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!

Community Action and Social Media

Photo from research seminar, Angus McCabe at the front of a seminar room, participants looking towards him or using laptops etc.

Research Seminar at the Third Sector Research Centre

On Wednesday Alison Sayer from (Halas Homes) and I spent the afternoon in a research seminar at the University of Birmingham. The Barrow Cadbury Trust have funded the Third Sector Research Centre to undertake exploration and research around Community Action and Social Media. The project started a few months ago, when Kevin Harris from Local Level (he blogs here) reviewed literature on the topic and carried out telephone interviews with people who do work with community groups and social media.

Questions being asked through the research are:

  • How/do social media generate, extend, develop or sustain community action in communities of place/interest? (This is the overall research question.)
  • What social media are being used at a community level and how?
  • Why and to do what?
  • What is the impact and outcomes of social media use?

If you have any examples which can help to answer these questions please do get in touch with Kevin Harris (kevin@local-level.org.uk). I’ll be sharing some experiences here which might go some small way to responding to the research questions, and also examples from other places. (They will all go in a category called community action and social media so that you can find them easily.)

Though the research team themselves weren’t using social media during the seminar, that clearly that didn’t stop those of us who enjoy social reporting, involving people outside the room, and picking up on discussion points through a backchannel. We used the hashtag #CASM, and Pauline Roche kindly curated an archive of the twitter discussion on Storify. Slides from the seminar were circulated after the session via email with participants, I’ve shared a copy here.

At this point I confess to a feeling of immense frustration. There are amazing people across the country who have incredible experience-based knowledge in relation to communities and community development, and the analysis of power which comes with that. They even write brilliant books about things like networking approaches to community development. However they haven’t really jumped in when it comes to social media. This leads to barriers in them understanding stories and examples from people like Steph Clarke who use social media in highly skilled and adept ways to facilitate positive connections and action and build cohesion in their own communities. I am convinced that understanding can only be real when you have built up some experience  of using social media. Otherwise it’s like trying to understand what it’s like to swim without ever getting in the water.

Anyway, here’s my first example from Dudley of community action being driven through social media. Karl Denning is a guide dog owner from Dudley who campaigns for equality and raises awareness about behaviours which make day to day life difficult and even dangerous for partially sighted people. Karl came along to a Dudley Social Media Surgery in 2013, when he learned some tips and tricks to use Twitter more effectively (he’s on twitter as @KarlDenning). He returned to the next surgery for help to set up a new blog on WordPress, and then again later in 2014 to find out how to use Instagram. Below is a video made and shared on YouTube by Dudley Police and Karl, raising awareness of inconsiderate parking. It’s had over 3,500 views. I have no idea what the impact and outcomes of this are, but it has made me more thoughtful about where and how I park. The video relates to a wider effort by Karl to raise awareness which taps in to the hashtag #inconsiderateparking. Do take a look at the video, if only to watch how tentatively the police officer passes the car, which helps you empathise with how scary this is.

Photo credit: Photo from research seminar taken by Gooweon Jeong, shared via @thirdsectorrc twitter account

social media surgery successes

This month’s social media surgery took place at Cafe Grande in Dudley (as ever we’re grateful to the owner Martin, for welcoming us in the cafe).

Dudley Voices for Choice twitter profile page

Sarah Offley came along from Dudley Voices for Choice, which is a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities. She wanted to find out how to use twitter, and was supported to set up her own twitter account (@DVCSarahO) and send her first tweet. She said: “I feel so relieved – it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be! I will use the account for promotion, keeping in touch and up to date on important issues.” As a result of the social media surgery Sarah has bought back the @DvcDudley twitter account from a year of inactivity. Keep an eye on them for interesting news and collaborations.

Alison Sayer from Halas Homes wanted to learn about twitter, and how to include a twitter feed on  her organisation’s website, or a blog. We talked about ways that Halas Homes could develop a fresher online presence, and Alison left equipped to talk to her board. She said “We had a really helpful and informative conversation about WordPress blogs and Twitter. I now know that blogs can be updated through Twitter and I can see that this will help me make best use of my limited time.” Within two working days Alison had a new twitter account for Halas Homes (@HalasHomes) created and active, with great sharing going on already.

image of a tweet from Halas Homes  about a coffee morning

There’s more about the social media surgery in my Storify archive, so I’ll finish with Alison’s feedback: “I didn’t know what social media surgeries would be like but it’s been really informal and an enjoyable experience.”