Social Media and Health – A Workshop in Blackbird Leys

I’ve been really enjoying working with The Conservation Volunteers on their social media content and was delighted to be invited to prepare and delivery a workshop on beginner’s social media skills, focusing on Facebook and Twitter.

The workshop was part of TCV’s ongoing People’s Health Trust‘s HealthStrong CIC funded project in Blackbird Leys, Oxfordshire. The People’s Health Trust believes in a society without health inequalities. They are working to ensure that where people live does not unfairly reduce the length of their life, or the quality of their health.

But how does using Facebook and Twitter help reduce health inequalities? The UK Government’s Digital Inclusion Strategy (updated December 2014) believes that reducing digital exclusion can help address many wider equality, social, health and well being issues such as isolation. 81% of people, over 55, say being online makes them feel part of modern society and less lonely.

I was asked to deliver a workshop focusing on social media skills for beginners, to help people to start to interact online. It seemed sensible to focus on Facebook and Twitter. These two social media platforms are currently the UK’s most popular – Facebook is predominately used for informal contact between family and friends and Twitter is great for following news as it breaks, live events and having real-time conversations.

The most interesting thing I gained from this first workshop was talking to the participants about why they wanted to use social media and what concerned them about using it. Most people wanted keep in contact with people, but they also really wanted to use social media more effectively for promoting local causes or businesses. However, nearly all the participants were very concerned about online privacy and this was the main reason why they didn’t use social media as much as they wanted to.

The first workshop took place in the well appointed computer room in the Blackbird Leys Community Centre, which meant the workshop format could alternate between PowerPoint presentation (participants were invited to ask questions at any time) and letting people put what they had just learned in to practice.

The content of the course was written to all have relevant local content  and I thought it was particularly important to signpost participants to where they could find more help getting online in their local area.

I certainly learned a lot from writing the workshop material and enjoyed my first experience of running a training course of this kinds. I hope the participants felt the same.

The content I am helping write for The Conservation Volunteers can be found on their Berkshire Facebook page and on their Berkshire Twitter account. A version of this blog post was originally published on rachstevens.com.

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