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

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