What we got up to at Stourbridge Social Media Surgery today

A few photos and short stories from today’s Social Media Surgery in Stourbridge. Photo of Debbie, Melissa and Nicki talking about Facebook Debbie and Nicki from Home-Start Dudley were supported to gain confidence and knowledge about how Facebook and Twitter work. With support from Melissa from Healthwatch Dudley they talked through how to set up a private Facebook Group for Home-Start volunteers to connect with each other, share useful information and ideas and support each other. Nicki talked to Nick Booth about the experience of social media surgery being different to traditional training. She said:

It’s good to get individualised support that is tailored to our level of understanding and the needs of our organisation. This will give us more confidence to use social media, as trustees of an organisation it feels like a massive door opening to us and the possibilities are endless and will help our organisation to move forward in a positive way!

Photo of Deepak, Lorraine and Carl, huddled around a laptop in deep concentration, with Jon behind them leaning in Jon from Dudley District Citizens Advice Bureau bought Lorraine and Carl with him so they could learn together how to use Twitter in their different roles. Deepak from Dudley Libraries Service showed them the ropes, and helped them understand how to reach more people, have conversations using people’s Twitter handles, and how to use hashtags. Photo of Alison sitting by Karl around a table, Steph in the foreground talking to them Steph from Podnosh and first-time surgeon Karl helped Alison from Stourbridge Street Pastors to understand the relevance of Facebook and Twitter to her work, and how to link them and engage with more people. Photo of Becky and Nick working on a website on Nick's laptop Becky from Dudley CVS worked with Nick Booth from Podnosh to find out ways she can help local community groups and voluntary organisations to use and develop data skills and use Open Data. They are meeting next week to blog about this, so we’ll share their learning here too. In the meantime you can see what other local groups have been learning from Podnosh about Open Data on this blog.

(I’ve created this entire blog post on a WordPress App on my iPhone while on a bus. It was easier than I thought, though I need to figure out how to add alternative text for the images I upload, a basic accessibility consideration.)

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Social Media Surgeries for data and open data skills

OpendataCould your community group or charity be more effective if you collected information in different ways, used it better, shared it with the right people?  Would it help if you could more easily find information that government has about the places  or perhaps the people you are trying to help?
Nick Booth (from Podnosh, who helped us to start our social media surgeries) is experimenting with ways we can use social media surgeries to share not just social media skills with local community groups and charities, but also data skills. Nick will be coming along to our social media surgery in Stourbridge on Monday 23 February to chat to people from local groups and charities about this. Register here if you’d like to to come along. We’d also welcome colleagues from Dudley Council who work with data and are interested in seeing how it can be useful to local groups, and what role they play in helping that.
Here’s a bit more information from Nick:
What should I expect?

As always we start with you and your group.  What are you trying to achieve? What skills and tools do you have at the moment?  Can we show you new ideas that could help you achieve more? Can we help you in practical ways use those skills and tools – there and then? Always the same relaxed approach of a social media surgery.

What’s your aim?

Our ultimate aim is to encourage more community groups and local charities to find good uses for Open data.  This is numerical information that government shares in public.  so we can have a better understanding of the places we live in and the way government works.  But we won’t throw you into anything difficult, we’ll start where you are and help you with the numbers and skills that matter to you.

Is there any information online?

As we work with people we’ll learn together how to solve problems. We’ll describe what we’re doing and share it here on the blog.  We will also be writing about things that might help you, tools, sites where data is stored, examples from other organisations.

I have no idea what you mean when you say open data!

Sorry – it is jargony.  Open government data is when government shares information on the internet that it owns  and grants you and I permission to use it (using an open government license) A simple example is local government releasing a monthly list of all spending over £500.  You can find the Dudley one here.  There is also a website called All About Dudley which contains all sorts of data. But don’t be phased by any of this – we want to help you develop the understanding and skills that might be useful for what you are trying to achieve.

Image credit: Auregann – shared on wikimedia commons