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These are a few notes for Social Media Surgeons which may be helpful. Feel free to add or amend these before or after our first session on Saturday. Given that this is our first session, it is probably best to keep our expectations low in terms of numbers attending. Nick Booth from Podnosh, who runs these sessions nationally, suggests we have no expectations at all! If one person turns up that’s fine. In his experience these things are slow to take off but gradually gather a head of steam as word spreads and people return for a second, then a third session. Some of those who return will eventually become ‘surgeons’ in turn and start to share what they have learned.

The people we want to help are people who are already volunteering in their community in some way. They could be a member of a resident association or community centre. They could also be from a local charity and are curious to know how these tools can benefit their work. The idea is to empower those who do ‘good work’ and strengthen community activism in all its forms. Over time we may come across people who don’t fit this category- corporate types looking for free advice. I suggest we don’t say No to anyone, but we can at least have a conversation with them about why we are doing this and stress that we are all volunteers – some of that may rub off and encourage them to do likewise. The subjects covered could be anything – and here I will shamelessly plug certain key messages that go with my job and ensure the backing of my team for this initiative. In the end however, go where the energy is: the sudden pick up of interest as you talk through different social media tools and their application. Maybe you can get the ‘patient’ to talk a little bit about what they do in order to get an idea of what might be most useful to them. The range of social media tools you should try and cover include:

Tool Notes/ examples
Facebook the Facebook page for City Council Communities Team (the people who are contacting different community groups about Social Media Surgeries) www.facebook.com/southamptonscommunities
Twitter The Communities team are on Twitter, follow us on @southamptonscom
Southampton Placebook Map of community groups
Southampton City Council Your Community pages The Communities team will be adding online resources to these web pages over the summer ie templates, how to guides, all info to help community groups get started or do more we also have a regularly updating news feed about local communities and stories of how people can get more involved in their community www.southampton.gov.uk/living/comliving
Southampton City Council Grants for community groups pages The Communities team have a set of pages which help community group find and apply for funding www.southampton.gov.uk/living/grants/
YouTube Neighbourhood  action videos
My Society.org A range of tools, some more or less coming under the heading of social media – see especially the FixMyStreet
WordPress.com Start your own blog. Some interesting wordpress sites includeThe Elephant Amenity Network, Fairstead.org
Flickr Photo sharing. http://www.flickr.com/groups/992728@N21/ example of a now global photography project
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It’s a year this week since I first posted my bin blog post.  That makes this blogpost all the more timely.  For the last month we’ve been living in our new flat, where we are blessed by Wheelie Bins.  I say blessed – I do like them – we have room outside to store them and can clear out our rubbish whenever we like – no more missing bins night.  My struggle with them has been that I have no idea how to capture this new habit in a weekly post.  So, I think I won’t.  There is a slim chance that some of you may miss this weekly photo, in which case I’m sorry to disappoint.  There’s a greater chance that I’ll miss the chance to have a go at the Council when they slip up with our service.  But actually I think that’s a price worth paying. I’ll still keep my eye out for interesting or useful Bins stories/photos, but for me it’s time for something new.
What? I hear you cry.  What new form of weird do you have in mind?

Baltis

I have previously been the cockney of the Balti – if indeed that is a claim – I have lived within the smell of a balti restaurant, in the heart of the Balti Triangle in Birmingham.  That smell is one of the things I miss about Brum.  So tonight, we’re going to check out our local.  The Sunrise Balti & Tandoori Restaurant.  I’m not wildly optimistic; it looks rather like the sort of place that squeezed room on its sign for the word balti – and added Chicken and Lamb Balti to its menu.  Though I should say that the review posted on bview is very positive; parking being the only issue, but I guess a 250 yd walk is probably do-able!

Anyway, this is where my new idea leapt from.  I should keep a track of the Balti restaurants we find down here and start to record what they are like.  I’m thinking of noting a few standard measures and commenting against each of them.

Of course, there is no reason to restrict it to down here – I may even begin with a quick word on our favourite for the last 20 odd years: The Punjab Paradise on Ladypool Road, Birmingham.  The picture on the left captures 3 of my friends at a Twalti earlier this year.  I have to say the service was abysmal – never sit upstairs, they just seem to forget you.  But the food was great as ever – and the company too.

I’d be very pleased to hear your ideas of the kind of areas I should be reporting on.  So far I have in mind:

  • location
  • parking
  • warmth of welcome
  • atmosphere
  • menu variety
  • provenance of food
  • taste flavour
  • licensed or not
  • price
  • after-effects

So, let me know what you think, watch this space and the Balti tag and we’ll see how well the Balti has travelled all these miles.

The first from our new flat. Btw it’s Thursday, a day later than previously!

A trip to the tip

On 12 June 2009 I announced in my blog post about a Twitter session I had presented, that I had accepted a new job in Southampton.  Since then, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, I haven’t returned to the subject here on my blog.  Yesterday I discovered that a friend had come here to find out what I was up to, having heard only the rumours – and found nothing.  So I decided to bring my eager readers right up to speed with a look back over our journey of the last 4 months.

Having decided to move, we began our search for a school, somewhere to live in Southampton and in Loughborough (it’s a long drive every day!).  We knocked off flat-hunting in 2 days (1 per place).  We found a couple of great flats (the one down south being directly opposite Waitrose, which will reduce my carbon footprint!).  Unfortunately, we’ve been caught up in the nightmare of sorting them ever since.  Still nearly there, it looks like we’ll move into both over the weekend of 16 October – hurray!  Just the small chore of finishing packing, filling /unfilling vans, unpacking and then hoping we’ve sent the right possessions to the right end of the country.  I can’t wait for the fish and chips on the evening of 19th, oh, and of course, the return of the bins not long after 🙂

Finding a school was a nightmare – remind me why we had our child at the same time as all those millennium babies: all the schools where we wanted to live were full.  All that is, except one, and it happened to be the nearest to the flat.  We loved it on the visit and Pip spent the summer months showing off her uniform and waiting to start.  So, she was the first of us to make the transfer to her new life.  She started in early September.  She loves it: she was elected onto school council and is a member of the journalism club who write the school newspaper – she’s got a great future ahead of her one way or another.

I started the new job on 21 September.  What a privilege to be General Manager of Southampton Univeristy Students’ Union.  It’s a dream of a Union: we enjoy enormous student participation, work with a great bunch of people (staff and students) and are located mainly on a leafy campus complete with a babbling brook and students sitting on the grass chatting.  This really is the SU job of my dreams.  I’ve loved the first couple of weeks getting to know my colleagues and I am looking forward to working with them to do the best we can to give our students the greatest university experience we can.

So that’s a relief!  I had a massive feeling of trepidation driving in on the first day: what if I hated it?  My fabulous husband and delightful daughter have agreed to support me on this big life adventure and relocate our lives.  We are all massively rooted in Birmingham – all 3 born there and mostly lived all our life there.  It was a big ask, so it needed to be worthwhile.  Phew.

We’ve been living a travelling life.  For the first 3 weeks, each was in a different B&B, hotel and apartment.  My parents joned us for my first week at work, which was great.  The last few weeks of waiting for our flat are being whiled away in the incredibly welcoming home of our old friend Dave and his family in Winchester.  Dave coincidentally, welcomed me and my brothers to Birmingham when we moved back there in 1977.

We made friends with a great family, who relocated from Dorset in the summer and their youngest daughter started new in Pip’s class at the same time.  They’ve regularly saved my childcare bacon and provided a cuppa and comfy sofa during those first few weeks when we lived in B&Bs.  I’ve also met a couple of women who work at the University of Southampton, thanks to Twitter where a friend in Brum put us in touch.  I even managed to go to a Tweet Up.  That was such a great place to meet people and I will do all I can to be at the next one.

So all in all a lot to take in.  The location is great; it’s not like Brum, but I don’t think anywhere can be quite as comforting as the place you’ve called home for the last 32 years.  We’re saying goodbye to so many special people: friends and family.  I will miss some of you dreadfully – I already do.  But life is for living and just sometimes it’s invigorating to step right out of a comfort zone.

So, we’re still driving back up to Brum every Friday (I’d strongly advise against the A34 north round Oxford on Friday evening btw)!  But hey, we get to pack more boxes every weekend and share time with our good friends.  We’re gonna miss you lots, but not quite yet – which reminds me, it’s Thursday night, I should go and pack our bags…

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