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Voluntary sector aims to bring people together online – The Herald

Voluntary sector aims to bring people together online

  • Lauren Currie
  • Feedback: Lauren Currie, co-founder of Mypolice social networking site.

Stephen Naysmith



26 Oct 2010

Police who tweet, charities using Facebook or taking on citizen journalists – these are just three ways the third sector is embracing social networking.

Online tools are changing the way the public and voluntary sector interact with supporters and the public and an event in Edinburgh tomorrow night will explore advances in the field.

Be Good Be Social will feature talks and workshops from third sector social media experts including Oxfam Scotland, OneKind (previously known as Advocates for Animals), and police feedback website Mypolice.

Ross McCulloch of Third Sector Lab, organiser of the event at The Melting Pot, said, “This is a chance for charities, non-profits and social entrepreneurs to get together to share ideas about how to make the world a better place using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogging. This isn’t just marketing – it’s about bringing people together in online spaces to make a real difference.”

Oxfam Scotland is pioneering the concept through its citizen journalists scheme, which launches this week. The charity is recruiting supporters to be active on the internet, posting comments, blogging and rebutting critics.

When they advertised the roles, there were more than 100 applicants. Contributors will be given guidelines on how to represent Oxfam and help the charity amplify its views.

Spokeswoman Rosie McIntosh said, “For busy people who don’t have time to come in and volunteer or work in our shops, they might re-tweet something or write their own blog. Oxfam and lots of other charities love speaking about themselves, but that is not what social media is about.”

Meanwhile Lauren Currie, co-founder of Mypolice, said many police forces understood the need for a conversation with the public, but found some social network sites too much of a free-for-all. “Mypolice is designed for the public, but the police still have an element of control. The site will help police understand why the public feel the way they do much better and help them target resources more efficiently on the problems that really need it.”

Mr McCulloch added “Some people are worried about the technology element of social media, but that’s really not what’s important. We’re interested in looking at how we can use the internet to give people a voice.”



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