Tag: Lozells

Lozells & Birchfield Social Media Surgery, Small and perfectly formed.

I have been helping at a couple of surgeries now including the well established Central Birmingham Surgery and the Wolverhampton Surgery which I helped to get started and each one is different.

Lozells and Birchfield surgery is small and whilst the Central Birmingham surgery is run through podnosh on a voluntary basis this one forms part of our paid work.

Today I returned to Lozells Methodist Church to help the surgery manager Jo Burrill from our client  Midland Heart – a social housing organisation who work hard in communities, and 4 patients who’d registered for today. Selwyn looking for support with his email, Chris and Kevin both with WordPress enquires and Verona who wanted some help posting to a website. It was a nice number and while I helped Chris with his stuff and Jo helped Verona with hers the others got chatting and Kevin turned into an impromptu surgeon to help support Selwyn with his email problems – every one left  happy having received  the help they needed.

Everyone who has attended each of these surgeries either surgeon or patient has left satisfied with their input and that is is the measure of their success, it’s not the number of people that come through the door but being able to help the people that are there. So while in comparison to the to the city centre surgeries of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, Lozells and Birchfield’s Neighbourhood Surgery is small but it’s definitely perfectly formed.

Never been to a wedding; A social media surgery patient I’ll never forget

Methodist Church on Lozells Street Birmingham

Yesterday at the Lozells and Birchfield Social Media Surgery I was paired with a young man who was looking for help setting up a blog for an organisation he was involved with. I started as always by chatting with him a little bit about what the work he was doing and what they wanted to use the blog for when he said something that really pulled what he was trying to achieve into focus for me;

“The girls have babies and the boys shoot and stab each other. I’ve lost count of the amount of christenings and funerals I’ve been to but I’ve never been to a wedding that’s just not what we do”

– He was talking about life in Handsworth and Lozells as he knew it.

The patients name was Mosies, he is a 19 year old ex gang member from Handsworth, He’s not long been found not guilty on a very serious criminal charge, and by his own admittance has been in trouble with the law before, and now he’s taking that experience to not only try and turn his life around but also to try and change the gang culture that plagues youths in some parts of North Birmingham.

He along with other ex gang members from opposing groups in the area, some with criminal records for gang related activities have come together to form the New Day Foundation, They are aiming to try and combat gang culture targeting younger children to educate them on the realities of gang life and try to show them that there are other options to what they think is “normal”,  to change their futures so they can go to more wedding than funerals in their lives!

I sat for an hour and listened to Mosies as he told us about the path he’d taken to be sitting in the room with us that day. Where he’d come from, why he wanted to change the lives of people stuck with the perception that joining a gang was the only option and how he and the other members of his group hoped to do that.

He had the whole room enthralled and as he was telling us how at the age of 14 he stopped going out to the cinema with his friends so he could save his money to buy a gun and all I was thinking was look at you now! 5 years later a changed individual talking about the pride taken in earning money the “proper way”, looking forward to getting a mortgage and hoping the story of your experiences would in some way stop others having to go through it.

–  and that right there is what I like so much about the Social Media Surgery format; Only in a room where people are encouraged to talk to each other and help each other one on one would I have heard Mosies story. At a prescribed training session we’d have all sat in rows listening to one person talking and hoping to pick up the most relevant bits for our needs and no one would have realised the momentous journey this one young man had taken to be there with us.


Using twitter to source a milk float – things you learn at social media surgeries

Tuesday was the first  social media surgery held in Lozells.  Below are some of the folk who turned up to learn and share.  I spent the first 40 minutes with the Bangladeshi Youth Forum, warming them up to some ideas. Interestingly I don’t think I got very far.  For the teenage lads I was talking to,  the social web is a place to show off what’s cool.

Thanks very much to John Heaven and Raj Rattu for their energetic help with organising and the great welcome we had at the Lozells Methodist Church.  We had a busy time with a huge range of ages and abilities, all dipping their toes into social media – creating blogs and trying out Twitter amongst other things.

John has blogged about it on the Digital Birmingham blog over at Lozells.info,

Mark Bent, who runs the newly-opened Boathouse Café in Handsworth Park, set up a blog: boathousecafe.wordpress.com. Saeed, an educationalist and community activist in Lozells, was the first to bag lozells.wordpress.com. I was pleased to see Sharon Morgan, from Come:unity Arts, who is already a seasoned Twitterer! (Don’t forget about the Handsworth ArtWalk that they are organising.)

I spent the second part of the session Sharon.  She had already set up a blog and so we covered some theory, principles of netwroking through the web etc.  Then Sharon told me the absolutely brilliant story of how she used twitter to bag a milk float:

Thanks to Dave Harte, Paul Henderson and Simon Whitehouse for their surgical skills – watch out for news of the next lozells social media surgery at BeVocal.org.uk

Handsworth, Lozells, Twitter and Community Consultation

On Saturday I popped up to Handsworth for a community consultation event.
John Heaven, a council officer, was there live blogging with this wordpress site that he created literally as the event started. John and I also tweeted the event (using different tags – doh) and you can find the streams for the event here and for Handsworth in general here.

If you’re not sure what a hashtag is there is a complicated explication on wikipedia here or put simply its a label than any of us can use on twitter to mark that we are talking about the same subject. When used in a search of twitter the tag then brings together every thing everyone has said about that subject.

It also helps those not in the room watch and join the conversation. So as we twittered about Handsworth from a meeting room in the neighbourhood, observations were added from other parts of the city or country by David Nikkel, Leonardo Morgado, Andy Mabbett, Cyberdoyle and Carrie Bishop.

Carrie even pointed to a new service she has helped create to allow the public to reflect their opinions of police service called MyPolice.org.

So not only has social media been used to creatd a simple and immediate record of the meeting but it has also brought new attention to what is going on and the potential of fresh ideas, input and questioning.

Non of this was planned – John and I just got on with it because we could.

Why was I there? I want to meet some people who could help me set up a very local social media surgery for the area. More on that soon.

I also posted this over at Be Vocal.