Why I love the informality of social media surgeries

One of the most brilliant things about Social Media Surgeries are the connections people make with each other. At this week’s Social Media Surgery in Stourbridge Catherine Growcott from International Cuisine Association popped in to bring along her colleague Sangeeta Rangwami. International Cuisine Association are an inspiring and dedicated group of people bringing their skills and experience from industry to a social enterprise which aims to change people’s lives through learning about food from around the world and developing confidence in cooking.

Sangeeta and I were working through the pros and cons of Facebook Pages, and the fact that under Facebook rules organisations and groups shouldn’t set up a Facebook Profile – they are only for individuals.

We were then joined by Aneela Hanif, who was fully sighted until her early 20s, and is in the process of setting up a new group called Vision Division to support people going through experiences similar to hers, or looking for something a bit different to more traditional groups supporting partially sighted people which tend to involve people who are much older and not necessarily facing challenges of working or getting work.

The three of us took a whistle-stop tour of twitter. On the spur of the moment I chose the National Trust’s twitter stream to explain to Sangeeta and Aneela how to write engaging and friendly tweets, use hyperlinks and what hashtags are used for. It was a rather wonderful place to start, I’d fully recommend delving in to the National Trust’s tweets – for their warmth of tone, amazing pictures and gentle awareness raising of relevant issues.

As is often the case at a Social Media Surgery, we spent as much time learning about each other’s work as we did about social media. Sangeeta and Aneela started to connect ideas about what they do, and Sangeeta invited us over the road to International Cuisine Association’s teaching space on the High Street in Stourbridge, which has a healthy take away and noodle bar on the ground floor, called Taste. Catherine showed us around and ideas were bubbling up about cooking sessions for people who are partially sighted. Sangeeta expressed a desire to learn about what support partially sighted people might need in relation to learning to cook. Catherine generously offered Aneela’s group free use of the space.

I can’t wait until both of these Stourbridge based organisations are using social media, as I am keen to see what collaboration and learning develops online and offline.



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