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

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

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

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

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

But it also creates a couple of challenges:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Becoming a Here To Wizard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours truly,

Tanya (proudly a Here To Wizard)

We’re Here To… 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!

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… reveal new website features

To help celebrate our 1st birthday (along with the bash at Islington Town Hall), we were really keen to action some of the rich feedback we’ve had from the community over the last year by making some improvements to the Here To website.

Here’s a summary of what’s changed!

A clearer pathway through the website

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For starters, our homepage is looking quite different: we’ve made it clearer what we’re Here To do and we’ve created 2 distinct pathways for website visitors in terms of content. So, when you visit the Here To website, you’re either Here To find a project or create a project, and that then takes you off to the right information for you.

Match me to a project

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Until recently, people who live, work or play in Islington could only sign up to opportunities by selecting one that interests them and clicking on a day that they’re free to get involved.

But as our portfolio of projects is ever-changing, website visitors may not always find exactly what they’re looking for, or they may have missed something really appropriate for them amongst all the choice.

To resolve this, we’ve created a new ‘Match me to a project’ function on the homepage!

After submitting a few details about what sort of local project they’re looking to join up to, this information then comes through to the Here To team.

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We can then send personal project recommendations to people via email, as and when appropriate opportunities come up. This will save people time searching for opportunities and will help them to use their free time better more quickly.

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New dashboards for helpers to manage their projects

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Like organisations, local people now also have a dashboard that they can log into where they can manage the projects they’ve enquired to and leave feedback to organisations and the Here To team as to how it’s going.

The ability for helpers to submit feedback feedback will enable the Here To team to help them meet their personal goals more quickly and enable organisations to see how they can better meet the preferences of the people they’re trying to engage with.

 A new design for project header images

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For organisations, we’re changed the image uploader settings so that images are displayed in their full glory on the opportunity page – that means no more red box covering a third of your picture.

A new hub of information for organisations

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We’ve also made some changes to the FAQ page to make it more of a hub of information for organisations. We’ll be updating this information soon but in the meanwhile you can now download our latest version of our toolkit.

If you have any questions or feedback related to the new website changes, please do get in touch: call us on 0203 475 3825 or drop an email to hello@hereto.org 

If you’re interested in giving more detailed thoughts and fancy getting a few perks for yourself too, you can sign up to become a Here To website testing Wizard!

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!

Here To… introduce our HeadStart interns

It’s been a busy week for the Here To team, particularly as we’re expanding at a rate of knots!

On Monday we had the pleasure of introducing Joanna, Here To’s new Community Development Co-ordinator, but now we’re Here To share a bit about Elisa and Samera!

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Hi everyone. We’re Elisa and Samira!

We’ve just landed the role of interns at Here To Islington, specifically to help organise Here To’s 1st Birthday Party at the end of January 2014.

Getting here has been a really exciting journey, with helping out locally at its heart.

We both took part in the National Citizenship Service programme in the summer which was powered by The Challenge. We worked in a team to build and deliver projects that made a real difference to where we live.

We then continued on to take part in HeadStart, a new project from The Challenge, where in exchange for 16 hours of helping out in the local community, young people can get a job interview.

Our job interview was with Here To Islington, and we’re both pleased to report that we were successful!

Coincidentally, we both go to the same school, but we’ve not spent that much time together as we study completely different subjects at AS-Level: Elisa studies Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, while Samira’s taking Music, Drama, English and Chemistry. So between us, we’ve got most bases covered!

Here’s a bit more about us individually (and our best ‘silly faces’ in the Here To Photomatic Machine):

SAMIRA

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Secret skill(s): acting and playing instruments.

Interests: playing basketball, learning new songs on the piano, jamming to music on my bass guitar, art, drawing, One Direction (I’m a secret fan) and socialising with friends.

Helping history: Islington Food Bank – I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and I was surprised to find out just how many people depend on Food Banks as a source of food. This was a good eye-opener for me and I intend to continue helping out on the project.

Most looking forward to at Here To: planning the event and seeing the outcome of all our hard work. I hope that this internship will help me improve my communication skills in the way I articulate my ideas too.

ELISA

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Secret skill(s): listening.

Interests: reading (particularly Harry Potter and The Hunger Games), listening to music from the likes of Ed Sheeran and Bastille, studying the sciences, graphic design and sleeping.

Helping history: St John Ambulance CadetEnvision (helping young people to create a campaign to help their local community) and fundraising events and face-painting with Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice. Across all three of these opportunities, I loved feeling part of a community and the smiles on the children’s faces at Noah’s Ark were priceless!

Most looking forward to at Here To: having the opportunity to express my creative side, which is something I don’t get to do very much at school considering the subjects I am studying.

That’s all from us for now!

Stay tuned for more updates on our time with Here To and how the planning is going for the Here To 1st Birthday Party.

Here To… introduce a new team member

Hello Islington!

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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