A Successful Year For Here To Islington Initiaitve

In the summer of 2012, a group of local people got together and decided it was time to create something special and unique, connecting local people to local projects in fun and flexible ways. Last month, they threw a party to celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of their website. The Kudos team went to the party, had a piece of cake and found out what can be done by a group of great people during one year.

 

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Volunteers ask people for their feedback during the event. Photo: Evgenia Kharitonova

 

“Here is your pamphlet. If you do at least three activities you get free ice cream,” say a joyful group of volunteers at the entrance of Islington Town Hall.

Tonight’s a special night for everyone who’s been involved in the Here To project. They celebrate the first year of existence and they can’t be prouder of what they have achieved so far. Dozens of small projects were created and many existing ones became bigger thanks to them.

Every detail was prepared by young volunteers; pupils from Highbury Fields School made the cake, a local dance group performed, local volunteers did the decoration and Here To wizards prepared the food and the different stands.

“Here To is all about encouraging people to use their free time doing something good for the community, by volunteering and working on new ideas and projects. It is about finding new ways of connecting people who want to give their time helping projects,” says Jonathan Gibbs, from Isledon Partnership (one of the companies behind Here To, along with FutureGov)

The room is packed. You look around and you see different stands with people trying to play games, give donations or wanting to get involved somehow.

The most popular stand is Udderlicious, a local ice-cream business. It’s also the loudest one, daring you to make an ice-cream in less than ten minutes. You just have to shake a bag of ice with other secret powders and it will eventually turn into ice-cream. You can hear people shaking bags constantly but it’s good fun.

Another popular stand is the one from Islington Giving, a local charity focused on helping the Islington community. At their stand you could stick a post-it note onto a map of Islington, saying what you love the most about the borough. Then you can sign a paper saying you want to get involved in the charity by either giving money, being a volunteer or just attending events now and then. The post-it notes vary from Camden Passage antiques to Upper Street bars or King’s Cross station.

 

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Map where people wrote their favourite things in Islington. Photo: Jessica Fino

 

The Mayor of Islington, Councillor Barry Edwards, is one of the guests tonight. He visits every stand, not to get a free ice-cream but because he’s amazed by the quantity of local charities at the event.

“I suspect Islington has more volunteers than any other part of the country. We are particularly blessed but we can never have too many,” he says in his speech just before the cake.

Katherine Horsham, the lady responsible for making this project possible, is walking around with a green hat. It’s difficult to catch her, as everyone is looking for her to congratulate her for the huge success this first year has been.

“I’m glad people are enjoying the activities and atmosphere at our birthday party. Tonight is about celebrating everyone’s contribution’s to Here To’s success so far and showcasing the power of bite-sized volunteering.”

This event also marks the last event that 17-year-old Yasmin Martins attends as the Young Mayor of Islington.

In a touching speech she says: “Young people volunteering build bridges that we need. There are a lot of stereotypes about young people and I am happy for being in the Young Council to fight these stereotypes. I am happy that I am here for my last event.”

The anniversary party is a success. Over 200 people came along to the grand Islington Town Hall and enjoyed 16 different activities.

“Volunteering is about community,” says Barbara, a volunteer from Age UK.

“It’s about you getting to know your community and your community getting to know you. Two things you gain out of it is amazing knowledge about what is around you and you realise what you are in that community.”

If you are looking to get Perks by helping out locally or you have a community project idea that needs people to power it, Here To is the right place to go to make it happen. Visit their website at http://islington.hereto.org/

Jessica Fino

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