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 The King’s Head Theatre now sources the majority of its helpers through Here To Islington! Here’s Louisa with her Here To story…
Hi. I’m Louisa. I work at The King’s Head Theatre, an Islington-based arts venue on Upper Street, as Theatre Manager. The King’s Head Theatre is a totally self-funded organisation, so we rely heavily on volunteers to support our 7-strong creative and management team.
The venue is also world-renowned and has enjoyed over 40 transfers of its performances to the West End and Broadway! So the pressure is on to maintain a high visitor experience, and having highly motivated volunteers is a great way to get there!
I first heard about Here To via Dominic Haddock, the Executive Director, who is heavily involved in the Islington arts and community scene. I found the Here To website straight forward and easy-to-use, and the bite-sized component of the opportunities fitted in perfectly with what we were looking for: ushers.
The Here To team informs me that The Kings Head Theatre’s ushering opportunity is one of their most popular projects with Islington residents, which is really useful to know! Of the 17 enquiries we’ve had so far, The King’s Head Theatre has benefited from 4 regular ushers who are on our books, and around 10 who have helped out for a couple of shows. I always meet face-to-face with new volunteers as part of my working day, to go through what ushering involves and to offer them the chance to complete a shadow shift so they feel confident with what they’re being asked to do.
We put on shows 7 days a week (with 110 guests for each show), so we are grateful for as many helping hands as possible! Creating the best possible theatre experience for guests is important to us as we would like to see audiences return to us time and time again. Considering the number of people we’ve had through Here To, Here To helpers have made a real difference to the smooth running of show set-up, the box office and interval refreshments.
I am also regularly using other digital tools alongside Here To (such as Doodle) to help coordinate volunteer rotas better after getting feedback from helpers that the process needed to be more efficient. I think that focusing on good organisation enables me to manage many volunteers simultaneously for the benefit of the theatre, while also giving those helping out to chance to get the most out of what they’re doing. For example, one Here To enquirer called Hannah is also a keen pianist. We are extremely happy to offer her the chance to practice on our baby grand piano in between shifts!
Using the Here To website has helped me to think about the wider potential of bite-sized volunteering at the King’s Head Theatre, and I’m keen to design a process that works to enable more of this sort of helping out on an on-going basis.
Thinking about the future, I’m very happy with the help I have had from Here To to date as the website has allowed us to attract a healthy pool of volunteers that make a huge difference to our local arts venue. I want to continue to use Here To to find new people to help out, especially in advance of the upcoming summer season (although some of the more established Here To volunteers continue to come back to show new people the ropes on their first shift)!
Inspired? To sign up to help out locally or to make a call out for volunteers, visit our main website islington.hereto.org.