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… 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!