Making our neighbourhoods healthy event shared online

Last Thursday Dudley’s Health and Wellbeing Board hosted an event which focused on a priority in their strategy around making our neighbourhoods healthy. As a member of the Development Group which supports the board, I was involved in the planning and preparation of the event. For a number of reasons, primarily (in my view) a lack of exposure to and experience of using social media among council officers, the various Health and Wellbeing Board events held over the last eight months haven’t involved much, if any, sharing through social media platforms.

I was therefore grateful when the lead facilitator for Thursday’s event, Catherine Wilton from Think Local Act Personal, asked before the event about hashtags. Catherine isn’t an intensive user of social media, so it’s great that she thinks about it in event planning. We agreed to use the hashtag which Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) have been using for their work with Health and Wellbeing Board (HWBs) – #TLAPHWB. I quickly created handouts for participants with the hashtag on and information about where content would be shared online following the event e.g. Stority and Flickr. I was also grateful to the team at Healthwatch Dudley, for the loan of their 4G mobile broadband device which enabled us to use wifi in Wrens Nest Community Centre during the event, as the Centre doesn’t have wifi yet.

Once you’ve sorted that as an event planner, much of the rest is down to the online community. Thanks to some great tweeting and sharing of photos on twitter during the event, I was able to quickly pull together a Storify archive from the event. I uploaded photos from my camera and my phone to Flickr here. Together, these tasks only took an hour, which I was easily able to in the evening on the day of the event. There are times which more curation and explanation in Storify is useful, and when more consideration should be given to use of photos on Flickr and thus time put in to editing. However my objective was simply to convey some of the key messages from the event, show the fun people had and try to get across the connections that people made.

Here are just a few of the tweets shared from the event by people in organisations in Dudley.

Matt Bowsher is an Assistant Director in Dudley Council and active user of twitter:

Stuart Johnson is our Police Chief Superintendent and uses twitter in a really friendly way:

Mark Ellerby from Summit House often shares interesting things he hears at events on twitter:

And Donna Roberts from Dudley Council was the twitter superstar of the day, ensuring that there were photos online and that the story of the event was shared in real time:

If you have tips for sharing online during events please reply below. If you would like any advice around using social media in events in Dudley please just ask.



How to make curry with social media

A recipe for Social Care Curry Club


Over 150 people in 4 countries (quantities can be increased)

Suitable for

Vegetarians, not-vegetarians, people working in social care, people not working in social care with an interest in social care.


  • A splash of an Assistant Director from Dudley Council with a good ideaPhoto of Matt Bowsher in indian restaurant tweeting on his phone
  • A healthy dollop of a social media savvy, unstoppable woman
  • A large glob of online connections with an interest in social care, and curry
  • Boundaryless opportunities to co-create
  • A handful good indian restaurants
  • A pinch of a Minister of State (optional)

You will also need the following free stuff

  • 1 blog site
  • 1 twitter account
  • 1 Eventbrite site


This began as a recipe for a handful of outings of people interested in social care, and curry. It turned in to a recipe for connecting over 150 people across 4 countries (including Canada). You can turn any recipe for something small and simple in to something much bigger by simply lengthening the preparation time and making it easy for people to co-create it with you.


  1. Take the Assistant Director‘s good idea, and add it to the social media savvy, unstoppable woman. Saute until the twitter account and first post on the free blog site are done.
  2. Ask people following on twitter and the blog what day suits them best and let things bubble up on the Eventbrite site to determine how many people you’ll need to book in to the test kitchen chosen restaurant on a suitable date.
  3. Gently mix people on the evening, enjoy curry and have good conversation about social care type things. Grate over some tweets, photos and a blog. (If you’re a fan of baking with booze, you can add a pint or two in a pub afterwards.)
  4. Swirl in opportunities for people to become local hosts, add suggestions about locations across the country (England), season with a social care curry in Scotland and one in Wales.
  5. Warm(ly respond) to any interest from politicians, such as the Minister of State for Care and Support.
  6. Keep everything sizzling using social media.
  7. Taste the mix on 5 September, and quarterly thereafter.

N.B. You know how Canadians (and Americans) call courgettes, zucchini? Well they don’t use the term ‘social care’, so they have adapted this recipe to ‘Connecting over Curry’.

Preparation time

Just a few weeks.

Eating time

Dependent on restaurant, and enthusiasm for an after dinner visit to a pub. [Warning: when testing this recipe I was out until 1am!]

Don’t miss out!

Register here to join us on 5 September in Birmingham, 5 confirmed attendees from Dudley organisations (other parts of the country are available)

Photo: Matt Bowsher, Assistant Director, Dudley MBC.
Photo credit: George Julian
This post was inspired by a Social Care Curry Club tweet (below) from George Julian

Bostin Beginnings

twitter bird logo with speech bubble saying '#tweet on the street @dudleyccg"

from Dudley CCG’s Facebook page

BostinCamp got off to a fantastic start on Wednesday. 29 people from all sorts of organisations with all sorts of roles and interests spent a couple of hours after work discussing and learning about social media use by a charity, by the NHS and by local government.

You can see the line-up from the launch event here, all the tweets and photos from the evening are all archived on Storify here.

In a nutshell, we talked about:

  • Cake (of course!)
  • The link between design (e.g. of promotional posters) and social media as a means of sharing them
  • The importance of saying thank you to people who support what you do
  • Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group‘s blend of listening to local people’s views on healthcare (Feet on the Street) and sharing them through video voxpops and twitter (#tweetonthestreet)
  • Whether GPs should tweet about health issues
  • Why we should trust frontline staff to use social media, and the fact that people trust frontline staff more than CEOs and government officials nowadays (Dan Slee shared a link to this fascinating article which draws on the Edelman Trust Barometer on the brilliant comms2point0 site.
  • Dudley Council being one of 3 local authorities in England involved in a research bid which will

     map and analyse the use of social media by the involved local authorities in order to learn about how this impacts or could impact on the engagement of citizens, including young people.

  • Curry (all good camps lead to a good curry)


There were quite a few useful links shared, and #bostincamp reached far beyond Dudley thanks to those tweeting from the event. All the links and discussions are in the Storify archive.

Thanks to the Secret Coffee Club for hosting BostinCamp, and Marc and Callum for serving us delicious drinks. And thanks to everyone who came along or joined in on twitter – you made the evening truly bostin!

Dudley Council social media use celebrated in White Paper

Image of Best by West Midlands 2013 publication front cover

An event held at The Public in West Bromwich on Friday bought together people who work in and around local councils in the West Midlands to highlight social media activity which has the potential to’ transform the way that citizens see and interact with council services and officers’. Jan Britton, Chief Executive of Sandwell Council says in the introduction to Best by West Midlands 2013: A White Paper on Social Media in Local Government:

‘Councils across the West Midlands are increasingly using social media channels to communicate and engage with customers, citizens and communities. We believe that councils are doing some amazing things not only to improve the skills of their staff and expand their knowledge but more importantly, to enhance relationships with and among their communities.’

Two examples of Dudley Council activity are highlighted in the White Paper and on the Best by West Midlands website. The first is Dudley Council’s Flickr site on which over 1600 photos have been shared to date. Jason Whyley from Dudley Council explains in the case study that:

‘Probably our biggest success with flickr, to date, has been around the building of community pride and has included working other privately run interest groups within the borough.  We have used flickr to profile good news stories that come directly from the community, for example, a sketch book collection found by a member of the public in a charity shop that contained some great borough paintings from Edward Fox. Setting up local history interest groups, such as the borough’s links to the Titanic anchor, adding images from the borough’s archive relating to our proud heritage, and featuring interviews with former business owners.’

Dudley Council’s use of social media to support the Making it Real social care work is also featured as a case study.

Why a White Paper? As was explained on Friday, ‘a white paper is an authoritative report or guide helping readers to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision’ (source: wikipedia). The people behind this one (Dan Slee and Darren Caveney of Comms2point0 and Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands) wanted to bring the great work going on in the West Midlands above the radar, and lay down a marker of progress by 2013.

Useful links

(image: Best by West Midlands 2013 publication cover taken by Lorna Prescott)

BostinCamp: the launch!

photo of hot chocolate with #bostincamp written in chocolate sauce on the froth

photo credit: Joy Clarke (@joysuzannexo)

It’s here!

Hot on the heels of a successful Brewcamp excursion to Dudley we bring you BostinCamp – the launch event!

BostinCamp  mixes cake, tea, coffee, and ideas about social media, public services and voluntary organisations. It’s a chance to learn things, meet people, listen and contribute and make our corner of the world just a little bit of a better place. Anyone can come. It’s free to book, you can do that here.

Our first ever event starts at 5.30pm on Wed 7 August 2013 and runs until 7.00pm

You can grab a coffee from around 5pm and there’s free wifi. There is free parking at the venue. The things we’ll be hearing and talking about:

We’ve got three fantastic women lined up to share some quite different experiences (I did ask a bloke to contribute, but he’s having a lovely long holiday so you’ll have to wait for the next event for that fantastic story).

  • Joy Clarke will share with us what she has been doing to develop online communications for a local charity (@i4cs)
  • Laura Broster will discuss with us ways that she is developing social media use in the NHS for @DudleyCCG
  • Jo Orchard-Webb will share exciting news of a research proposal which Dudley MBC and Dudley CVS are involved in around social media, local government and citizen participation.

Fancy joining us? You can register here – it’s free to come along, drinks and cakes are yummy and reasonably priced. If the conversation is too good to stop we can go on for curry. Don’t forget to tell your friends and colleagues. We’re using #bostincamp on twitter.

What’s this all about then?

Have you noticed it?

People from community groups and voluntary organisations across Dudley borough using twitter, Facebook and blogs more. Connecting with others that have similar interests, sharing news in neighbourhoods…

Officers who work in Dudley Council tweeting in their own time about work stuff!
Dudley Libraries doing the great things that they do on twitter, including starting a twitter reading group (#readindudley)…

Dudley Local Policing Unit and Neighbourhood Teams being as brilliant as the whole of West Midlands Police is at communicating using social media. It’s part of their job. Even our Chief Superintendent Stuart Johnson will tell you how useful he finds twitter! …

Health and Social Care officers using social media in new ways. I’m thinking here of all the great things Dudley CCG are doing, and Healthwatch Dudley and Making it Real

People in Stourbridge launching a tweetup

Citizens using social media to report in real time from meetings in which people are having discussions and making decisions which affect communities (for example Tim from Brierley Hill Blog)…

women looking at digital tablet

Stourbridge social media surgery

As I’ve said in the about page of this site – something has shifted in the last year or so. Where I previously looked to (and frequently physically went to) Birmingham for great social media based networking related to my work I am now overwhelmed and incredibly excited about all the good stuff  originating from people who live, work and/or volunteer in Dudley borough. This site is a place to bring together and celebrate all these good things.

My aim is to post at least weekly to highlight what’s coming up, share stories from things that have happened and share thinking, reflections and practical stuff in relation to our uses of social media to make things even better in Dudley borough. Please do add your ideas of what should be shared here.

My first question to you is: do you know anyone who lives, works and/or volunteers in Dudley borough who is a social media star for you? Let me know:

  • who they are
  • where we can find them online
  • and why they are a social media star for you

From this a social media stars page on this site will be born!