BostinCamp 4

Bostincamp returned to Dudley last night. 14 people from all sorts of different organisations got together to drink tea, eat cake, be inspired and learn from each other. All of the tweets from the session are archived on Storify. Below are some of the the things people shared, which give a flavour of the session.

Photo of Joy Boyes, Nick Booth and Alison Sayer at BostinCamp

Joye Boyes, Nick Booth and Alison Sayer at BostinCamp

First up we heard from Alison Sayer, the Chief Executive of Halas Homes. Based in Halesowen, the charity provides services and accomodation for people with learning disabilities. Alison has learned by doing when it comes to social media, and developed some really engaging and effective tactics in her use of twitter and a blog.

Then we heard from Joy Boyes, who works for the Office of Public Health in Dudley Council and has experience of numerous public health campaigns and social marketing projects in the borough. The numbers of officers and projects in Public Health using social media is on the increase, thanks to Joy’s hard work over the years and also some Lunch and Learn sessions on twitter that she has run – what a brilliant idea!

We even inspired Jane Clarke to gather the courage to post a tweet!


Happy Birthday to @Dudley Vols and Volunteering Counts blog!

I love the exuberance in this post by Eileen Fielding on her Volunteering Counts blog, so thought it was worth sharing here. Hope you enjoy it.

Happy Birthday to @Dudley Vols and Volunteering Counts blog!.

Eileen was a brilliantly enthusiastic contributor at the last BostinCamp. We’ve got another BostinCamp coming up on Tuesday 25 February – click here for details and to register.

Using social media in Community Forums

Apologies for the lack of posts at the end of last year, I don’t know where the time went!

Our social media surgeries in November and December bought together people doing brilliant things in their communities and organisations, and helped them increase confidence and skills in using social media to help them. The next social media surgery coming up is on Thursday 20 February, from 6pm at Cafe Grande in Dudley – click here to register.

BostinCamp on 5 November was a great success, the 100 tweets shared during the evening are archived here. Something we heard about during the evening was Tim Sunter’s experience of using social media at a Brierley Hill Community Forum meeting organised by Dudley Council.

local saying "community forums, a new way to have your say"

logo from Dudley Council website

The 10 regular community forums held across Dudley borough are designed to “give people direct access to councillors and Dudley Council through regular drop in public meetings” (from Dudley MBC website). During consultation about the community forums when they were first proposed there were hopes from active citizens that social media would be integral to the process (see this report from a participatory workshop at which people voiced this aspiration). However as the forums were rolled out this time last year, use of social media wasn’t being actively encouraged or facilitated.

I was therefore really pleased to see that Tim Sunter (@Brierley _Hill) was live tweeting from a community forum meeting last July. I was also intrigued that in doing so Tim had prompted a discussion during the meeting about using social media. You can see the conversation in Tim’s Storify archive (go down to the sub-title use of twitter in future meetings). I just love that the simple act of sharing a contribution made by someone using twitter and not present at the meeting impressed and changed the views of people at the meeting who had thought that using twitter at the meetings would exclude those who didn’t use it.

photo of people at BostinCamp

BostinCamp in November 2013

Tim shared this story with us at BostinCamp, and also another really interesting continuation of the story. Knowing that a number of people who are interested in what is going on in Brierley Hill don’t use twitter, Tim emailed his curated Storify archive to everyone on the mailing list for the Brierley Hill Community Forum. 21 individuals replied to Tim’s email, including 2 local councillors, with responses being very positive, aside from the 5 people who couldn’t access Storify through council computers.

Tim generously prepared a wonderfully mind map of all the responses which you can see here. Below are a couple of responses he flagged up to share with us:

“I think it is really good way to open the meeting up to a bigger audience. would be really good if the council did it safe you doing it for them and people can give live feed back to issues.”

“I think that life has made attending meetings like this difficult, but this allows people to be in the room if they care and not just if they can make the meeting. Certainly a huge leap in transparency. Thanks for sharing.”

And here’s a great response from a local councillor demonstrating openness to sharing and to figuring out which social media tools to use (which can be rather confusing) :

This is really good – how do you link into it – do you have to be on twitter or could I go in through one of my Facebook pages?”

The next BostinCamp will take place on Tuesday 5 February from 5.30pm – more details and online registration here. Do come along and join us, it’s great to drink coffee, eat cake and talk about social media.

Hyperlocal in Hawbush

A hyperlocal blog is one which has a focus on a specific particular area – it could be a town, a neighborhood or even a single street. More broadly, hyperlocal sites are things on the web which talk about a place – they could be a Facebook page, a forum or a twitter account, as well as blogs and websites. They don’t usually call themselves hyperlocal, it’s a just term sometimes used to group these sorts of things together, and was useful to me in naming this post as it alliterates with Hawbush!


Hawbush is an estate in Brierley Hill which is home to a number of active community groups including a Tenants and Residents Association (TRA), Community Gardens and a Community Learning Centre (St Paul’s). Hawbush is also home to Peter Plant, a retired carpenter and joiner with a passion for his community and for social media.

Peter first attended one of our social media surgeries in January 2012, when Andy Mabbett helped Peter to learn how to set up a free blog site using Peter said then: “I didn’t know about it before, I’m now aware of it and will set one up for Hawbush TRA”. A man of his word, Peter set a site up that very day – – and a week later was using it to promote an upcoming TRA meetings, and since has used it to share news of TRA meetings, clean ups, local meetings run by the police, community events and useful information. Peter shares the posts on twitter (@HawbushTRA).

award shaped like a person holding a starIn December 2012, Peter’s social media skills were recognised by Dudley Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations, who presented him with a Social Media Award at their Awards Night 2012.

Peter’s next social media project was to develop a blog for St Paul’s Community Learning Centre, which as well as giving useful information about what’s on regularly, has a thoughtfully presented page about the venue, which is available to hire. Peter had the inspiration to include photos of the rooms, which is really useful for people looking to book a venue as they can get a sense of what the space is like.

screen grab of St Paul's Community Learning Centre blog

Peter came along to our most recent social media surgery to ask us about ways to create newsletters. He said “I was a bit nervous about coming along because I know that social media surgeries are not for creating newsletters, but now I know how to create one and share it using social media including my blog and twitter so I’m very happy.”  

At the surgery Melissa Guest gave Peter some pointers on creating a newsletter in the powerpoint software he had on his laptop and, importantly, how to add hyperlinks and create a pdf so it can be added to the Hawbush TRA and St Paul’s blogsites. Peter said “I can now create my newsletter, add links to my twitter account and blog, PDF it, add it to my blog and share it. This has been really helpful. I was really confused about how to get started with this so it’s been a big help. I can now create online newsletters for the church, my TRA and the patient’s panel that I volunteer with.”

We can’t wait to see your newsletters, Peter. I’ve added the Hawbush blogs to the #DigitalDudley local blogs page.

If you know of anyone like Peter who is blogging, tweeting, sharing photos or videos about our communities in Dudley borough please tell me about them below. 

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!