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

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

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

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

What is micro-volunteering?

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

Micro-volunteering is…

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

 

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

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

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

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

Feedback from participants

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

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

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

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

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We’re Here To… meet Tanya!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanya

We’re… #HereToParty – the round-up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…ice-cream making with Udderlicious

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…live artwork from Ji

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more pictures, click here.

Here To… reflect: diary of a HeadStart intern

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

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

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

Elisa Ly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samira Conteh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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… 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!

Here To… meet Ruth

Hello there.

I’m Ruth and Here To Islington have asked me to share a bit about my experience with the project so far.

I first stumbled across Here To Islington at the Angel Canal Festival back in 2012 and, with the help of the Here To Photomatic Machine, shared with the team my secret skill: finding out things. I was pleasantly surprised to see a project of this nature and was keen to get more involved in running it as a Here To Wizard.

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Since then, I have helped out on two of Here To Islington’s events: one at the Town Hall and the other being the launch of the website at Platform earlier this year. On both occasions, this involved getting hands on, meeting and greeting people, telling them about Here To Islington and getting them to put themselves through the Here To Photomatic Machine. I even pioneered the very first Here To wizard hat!

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I have really enjoyed expanding my knowledge base lending a hand with Here To and using/testing the skills I have acquired throughout my career.

Helping out at Here To events has enabled me to master the art of persuading people to get involved with a new project (even if it requires them to pose for a picture!) and has also improved my ability to work as part of a team as I tend to naturally lead from the front.

Taking part in Here To events has also given me a good excuse to be out of the house, which has helped keep my spirits up and must have saved me a good deal on my electricity bill!

Ruth at the launch event

I continue to be excited by the huge amount of potential I can see in Here To Islington. I believe that Here To needs to make it as easy as possible for people to ‘trip over it’ as I did back in 2012, and I am looking forward to helping that happen by giving regular feedback. I also think it would be great to think of ways the Here To Wizards can work more collaboratively to spread the word about Here To.

If you would like to know more about Here To and what it’s like to be involved, I will be at The Cally Festival on Sunday 8 September with the team.

Do drop by and say hello!

Here To… meet Age UK Islington

Jane and Ellie here from Age UK Islington. We just wanted to share a bit about our experience with Here To so far from the point of view of an organisation.

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We first found out about Here To before it even existed. We heard that Isledon and FutureGov (the creators) were joining forces to co-design a brand new approach to volunteering, and we wanted to be involved. We’re unafraid of thinking differently and are keen to reinvigorate the image of volunteering and helping older people too.

As a result, we put a lot of energy into the development phase of Here To and gave some insights that have helped shaped the project today. It was really enjoyable to have this level of input and to know that our views were being considered in the design.

Now, we have 4 different members of our staff using Here To across Age UK Islington and we are developing a portfolio of opportunities. We have already had 7 helpers placed within our organisation as a result, and we are confident that this number will grow as the website does.

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As an organisation, we are very happy with the look and feel of the Here To website and believe the use of icons and other design techniques have created a contemporary appearance that will help us reach new (younger) volunteer audiences.

The underlying principles of Here To – skills, perks and bite-sized opportunities – have helped us also to think more about what we actually want from our volunteers, and how we might benefit from changing the emphasis when making calls to action.

We would like to see some changes to the dates concept for opportunities and also the photo uploading mechanism, but overall the online wizard to help organisations create new projects is clear and beautiful to use.

In terms of boosting Here To, we would suggest organising more activity offline to get out and grab people. We took part in the Here To Give Local event in June running a postcard-making workshop, and it was a really great experience that brought the website to life. Not only did it bring our clients together, but the event also created a space for new connections to form with other local organisations. One of our clients was even inspired to become a volunteer with us at Age UK Islington at Give Local and is currently undergoing training to prepare herself for such a role. So there is huge potential here for engagement!

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We also think that Here To could get more local projects signed-up by sharing national insights and intelligence on voluntary matters. We would certainly find short, tweet-like summaries very helpful, as some of these updates and newsletters take a long time to read!

Moving forward, we are keen to continue to work together with Here To Islington and would particularly love to take part in future events. We still have lots of new opportunities to explore, but are glad to see this bold approach taking root in Islington.

Here To… meet Shannon

Hi there. I’m Shannon and Here To Islington have asked me to share how I got involved with the project by writing a success story.

Like Stephanie, I work for ELBA and I came across Here To Islington and Give Local through a recommendation from Islington Giving.

Here To... Give LocalI wanted to join in with Give Local to get a clearer picture of what community groups were doing in Islington to help inform my work. And despite being a seasoned volunteer, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the day on a more personal level. It was a lot more fun that I expected!

The highlight for me was the fact that I was both able to help run the event, but also take part in the activities on offer. I got a real happiness boost from that combination. Leafleting to the public to get people into the event was a really interesting experience and the drama workshops by North London Cares and City Academy were fantastic. I used to do a lot of drama when I was growing up, and those workshops have inspired me to get back into one of the hobbies of my youth!

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Here To... Give Local

The drama session also meant I could connect with others and meet some older people: a chance I don’t really get very often. I also loved the treasure hunt run by Islington Community Theatre on the day too. I just wish I had more time for the smoothie bike and the cushion-making workshop!

Here To meet new people

Taking part in Give Local has helped me to realise just how interconnected local projects are in Islington, and it has given me new contacts and knowledge that will help with my work on the BIG Alliance. I give around 20 hours of my time each month to good causes, so Here To have given me yet another positive experience of giving locally.

As a result, I would definitely consider looking at the Here To Islington website in the future if I find the time for a new opportunity, and I would be interested in helping out at similar events.

Perhaps I will see you there?

 

Here To… meet Stephanie

Hi! Stephanie here.

I helped out at Give Local recently, which was a real community occasion. Here To Islington have since invited me to share how it went through a success story.

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Working for ELBA at the time, I came across Here To through Islington Giving, one of the organisations I was working closely with as part of my job.

On hearing about the Give Local event, I was particularly motivated to get involved because it sounded like a great opportunity to meet Islington residents, to have a chat with them and to understand if and how they wanted to get involved helping out on local projects.

I was able to do this and more at Give Local and the event really exceeded my expectations. It was excellent how the day was broken up, and I valued the mixture of helping out and having fun at the event. This enabled me to use my skills effectively, but also to explore some new areas of interest.

After a very informative morning briefing, I was part of a team flyering near Angel tube station. This was great fun but also a bit daunting (in a good way!). This brief leafleting experience really boosted my communications skills and built my resilience in a way that was different to my day job.

Type Tastings

The smoothie bike and treasure hunt activities were my favourites, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed some of the more creative activities. I don’t really consider myself to be a ‘creative person’, but taking part in the Type Tastings workshop may have changed my mind! The activities at Give Local made me realise that I am much more creative than I thought I was, which was a real light-bulb moment for me.

In terms of what I gained from taking part in Give Local, I certainly left the event feeling much more connected to what was going on in Islington on the ground, and I was able to make lots of useful contacts.

I would welcome other opportunities to get involved in similar ways in the future and Here To should do more to capture the enthusiasm of helpers like myself after these sorts of events.

I regularly give my time to local projects as a mentor and community event organiser, so I am open to ideas! I think the Here To approach is really innovative and user-friendly and I am curious to see how it progresses.