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)

 

Carlos’ Volunteering experience

Once in while, we get together with some of our volunteers and ask them about their experience. Carlos has been helping out at the Angel Shed theatre and this is his story.

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Background

Carlos has lived in Islington for just over a year, he moved from Spain where he had been working as a cameraman and photographer. He was keen to get more involved in his local community and share his skills at the same time as gaining experience.  After browsing the Here To Islington website,  Carlos was instantly attracted to the voluntary opportunity with Angel Shed Theatre who were looking for someone to film their end of term children’s theatre performance. Angel Shed theatre a fully inclusive theatre charity, providing specialist opportunities for children and young people otherwise excluded from this kind of activity.

Perks gained

Carlos really enjoyed his time making the film with the children, he found the website straight forward and easy to use. He liked that the opportunity was time specific but also relatively flexible around his availability. The brief was to capture some behind the scenes footage and the play itself to create a short promo and a full length DVD of the terms performance.  This year’s production was a trio of 3 plays: Where the wild things are, a Babayaga story and a Caribbean folk story.  An eclectic mix reflecting the diversity of the performers and audience.

Skills gained

Although Carlos has experience of filming theatre, Carlos had to adapt and blend in to be able to get great footage of the unique performance.  He was able to work alongside the Angel Shed theatre team to film and edit something that would work well for them.

 The future

Carlos will be helping to film at  hip-hop festival to expand his repertoire and would ultimately like to become a full time free-lance camera man and photographer but enjoys new opportunities to get more involved in Islington.

Testimonial

Carlos says:

Here To is very useful in being clear and specific, you know a start and end date which makes it easier to get involved. I would defiantly recommend it to friends.  Helping out with Angel Shed Theatre has been a lot of fun.

Joanne from Angel Theatre says:

It’s really hard for us to find willing volunteers and we are such a small organisation, we really rely on our brilliant volunteer teams. Here To is a great way for us to advertise for someone with specific skills such as filming and editing. He was great with the members, punctual, friendly and the final edits looks brilliant. The video will help us promote ourselves and continue our work in this year, our 10th birthday year, and in the future.

 

 

 

We’re Here To… meet Citizens Advice Bureau Isington

My name is Mamello and I work at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Islington which is located inside Islington Council’s offices on 222 Upper Street.

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I started off lending a hand at CAB Islington on a weekly basis myself a couple of years ago and now I work there as an employee. One of my tasks is to find more local people to join our small team to support our advisory work, and we have been using Here To to help us do this at the recommendation of our Chef Executive.

To date, we have posted one opportunity on the Here To website and we have received a really strong response rate: 12 enquiries which have translated into 6 high quality local people helping out with us more regularly. Myself and the Volunteer Manager at CAB Islington are really impressed with this and we have found Here To particularly useful in terms of attracting a more diverse range of people to volunteer with us.

Some of the concepts used by Here To – perks, skills and task-based helping – have also been useful tools for us to reflect on what we offer helpers more widely throughout the organisation and to inform conversations about retention with other members of staff. A real community hub, the Here To Islington website has enabled us to look at what we are offering compared to other projects and also to share local opportunities among staff and residents by word of mouth. We are also taking the Here To approach offline using it to inform aspects of our open day sessions and some of our delivery processes (particularly in terms of how best and how often to contact potential helpers).

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In terms of the visual appeal of the website, I personally enjoy spending time looking at all the opportunities on Here To. Here To reminds me that I am not working in the vacuum, and that there are other organisations working towards similar goals in the borough. I have even been tempted by some of the opportunities for myself!

As an organisation, we feel we need to allow a more time to assess the level of impact Here To has on CAB Islington, but Here To has certainly been a great springboard for us in terms of getting new people through our door and in polarising our thinking internally.

Thinking about improving the project, we feel that Here To could share more market intelligence about what is going on in the voluntary sector across Islington. It would also be great to see Here To facilitating wider organisational learning by getting Volunteer Managers and third sector organisations together to solve collective challenges. Some of the functions on the website, like the image uploader, need to be made a bit more user friendly too.

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In 2014, we are looking forward to working more with Here To on a broader range of opportunities. As an organisation, we are passionate about creating an organisational culture where staff and volunteers are all ‘paid’, but in different ways: sometimes that is money and sometimes that’s through Perks. Working with Here To and utilising their technology will support us in making this happen.

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Louisa

An important part of the Here To process is to regularly check-in with the residents, organisations and community groups using the website.

This offers us a great chance to find out about people’s Here To success stories: why they decided to get involved, how they have benefited as a result and how they think we can improve the Here To experience.

We’re Here To report that Louisa, has not only used Here To for herself in a way that fits around her full-time job, she has also got her workplace involved! Here’s Louisa with her Here To story…

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I first found out about Here To after searching online for volunteering opportunities in Islington. In particular, I wanted to get involved with a project nearby but also that was outside.

I was finding it difficult to find something that worked with my full-time working schedule. That’s where Here To really came to the rescue!

A professional, dynamic and easy-to-use website, I’m certain that Here To Islington is the best volunteering website I have ever come across: some of the others are a bit overwhelming to trawl through.

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After doing some research, I first applied to The Garden Classroom. The timings did not work out for me in the end, but I was helpfully pointed in the direction of King Henry’s Walk Garden, where I am now a regular face. I help out once a month on a Saturday morning, which is the perfect level of bite-sized commitment for me as a working professional.

I don’t have my own garden so I was really keen to volunteer and be outside at the same time. Getting involved with this vibrant community garden has meant that I’m not just getting a healthy does of fresh air, but that I am also contributing to something that benefits the local community – this makes me feel proud. I have also met many local people and have had the chance to get involved in all kinds of social activities too, such as wine tasting!

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I’ve had such a great experience at King Henry’s Walk Garden that I also managed to get my workplace involved. I have always been interested n bringing together the not-for-profit and commercial sectors as I firmly believe that they can both really learn from each other. I am passionate about creating mutual partnerships and improving understanding and collaboration between the sectors too. So I proposed a volunteering day to my company and King Henry’s Walk Garden and was delighted that I got a ‘yes’ from both camps. The result? 17 of my colleagues worked hard to replace the edging in the garden ready for the summer.

Aside from all the rich gardening knowledge I am acquiring at the garden, being part of the King Henry’s Walk Garden community is hugely therapeutic and rewarding in so many ways. It’s also a very open and friendly environment, so I am more than happy to just do a bit of tidying up when I go for my monthly visit.

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Reading the above, it’s probably no surprise to you to hear that I am really happy with my current role helping out at King Henry’s Walk Garden. The overall experience of finding the project through Here To has been great and I would strongly recommend using their website if you’re interested in getting involved in Islington.

Next up for me? I’m looking forward to Indian cookery sessions and more gardening across the summer!

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Dave

An important part of the Here To process is to regularly check-in with the residents, organisations and community groups using the website.

This offers us a great chance to find out about people’s Here To success stories: why they decided to get involved, how they have benefited as a result and how they think we can improve the Here To experience.

Dave’s Here To story is a great example of how allowing local people to start small by helping out in bite-sized chunks, empowers people to become more committed in the longer term. Helping out at Holloway Neighbourhood Group has also seen Dave’s confidence soar!

Read on to find out more about Dave’s Here To story…

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Hello. I’m Dave. I’ve been helping out at the Holloway Neighbourhood Group after a quick Google search led me to Here to website and a curious opportunity to help out with an Ebay Auction!

Having been unemployed for 2 years after a hip replacement ended my career as a builder, I was looking to build my career again and to start getting a bit of experience on my CV to help with future job-hunting. I previously volunteered some 25 years ago as a BTCV conservation volunteer and really loved and valued the experience. I was hoping I could have a repeat experience for 2014 and I’m pleased to say that I have indeed.

I am interested in all things ‘tech’, so I really liked the clear and easy look and feel of the Here To website – in short, there was no faffing about! I was particularly attracted to the Holloway Neighbourhood Group (HNG) opportunity that involved running an eBay auction to raise money for the charity. I was very surprised to see this opportunity counted as volunteering as I always thought of the term being more related to ‘care’. The project appealed to me as I am already an avid eBay-er and I live just around the corner to the Old Fire Station where HNG are based. HNG got back in touch with me really quickly after I signed up and so got stuck into the project pretty much straight away.

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Running an eBay auction of DVDs for HNG was an ideal opportunity for me as it enabled me to contribute to something meaningful locally with minimal commitment. As I am on a journey to rebuild my confidence, flexibility is crucial to allow me to move at my own pace. I’ve has also met new people as a result of getting involved with HNG and I have also explored having a go at a few of the other activities run at the centre, such as the exercise classes!

I  really appreciated the warm and friendly welcome I have received at HNG and have a much clearer idea of what it takes to be part of/run a busy community organisation. In terms of skills, the eBay action has honed my ability to conduct thorough research online, carry out e-retailing effectively for a community organisation and to network effectively: I have made contact with the Hungerford Road Group and have proposed a collaboration between them and HNG to use the DVDs to establish a film club.

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I have been enthusiastic and positive about my experience so far at HNG and this has led me to help out more generally around the centre, putting my D.I.Y background to good use and getting involved in the other projects. I’m hopeful that helping out at HNG will continue to build my confidence and enable me to get back to work in the future. I am equally open to sharing my research and tech skills and experience of surveying/building diagnostics with other local community groups if required!

My overall thought is that once you get the volunteering bug, it becomes something you always do. Some of my friends don’t understand why you might use your free time to help others, but my experience is that you get a lot back from it too.

Lucy from HNG says:

“We are really pleased to have David on board. He is making himself very useful and is a pleasure to have around.”

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Whitecross Street Party

Hi Here To.

My name is Becky and I took a lead role in organising this year’s Whitecross Street Party alongside curator/street artist Teddy Baden and the team at St. Luke’s Community Centre. I just wanted to share a bit about my recent Here To experience with you.

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Whitecross Street Party is a celebration of the arts, emerging creatives, community and non-conformity. Every year, we look for local people to a play a number of different stewarding roles over the weekend to ensure the public has an enjoyable, but safe time. This year our Chef Executive recommended we got in touch with Here To and I have to say I was seriously impressed with the project, the service I received and the number of high calibre helpers we got on the day.

I initially sent out a general call-out email to a range of organisations who I thought might be able to help us and Here To got in touch right away. At short notice and with just a brief telephone interview and an event flyer, the Here To Manager was able to support me in creating a high quality and punchy opportunity. This was a real help considering I was busily organising the rest of the street party and, as with all big community events, we were cutting it a bit fine on time.

In the post itself, we emphasised events experience, being part of the action and meeting street artists as the central Perks on offer for residents, and that we were looking for people with a can-do attitude, who could easily switch between tasks and who would be able to excite people about all things Whitecross Street Party.

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Within a week of being live and having shared the opportunity on our social media platforms, three enquires had come through via the Here To website. I got in touch with them all to communicate key details about what time to meet where on the day, but also to invite them to a pre-event briefing. I did not really expect any of them to be able to make the briefing, so I was really surprised when they all turned up in addition to the Street Party itself.

All three helpers has the right skills, energy and enthusiasm to complete the tasks I had in mind for them and, the fact they made it to the briefing meant they were more effective and efficient in doing so. They did a great job on the day, they were smiley and they enjoyed helping us out too: this was exactly what I was looking for.

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Thinking about how Here To could be improved, I am struggling to think of anything really. I have seen similar initiatives before, but I could see that Here To was the right channel for Whitecross Street Party to find the type of local people we were looking for. It was great to see too, that when I Googled the event, our Here To opportunity page was highly visible as one of the top search results.

I am certain that I will use Here To again in the future for exciting, low commitment and bite-sized opportunities. If you are an Islington-based charity, community leader or a small organisation looking for local people to help out with your project, I would strongly recommend using Here To in addition to traditional methods.

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Natalie

Hi I’m Natalie!

I’ve just returned from travelling after completing a degree in Psychology and now I am exploring my career options and looking for a job. I’m still not sure exactly want I would like to do though, so I am keen to try some new things and get involved in some local projects

I found out about Here To Islington through Islington Giving and arranged to meet up with the Here To team to discuss how I could get involved. They had an event coming up called Give Local, so that was the initial focus.

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Give Local was really fun and I spent most of the time talking residents and organisations through the website and getting guests to reveal their secret skills using the Here To Photomatic Machine (above). I also got to take part in a pizza-making workshop which was yummy!

After Give Local, I spent a day working with Katherine the Here To Manager to map out user journeys that represented how different audiences used the Here To website. The aim of this was to better familiarise myself with the website but also to think about where improvements can be made. I also helped Katherine run an information stall at The Saturday Night Project where we used sweet wrappers to canvas young people’s level of interest in giving their time locally.

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I really enjoy keeping myself busy on a range of projects, so helping out with Here To has provided a welcomed distraction amid many job applications! I have learnt more about what I like doing and I have found out that I enjoy running events, trouble-shooting and problem-solving in particular.

I have also got a buzz out of meeting a variety of people through Here To and I feel more connected to my local area as a result. My communications and customer service skills have got a boost too, and I have gained insight into what it’s like to run a local tech-based project. I also got a 1 hour careers chat with the Katherine in exchange for my help and support, which was very useful!

Give local briefingLooking to the future, I am really interested in staying involved with Here To Islington. I love the fact that I can help out locally when it suits me, and also get some real perks out of it at the same time. I feel I know so much more about the website now and I am confident telling other organisations and residents about it. Having grown up in the borough, I am particularly keen to get more involved in Islington.

Very exciting times!

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

We’re Here To… meet Greta

An important part of the Here To process is to regularly check-in with the residents, organisations and community groups using the website.

This offers us a great chance to find out about people’s Here To success stories: why they decided to get involved, how they have benefited as a result and how they think we can improve the Here To experience.

We’re Here To report that Greta, a local changemaker, has now become a regular Here To ambassador in a number of different roles throughout Islington. Here’s Greta with her Here To story…

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Photo by Michelle Ramrachia

Hi there! My name is Greta and I am the CEO (Chief Empathy Officer) of  Ākāśa Innovation, an Islington-based start-up social enterprise that prepares, inspires and empowers the sustainability leaders of today and tomorrow to create a world for all life to flourish.

I  first met Here To at Impact HUB Islington as part of their #HereToTakeover event. It was there that I first saw the easy-to-use Here To website and the team taught me how to make a seed-bomb! Since that summer of 2013, I have met up with Here To to discuss embedding volunteering into our Leadership Programme. But while continuing to plan for that, I thought I would check out a couple of Here To opportunities for myself.

I originally signed up via Here To to help support the delivery of outdoor education lessons with The Garden Classroom, but the timing meant I was not able to start straight away. Instead though, I helped out with King Henry’s Walk Garden’s Christmas Fair at the site used by The Garden Classroom. At the event, I helped out for 2 hours and took on meet and greet, registration and activity-based tasks.

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I had a really lovely time at the Christmas Fair: the people were friendly, the event was well-organised and the time commitment fit really well with my schedule. I really enjoyed being around the hundreds of families and children who got involved with the activities, and I really felt being a part of the event gave me an overwhelmingly positive experience: everyone was happy despite the cold weather!

Personally and professionally, I am very interested in the environment, and so helping out at King Henry’s Walk Garden was a great opportunity for me to learn about one of Islington’s green spaces and what’s happening locally to get people interacting more with nature.

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Photo by Evgenia Kharitonova

What perks did I get from helping out? I am quite an extroverted person anyway, but I enjoyed using my communications skills in a different setting with new people and also with children. I certainly had to practice thinking fast on-the-job to engage with young people – usually a tough and highly upfront crowd – to get them excited about the activities on offer.

In terms of other benefits I gained from getting involved, I really got a boost from witnessing a real community getting together at the fair, and chatting over tea and sweet treats. I’m trying to build my own community through Ākāśa Innovation, the social enterprise I have started-up, and so I felt that the experience with the King Henry’s Walk Garden Christmas Fair was a source of inspiration that has also given my community development skills a boost.

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In terms of my first impression of Here To, I really liked the cool, interactive nature of the website and was attracted to the fact that it were an intermediary with local community know-how. I’ve got a bit of an eye for detail, and so I really appreciate the effort that has gone into making it easy to understand and navigate. islington.hereto.org also has the right balance of information compared to similar websites, in my opinion, and it is a colourful, friendly and youthful online space to go to for both volunteers and organisations. The Here To website was even a source of inspiration for my own website!

Since the King Henry’s Walk Garden Christmas Fair, I have also managed to help out in small ways with Cancer Research UK and Here To at their 1st Birthday Party event. I have now also helped out at four classes at The Garden Classroom, the original opportunities I applied for. All 4 experiences have been very positive, and I would defiantly love to be involved in future Here To opportunities. I would suggest anyone interested in helping out in small ways locally to check out Here To Islington!

Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org

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.

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