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…
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.
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.
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.
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.