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… 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… announce a takeover!

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

Ruth at the launch event

Here To Takeover!

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

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

The locations

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

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

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

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

Here To t-shirt

We’re Here To help

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

The Here To Photomatic Machine being built by Tom

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

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

bucket of community spirit

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

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

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

Here To… find secret skills at Festival for All

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


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

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

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


Photomatic fun!

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




…life coach


…twang guitars(!)


…help people





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…and draw!

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


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

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


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


Here To crowdsource ideas

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

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

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

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

The Here To Beach Hut is now closed!


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

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

Whitecross Street Party

Angel Canal Festival

* Pop-up event as part of The Challenge

The Cally Festival

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

Thanks for all the insight and fun!

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

Here To… flashback to The Cally Festival

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


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

After a few last-minute preparations…


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

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

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


…to volunteering


…remembering citations (very unusual!)


…glass painting


…and even modelling!


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


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


Here To make seed bombs

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Here To… take action with The Challenge

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

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


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

Lights, camera, ACTION!


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

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

Following a group huddle…


…and a bit of setting up…


…we began starting conversations with passers-by!


The results? Secret Skills of course!

We found lovely people who were Here To play music…


…Here To draw

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…Here To tap dance

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…Here To dance more generally

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…Here To bake (yummy!)

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…and Here To organise people.

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Reflection time

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

Here’s what some of the young people thought…


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


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

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

Here To… flashback to Angel Canal Festival

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

We hope to see you there!

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 new people at Whitecross Street Party!

We kicked off our Here To Beach Hut tour with a bang last weekend at the Whitecross Street Party. Our first year there, the self-titled ‘rise of the non conformists’ did not disappoint.

In true street party style, there was drumming…


…live graffiti art


…installation art

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…and every kind of cuisine you could wish for!

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The Here To Beach Hut saw hundreds of new friends pass through its ‘doors’ throughout the day, as well as some familiar faces from the Saturday Night Project and Rowan Arts.

Here To Beach Hut

Residents were treated to lovely free Here To cloth bags in exchange for their listening skills and for stopping to find out more about what we’re Here To do in Islington.

The feedback was very positive and most of the residents we spoke to liked the idea of using their free time better through a digital platform such as ours.

The Here To Beach Hut is next scheduled to stop off at The Angel Canal Festival on 1 September, followed swiftly by The Cally Festival the week after.

We’re still on the lookout for people to join us on our summer holiday, so if you are interested in getting social and using your communication skills in a festival setting, click here to sign up!



Here To… tour Islington

The sunshine is out (for now) and we’re getting excited about the prospect of Here To being out in the fresh air in the coming months.

Last year, we had an absolute blast taking our Here To Photomatic Machine to various community events such as The Cally Festival, Angel Canal Festival and Gillespie Park Festival to find out your secret skills.


This summer, we’re Here To do more of the same, with a couple of extra pop-up events thrown into the mix as well.

We are currently busy making new Here To Photomatic Machines and gathering everything we need to bring the Here To Summer Beach Hut (oh yes!) to a street near you.

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Our planned stop-off points at the moment include:


Naturally, we are looking for creative and sociable people to join us on our summer holiday. The aim is to help spread the word around Islington about how we’re Here To help people to use their free time better.

To get involved, click here.

We will be adding to this list over the next month, so do come back to the blog to see if new dates/outings have been added. If you have any ideas or preferences around what should be in our beach hut, let us know on social media using #HereToBeachHut.