Community development on Twitter – 3 accounts to follow from Wales
@forsythiayouth (3G’s Forsythia Youth Project, Merthyr Tydfil/Merthyr Tudful) – “Every Young Person is Capable of Greatness” is the account’s strapline and judging by the range of activities portrayed on its twitter account @forsythiayouth is making an admirable effort in helping young people in the Gurnos area of Merthyr Tydfil/Merthyr Tudful realise this. I have lost count of the different types of activity that the group puts on for its service users/members: parenting, sexual health, angling, graffiti art, smoking cessation, mental health, advocacy for and consultation with other young people…they just keep coming. The account appears to be largely run by young people themselves and has a cheery, informal style. But its sense of fun should not disguise the fact that it is seldom shy from covering sober topics; recently it tweeted about its experience of discussing legal highs at the Senedd.
If a tenet of community development is to empower people to change things for themselves, then @forsythiayouth are beacons for other youth groups.
@RGegeshidze (Rachel Gegeshidze, Spice, Carmarthenshire Time/Amser Sir Gâr) – Timebanking is a growing sector where people’s time acts as a currency in communities thus promoting and stimulating a new form of mutualism, and not, as is sometimes thought, a reward for volunteering. It also underpins alternative currencies such as those in Brixton (@Brixtonpound), Bristol (@BristolPound) and hopefully in the not-too-distant future Cardiff/Caerdydd (@CardiffPound). A handful of communities in Wales/Cymru (several of which are Communities First areas) are developing timebanking programmes and infrastructure – Porth and Pontypridd, Ely/Trelai and Caerau, Amman Valley/Cwm Aman – but the one which I think promotes itself the best, and in turn the timebanking movement more generally, is the Carmarthenshire Time/Amser Sir Gâr timebank. However, though the timebank has its own Twitter account (@C1stCarmsTime), I marginally prefer Rachel Gegeshidze’s account because it gives an insight to the community development values and activities that underpins the development of a time bank.
I particularly like how Rachel’s tweets provide an insight into the awareness-raising, education and campaigning side of her work. Like the credit union movement about which I have blogged several times, timebanking runs a risk of being known about but not understood; of being accepted as a positive thing but for reasons that are not fully clear to people.
Rachel’s tweets also lend a terrific insight into other time banks in the UK.
Finally, too few community development-related twitter accounts do not tweet links to narrative about the outcomes that practitioners are achieving. Obviously, Twitter’s restrictions on characters lends itself to snapshots, often in real-time, of community development activities and this is important; but it can also lend itself to signposting followers to more substantial, powerful and affecting accounts of change brought about by community development interventions. A terrifically powerful example of this was tweeted by Rachel recently:
@Com1stEbbwFawr (Ebbw Fawr/Ebwy Fawr Communities First) – there are a ton of Communities First-related Twitter accounts (here is a comprehensive list) and several are effective in shining a spotlight on their activities, communicating with their communities and potential service users, and connecting communities with other initiatives and programmes: @tafcluster, @ECLPCF, @LibbyCFConwy, @CFirst_Barry, @DenbighshireCF, @mon_cf, @communities1st. However, I single out @Com1stEbbwFawr for the purposes of this blog. The CF team behind the account use Twitter regularly, tweeting daily to promote cluster’s projects and interventions and retweeting information complementary to its work (without flooding one’s timeline with RTs – a pet hate of mine):
The feed signposts followers to its Facebook page where much more visual representation of the cluster’s work is available, welcomes new followers (manners, after all, cost nothing) and also advertises local job vacancies (a feature of increasingly more Communities First Twitter feeds).
Occasionally the team tweet about emerging outcomes and though I would like to see more of the latter, indeed from all CF twitter accounts, the balance and blend of tweets overall reflects well on the CF programme and the Ebbw Fawr/Ebwy Fawr team’s work. Last but not least there is a lot to be said for a simple tweet saying ‘this is where we are’