Tag: Birmingham UK

Podnosh is based in Birmingham in the UK, so often we write about exciting things that are going on near us.

The perfect mix for June’s Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery

Social Media Surgery May 13th 2009
On our way to the June Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery, I worked out that it’s been six months since our first event in the Studio – the first that I was sort-of involved in. In all that time I don’t think we’ve had a better turnout – for the type of people that have come down and the variety of things that they are interested in.

Scanning down the list of names and organisations that turned up, we had – in no particular order – representatives from two hospices, a city centre residents’ group, a campaign for sustainability in Solihull, a basketball club, a neighbourhood forum and people from two social enterprises.

The help

While the Civic Centre Residents Group continued to get help on their posterous blog (it’s their third time down to a surgery), it was great to see people from two hospices come along. Tony Coulson and Daphne Welch of St Mary’s Hospice in Birmingham received help from Michael Grimes with their website. Mark Binnersley, who is also at the St Mary’s Hospice was helped with Twitter by Catherine Howe – who had come from Brighton to learn more about what the Social Media Surgeries are like here in Birmingham and very kindly stepped in when it looked like we were running out of surgeons.

Given that was only five minutes into the evening – and we already had a pretty full set of tables – it was something of a relief. But she wasn’t the only person more than happy to help out with some of the great variety of different issues that we dealt with that night.

Goodbye to Heidi

Heidi Blanton, who has only recently become a social media surgeon, was charged with helping Paula Mitchell and Jane Hartnell of Acorns Hospice. Sadly this is likely to be the last surgery that Heidi can attend, because she’ll be heading back to the USA for a while, but we hope to see her – at least for a visit – in  the not-too-distant future.

Paula and Jane were looking for help with using social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook to better communicate with the many people who have an association with the hospice. But they also had an inquiry about how they might be able to get news feeds onto their websites with RSS – after Paula was approached by someone trying to sell them the service for a very large amount of money!

Transitions Sutton Coldfield

Another particularly interesting arrival was Lenka Moore, from Transition Sutton Coldfield. I’d not heard of Transition before tonight, but you can learn more about it by visiting the Transition Network site. Andy Mabbett helped Lenka to set up a WordPress.com blog (which I’m trying to find the url for) for the organisation – which looks to make local communities more sustainable in a time of environmental and economic challenges. I asked Lenka a few questions about her organisation and what it hoped to get from setting up a blog.


Internet in a church – the first Yardley Social Media Surgery

Yardley social media surgery

We’ve just ticked off another historic landmark in the development of social media surgeries, with our first Be Birmingham-funded Yardley social media surgery, which I’m pretty sure is the first to be held in a church – St Michael and All Angels.

After a few tricky moments with Wifi (something I’m reluctantly becoming something of an expert in) we were able to impart some help to the church itself, which through Anne Maddox and Mark Hayward is now running its own blog. As you can see from from the post that was put up on the day of the surgery, there are already a lot of interesting things going on with the blog!

Mark has been in charge of the existing church website and is now, thanks to some help from Nick Booth, equipped to use the blog, add pictures and start to explore the benefits this new approach can bring to the community work the church is involved in.

Yardley social media surgery

Mark wasn’t the only person getting help, though. Dan Davies also helped Louise Darwood, who lives in Yardley, with help in setting up a blog and using Twitter.

In the video Louise – who is involved with the Riverside Church in Moseley – explains that she is very interested in becoming more involved in campaigns in her local area and hopes the blogging and using Twitter may allow her to develop her interests further.

This is just the first of our Be Birmingham-funded surgeries in Yardley. There’ll be two more – on June 23 and on July 28 – to look forward to, if you’re interested. And, if you want to find out more about what happened at the surgery, you can read my Surgery Manager’s report on the Social Media Surgery Plus website, here.

Looking forward to June’s Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery

May's Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery in thestudio

We’re now looking forward to the next Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery, which will be at the Studio in Central Birmingham on Tuesday June 8 between 5.30pm and 7pm. The address is 7 Cannon Street, Birmingham, West Midlands B2 5EP.

If you’re from a Birmingham-based voluntary or community group and would like to receive some friendly advice on using social media, then you can sign up for the surgery by following this link to the Social Media Surgery Plus site.

There’ll be another surgery in July and then we’re likely to take a break in August, before being back in September. I’ll give you a dates as soon as possible.

If you’re new to the Central Birmingham surgeries then you can find out a bit more about them by looking at this link. And, if you’ve never been to a social media surgery before, it might be worth reading this blog post, which attempts to explain what there all about.

It’s worth reiterating our earlier thanks to the folk at thestudio for allowing us to use their restaurant area for free. The staff have been brilliant – always very helpful and quite patient with our sometimes slightly tardy departures from the building. Hopefully the weather will be good on the 8th and we’ll be able to enjoy the terrace, too.

Although our last surgery was pretty quiet, there were some really interesting outcomes. In particular, it was heartening to see Emma Neil and Hannah Severn, who are both volunteers at the Birmingham Conservation Trust. I’ve written a little about the last surgery, which also includes a video interview with Emma and Hannah where they talk about their experiences.

It was also great to see a number of our brilliant surgeons down, including Gavin Wray, Mary Horesh of Friends of the Earth, Simon Gray, and Heidi Blanton. The surgeries wouldn’t be able to work if it wasn’t for members of the Birmingham Bloggers group, like the people I’ve mentioned above. They volunteer their time absolutely for free and have helped dozens of people.

What happened at the May Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery

May Social Media Surgery

After some very busy surgeries recently, May’s was small, but perfectly formed. Emma Neil and Hannah Severn from The Birmingham Conservation Trust got help from Gavin Wray and Nick Booth with their blogging work for the trust. Both Emma and Hannah are volunteering for the Trust and have been doing some really interesting stuff since coming to the Central Birmingham surgery a couple of months ago.

They’ve both been blogging assiduously for a while now, on a variety of different subjects for the Trust, as you can see here and here. They also write reviews of local history books, which allows the trust to raise small aounts of money through the Amazon affiliate system.

This time they learned, in particular, about Google Analytics because they’d been worried that too few people were commenting on their posts on the site, as this video interview with Hannah (left) and Emma (right) explains.


Emma and Hannha weren’t the only people to come down – even if we happened to pick the moment the UK got its first coalition government in 70 years. Anna Watson, from Localise West Midlands, was down for her first surgery – and seemed to really enjoy it. Heidi Blanton, who was down to help as a surgeon for the second time,  helped Anna to learn about Twitter, WordPress and other forms of social media.

We also had a visit from Dr Monika Metykova – who is a media and communications research associate at Goldsmith’s. Monika is conducting some really interesting research into changes in media consumption and production – and was down to learn about what we’re doing at the Social Media Surgery. She also got a little bit of help from Simon Gray on setting up a Twitter account. Monika said she was particularly surprised how quickly it is possible to make some really significant, useful steps towards understanding social media at a surgery.

In the video she explains a little bit about the context of her research and how her visit to the Social Media Surgery fits into that.