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. 

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.”