The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010 to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities. The aim is also to galvanise others to follow. David Cameron said this about the surgeries:
“This is an excellent initiative – such a simple idea and yet so effective. The popularity of these surgeries and the fact that they have inspired so many others across the country to follow in their footsteps, is testament to its brilliance.
“Congratulations to Nick and all the volunteers who have shared their time and expertise to help so many local groups make the most of the internet to support their community. A great example of the Big Society in action.”
Thank you for such kind words – to which we responded formally with:
“It’s wonderful to have recognition for everyone who has organised a social media surgery or turned up to volunteer their help. I think the surgeries work because they are simple. They are very easy to organise, fun to do and not in the least bit intimidating for people who want some help. They give active citizens and community groups the confidence and skills to use social media to campaign, organise and hold power to account. They’ve grown because of the passion and energy of bloggers and voluntary groups up and down the country.”
The idea of a social media surgery originated with Pete Ashton – who used them with people who were looking for free help from his consultancy supporting arts organisations. We then applied the relaxed approach in a new way, scaling it up and putting together two sets of people – lovely helpers from the Birmingham Bloggers group (started in 2007) with the fab active citizens I’d had met through the Grassroots Channel podcast. The first was in October 2008. It was only supposed to be a one off, but it turned out people enjoyed themselves so much we kept them going – and they started to spring up in other places.
Since then this simple approach has grown into something of a movement, with surgeries so far happening in 60 places in the UK and at least four other countries. They have also become part of our business, using them to help organisations internally and encouraging and supporting our clients to run them for their own communities. We’ve also built the social media surgery website to make it easier for people to organise them and find them. In 2010, the Central Birmingham social media surgery won an award from Creative Birmingham’s Invisible City’s Media Circus.
This Big Society Award is great recognition for anyone who has organised a social media surgery or turned up to volunteer their help. I’m going to be mention a few specific people (which is dangerous):
- John Popham for taking the idea and spreading it throughout the shires of northern England, to showgrounds and trains
- Josh Hart for investing huge amounts of his love and his brain in www.socialmediasurgery.com, which makes it possible for the surgeries to grow without killing us all
- Hannah Waldram who, when working here at podnosh, refined how we organise them then, through her next job at The Guardian, helped them flourish in Cardiff
- Our own Gavin Wray for patiently keeping the Central Birmingham surgery working whilst teaching loads of others how to run them well
- Tessy Britton for telling me that social media surgeons are militant optimists and for nominating the surgeries.
- Tom Watson for nagging us to do something on blog action day 2008 – hence the first surgery.
Also a thank you for Lawrence at The Studio – who lets us use his Birmingham venue for free (and all the other people who share their venues without charge).
You might like to follow the surgeries us on facebook.
Beside those there are almost 400 volunteer surgeons, particular the people who came to the first one in 2008, and the people who have stepped up to create their own:
Social media surgery managers
In no particular order, here are some wonderful people who have organised social media surgeries over the last three years, all of them remarkably generous people who give their time and love to help make the places they live in a bit better:
- John Popham – Leeds (also Monica Tailor) and oodles of other surgeries across West Yorkshire
- Paul Webster – Surgery Manager at Hulme and Mansfield, and surgeoning across the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West
- Andy Mabbett – Oscott Surgery Manager and surgeoning across Birmingham and the Black Country
- Mike Leigh Cooper and Abhay Adhikari – York
- Mike Rawlins, Jamie Summerfield and Clare White – Stoke, Stone and Stafford
- Nicky Getgood – Digbeth
- Lorna Prescott – Dudley Surgery Manager and regular surgeon in central Birmingham
- Jag Gill – Sheffield
- Hannah Waldram – Cardiff
- Jo Burrill – Lozells & Birchfield
- Joni Ayn Alexander – Llandaff
- Renee Wallace – Shropshire
- Ben McKenna – Bradford
- Michael Waugaman – Yatton
- Nottingham CVS – Nottingham
- Graham Richards – Harrogate and Richmond, North Yorkshire
- Jaki Booth – Southampton
- Kate Sahota – Warwickshire
- Jon Foster – King’s Cross
- Ian Mellett – Cannock
- Esko Reinikainen – Monmouthshire
- Kath Fackrell – Telford & Wrekin
- Dan Slee – Walsall and surgeoning across the Black Country
- Gavin Wray – Central Birmingham and all over the Black Country and brum
- Polly Aplin – Adamsdown
- Mohammed Midhal – Cumbria
- Steph Jennings – Wolverhampton
- Mike McTimoney – Darlington
- Melvin Green – Forest of Dean
- Paul Evans – North Finchley
- Geraldine Nichols and Ed Walker – Roath
- Juliette Llewellyn – Canton
- Kate Sullivan – Llanishen
- Alan Seatwo – Liverpool
- Ross McCulloch – Glasgow
- Matthew Deaves – Rugby
- Steven Flower – Salford
- Sarah Lasker – Maldon District
- Cat Yaffe – Wakefield
- Aidan Kelly – Derby
- Matthew Colleran – Moseley
Thank you all.