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Community group learns about social networking

Published 03/11/2011

Community and voluntary groups in Northern Ireland have just completed an eight-week pilot project aimed at helping them develop their digital presence.

The Digital Community Programme was organised by East Belfast Enterprise with funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the Building Change Trust.

Representatives of a wide range of groups - including those working with young people, the unemployed and older people - met weekly at the City East centre on the Newtownards Road in Belfast where guest speakers covered topics such as developing social media through Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and Youtube, maximising search engine optimisation and how to use online research tools.

Ruairi Perry, business adviser for East Belfast Enterprise, explained: "The aim of the pilot project has been to help community and voluntary groups in Northern Ireland to get better use of online tools and to give them a new skill set when it comes to digital training, in particular developing their skills in being able to make maximum use of social media.

"We are very appreciative of the funding we have already had but we are hoping that, due to the success of the pilot project, we can secure additional funding to extend the programme next year."

Claire Killen, of Voice of Young People in Care - one of those who took part in the course - said: "We decided to get involved as we felt we really needed to dip our toes in the whole social media area. Our organisation works with young people and we all know how much they are using social media."

Jason Nicholson, who works with East Belfast Mission's Stepping Stones project, said: "What we got out of the programme is huge. We were not involved in any way in terms of social media and digital marketing so it has been of tremendous benefit to us."

Tony Morrison from the Ballymena East Rural Community Cluster, said: "I got involved in the course as I am very much a novice when it comes to understanding social media, using it and selling its applications. At the start I was at nursery level but I feel I have moved up the grades slowly but surely every week."

The second stage of the project over the coming weeks will provide mentoring support for the various participants.

Video by millargrattanmedia

Belfast Telegraph

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