year.

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The Here To journey first started all the way back in the summer of 2012 when two companies called Isledon and FutureGov came together to create an online volunteer brokerage for Islington. Central to the development of this movement, was you: the local people and local organisations who would be using it. Some people call this co-design, co-production or (for all the techies) Agile Software Development. But basically, it means involving the people who are going to use a product/service to make key decisions about its creation and development: from its name, to what it looks like and its overall approach. Apart from being complete common sense, this sort of approach makes it more likely for new projects to succeed as users feel greater ownership over what they’ve helped to create.

When we were first creating Here To, we sought your advice through workshops

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…user testing sessions

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…at community events

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and on the streets of Islington!

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At the moment, we’re Here To think about how we can make Here To more financially sustainable and how we can increase the services and support we offer to local people and projects. We’re also Here To rethink some of our original decisions – e.g. not using the word volunteering, clarifying what we mean by bite-sized – based on what we have learnt delivering a dynamic project like Here To in practice.

So we’re literally offering local people and local projects ‘Food for Thought': a light dinner or lunch made by the lovely Lift Kitchen in exchange for your advice on some of our current challenges.

As well as being able to make your/your organisation’s voice heard at the strategic level of Here To, these sessions will be an ideal chance to meet your neighbours and to network with other organisations.

Local people: Tuesday 11 March 2014, 6-7.30pm at Lift. Sign up by clicking here.

Local projects: Monday 17 March 2014, 12noon-1.30pm at Lift. Sign up by emailing joanna@hereto.org.

There are only 15 places available for each session, so do get in there fast!

If you can’t make it to either of these dates, feel free to drop us an email, tweet or a call with any of your thoughts, particularly around the aspects of our service you might be willing to pay for, how we can help local projects translate more enquiries into helping out and where you think our priorities should lie in terms of volunteering provision in Islington.

We’re Here To… go on tour to Milton Keynes!

We’ve just got back from running a really exciting workshop on micro-volunteering for Community Action: MK.

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After a hop, a skip and a jump north-west of London, we met with a small group of 12 who wanted to explore new ways of involving more/different types of people in their community work.

At Here To, we’re super passionate about connecting local people to local projects in fun and flexible ways, so we’re naturally keen supporters of the micro-volunteering movement.

What is micro-volunteering?

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We kicked the workshop off by asking the same question, and here’s what everyone came up with:

Micro-volunteering is…

  • * quick to get involved, spontaneous and fluid
  • * specific and achievable
  • * event tidying up, leafleting, equipment sharing and bucket-collecting
  • * inclusive – everyone can do something that adds value in a small way
  • * skilled or unskilled
  • * not long term or formal
  • * more flexible and turns conventional volunteering on its head
  • * empowering and straight-forward

 

After having a little bit of a go on the Here To Photomatic Machine…

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…we then had a go at creating some of micro-volunteering opportunities in the Here To-style.

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It was a great treat to take Here To out of Islington and to start to pass on what we’re learnt running the project for a year using a bite-sized, user-focused approach.

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If you’re interested in getting training in micro-volunteering for your organisation, please contact the Here To Manager via katherine@hereto.org.

Feedback from participants

‘I liked everything about the session. It was relaxed, fun, informative and interactive’

‘I hadn’t heard of micro-volunteering before but it seems a great opportunity to involve more people in a different and more positive way. The whole experience was fresh and exciting’

‘Please can we have a follow-up session?’

‘Following this workshop, I’m feeling inspired and more confident with micro-volunteering and I’m going home now to work on it!’

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We’re Here To… meet Tanya!

Tanya is one of our AMAZING Here To Wizards. She first got in touch with us in November 2013 looking to learn how a small community-faced organisation like Here To works.

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Keen to offer up her copywriting skills, Tanya has been happily blogging away for us ever since. Here’s her reaction to helping out at #HereToParty, Here To’s 1st birthday party that took place at the end of January 2014…

Hiya. Wizarding Tanya here. I’m just recovering from last-night’s fun-filled extravaganza!

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In this blog post, I’m Here To tell you all about what happened at this magical 1st birthday bash. If you were one of the hundreds there – be it as a volunteer, a local project, or an ice-cream hungry potential participant – then thank you! If you weren’t there, you really missed out, so make sure you come along next year: not a single person lacked a smile by the end of #HereToParty!

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There were canapés, cakes, mini burgers, words of wisdom from the Mayor of Islington, and a big reveal of new Here To website features which people praised as set to make volunteering in Islington that bit easier.

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Other event highlights included wonderful artwork depicting the Here To story by the very talented Ji; a laugh-inducing balancing act with The Saturday Night Project where you had to send a tweet whilst balancing on a ball; a spontaneous mass sing-along with members from the Chaps Choir; craft-making activities everywhere (from making bunting to DIY nature-spotting tools); and of course, the utterly delicious Udderlicious ice cream that you got as a perk for completing 3 activities (I went for raspberry cheesecake and banana fudge with sprinkles – obviously).

And that’s only to list a few! Attendees even impressed themselves by making their own ice cream out of a plastic bag (you had to see it to believe it ).

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It’s important to remember that the night wasn’t just about festivities and fun, but that each activity provided perks all-round: for those taking part, the organisations running the activities and the wider community.

In the photo below, it might just look like people are sewing are learning how to sew on buttons, but in doing so, they were finishing-off strings of bunting for The Handmade Alliance to sell to fund their work with ex-offenders and prisoners.

It’s amazing the impact you can have in just 10 minutes!

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#HereToParty was also about thanking the local people and projects listed on the Here To website that help everyday to make Islington a better, brighter, and livelier place to live. The birthday was a great excuse to share experiences, meet each other and recognise everyone’s contribution.

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As a Here To Wizard, I’d like to thank the Here To team personally for providing me with a chance to get involved with the #HereToParty event. The night was a blast, and flew by because of all the fun I had. I was tasked with meet and greet for most of the evening, which meant encouraging everyone to get involved in the activities so that they could get their three stars and free ice cream. The star system was clever and really representative of what Here To is all about – give a little by getting involved and you’ll get perks for yourself and the community. I really felt as though I was part of a bigger picture.

So, Here’s To the first birthday, and the second, and the third… I can’t wait until next year!

Waving the Here To wizard-ing wand goodbye for now,

Tanya

We’re… #HereToParty – the round-up!

As you may already know, we’ve just celebrated Here To’s 1st birthday at the Islington Town Hall.

In just 16 days, the Here To team, 11 Here To Wizards and 13 Islington-based community organisations worked busily together to plan a traditional birthday party with a twist!

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In addition to revealing new features on the Here To website, we offered up the chance for guests to earn a FREE Udderlicious ice-cream by completing 3 micro-volunteering activities.

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The event wasn’t all about eating yummy canapes, ice cream and birthday cupcakes baked by young people from Highbury Fields School though.

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#HereToParty was also a chance for the Here To community to get together to meet each other offline.

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The Islington Mayor, Islington Young Mayor and Councillor Barbara Sidnell came along for the ride too!

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Some key moments at the event included a performance and workshop from Counterpoint Dance Company

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…ice-cream making with Udderlicious

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…live artwork from Ji

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…a flashmob sing-a-thon facilitated by members from Chaps Choir and lace-making and knitting with Age UK Islington.

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Other wonderful activities were run by The Handmade Alliance, Help on Your Doorstep, Islington Giving, The Saturday Night Project, Hanley Crouch Community Association, The Garden Classroom, Freightliners Farm and the Hills Community Trust (thank you!).

The good news is that at least 122 people came along and 147 micro-volunteering activities were completed. This roughly equates to 24 hours of helping out in just a single evening. And that’s not including the hours of help given to use by numerous Here To Wizards.

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Guests left some lovely comments on our feedback wall too, which made us very happy:

“The event was lots of fun (which is always good). I loved the micro-volunteering on site.”

“You should run this event every year!!!”

“Lovely participants, stalls and activities. Very friendly and enjoyable.”

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A BIG well done to everyone that was involved and keep your eyes peeled for future events!

For more pictures, click here.

Here To… reflect: diary of a HeadStart intern

You may remember that a few weeks back we introduced our youngest ever recruits to the Here To team: Elisa and Samira.

They joined us as interns to help organise Here To’s 1st Birthday Party in January 2014 as part of HeadStart, a new project from The Challenge Network, where in exchange for 16 hours of helping out in the local community, young people can get a job interview for a paid work placement.

Now they’re ‘out of the other side’ and the event is over, here are their thoughts on the experience…

Elisa Ly

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Hey! It’s Elisa. As you probably know, the 1st Birthday Party has happened and, now I’ve had time to reflect, I’d like to tell you about the amazing experience I’ve had working with Here To Islington.

First of all, I’d just like to start off by saying that organising events is not as fun as you might think! Admittedly, I did have that idea that it would be all fun and games (with a bit of work), but in reality it was more like the other way around. Don’t get me wrong, there definitely was some fun times (shopping for decorations and of course the event itself) but there was a lot of hard work that had to be put into it that you just don’t normally see from the outside.

The main lesson that I have learnt from working with Here To that I will take away with me in future work is that the most effective way to get the information you need from people is to phone them. I had a bit of a fear of phoning people before getting this internship, but with some firm encouragement from Katherine, I plucked up the courage to make my first phone enquiry! It definitely got easier after that.

My proudest moment working on the event has to be the actual event itself. Seeing people enjoying themselves, taking part in the different micro-volunteering activities and receiving their hard-earned star in return, made me realise that all the hard work leading up to the event was really worthwhile: it was great to see so many people being enthusiastic and getting involved.

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One of my personal goals from getting involved with the event was to get more creative because I study the sciences at Sixth Form. I’m pretty certain I achieved that as I spent half a day making huge paper chains (they were seriously long) to decorate the venue and masterminded the decoration of the main staircase in Islington Town Hall with ribbons and balloons!

Overall, I would say my experience with Here To has been a little hectic but rewarding. Balancing Sixth Form and a work placement simultaneously was difficult at times, but I’m glad I had this opportunity to experience what it’s like to organise a big community event.

Favourite activities at #HereToParty: sewing with The Handmade Alliance, guessing the number of sweets in the jar with Help on your Doorstep and singing with Chaps Choir

Samira Conteh

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Hey! This is Samira. Unfortunately, my paid internship with Here To has now come to an end. The experience was a complete eye-opener for me as it wasn’t what I first had in mind when I thought about event panning but I’ve definitely learnt lots of new things.

One major thing I’ve learnt, is that event planning is about ‘more than just going out to buy decorations and starting decorating’ (which has become a favoured catchphrase of mine). This was my initial expectation but I came to realize just how much preparation and research goes into an event like Here To’s 1st Birthday Party.

When I was first offered the job, I knew that my strengths lied in the creative aspects. So it was amazing to see our ideas at the initial brainstorm turn into being part of the actual event. It is relatively easy to come up with ideas but in practice carrying them through can be quite difficult. But looking back on the experience, a large majority of the themes and activities we brainstormed were present in the end product: I’m proud of that!

Taking part in this internship has allowed me to explore different aspects of work and careers too. When I started, I wanted to gain some insight into the kind of career path I wanted to go down.

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So taking part in the many different aspects of event planning has allowed me to explore what I’m good at, what I enjoy and what really lies behind a job description. I’ve done everything from researching local companies, to making calls and enquiries and making decorative paper chains (I’m officially an an expert in the latter now!).

I would like to say I was amazing at making calls, but at times my speech would fail me and I would just start talking gibberish (I do feel bad for the people that had to decipher my voicemails). Here’s a lesson-to-self: prepare what you’re going to say beforehand!

My experience of working at Here To has taught me some interesting lessons, like how to balance school and work at the same time (as I’m currently in sixth form), how to make ice-cream in 5 minutes and how to communicate and network with a range of different people.

When it comes to approaching people, I’m normally get quite nervous, but I’ve been able to overcome this with Here To: at the event, I spent a great deal of time talking to Islington Council employees and found out about their graduate trainee course and work experience opportunities. I also took my chances while as Islington Town Hall and introduced myself to a few people who were producing an MTV event in the Islington Assembly Rooms next door. This has got me thinking about possibly exploring event production…

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My proudest moment during the experience was seeing the event come alive. I was great seeing all our hard work and planning finally turn into the actual event and I’m so glad I was able to take part. My main job at the event was as a ‘star sticker allocator’ but I also helped as an usher, welcoming them to the party and encouraging them to get involved in the activities. This included my mum and brother who showed up to support me by getting involved.

Looking back at the personal goals I set myself for this placement, I believe I achieved them: I was able to use my creative skills in coming up with ideas for decorations, I’ve improved my communication skills by networking and approaching people, I’ve gathered more information as to what it really means to be an event planner, and networking has made me more open to different careers paths. That’s success for me!

Favourite activities at #HereToPartysewing with Handmade Alliance, ice cream making with Udderlicious and learning to knit and lace with Age UK Islington

Accolades: Winner of The Saturday Night Project’s Tweet and Balance championship (I won ice skating tickets for sending a tweet whilst balancing on a ball in the shortest time: 26 seconds!)

A huge thanks to Samira and Elisa for their hard work and energy on the Here To 1st Birthday project. We wish you the best of luck for the future!