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 wordpress.com. 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 – hawbushtra.wordpress.com – 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. 

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!