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!

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

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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

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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.

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

Thanks for listening!

Here To… introduce 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… share what happened at the Photography How To

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

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

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

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Key takeaways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why we’re Here To run photography workshops

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

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

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Interested in joining us?

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

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

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

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

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

How to book

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

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

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

Here To… find a new team member

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

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

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

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

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

Deadline: Monday 2 December, 9am

Community Development Co-ordinator

How to apply – CDC 

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

Here To… meet Casey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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