Monday, March 07, 2011

Born To Write: Save the Children Blogging Conference

A great cause and a great event.
There's nothing better than an early morning ride on a Boris Bike from Waterloo, through the old part of London, past the Old Bailey, towards Smithfield Market. The fresh air blasting against one's bearded face and the cold air piercing one's eardrums. This is exactly what I did on Saturday 26th February en route to Save the Children UK's headquarters in order to attend their Born to Write blogging conference.

I must admit the thought of networking first thing on a Saturday did not strike me as a top priority, but thanks to a variety of people engaging me in conversation, not least Denrele who was in charge of tweeting for the day, and some coffee - I hope it was FairTrade guys - I was coerced into being sociable. I'm glad I was too.

The day started in earnest with a couple of speakers: Adrian Lovett, who spoke on how social media could be used to get people thinking about poverty now in a way that the 'Make Poverty History' wristbands did in the early 2000s; this was followed up by Gareth Owen, whose job title is the interesting Director of Emergencies, who talked about how social media is used to get information from the coal face to the public when disaster strikes. Both made compelling arguments.

With one eye firmly on my impending trip to Rwanda and Uganda this April, I attended the workshop run by Colin Crowley, whose role is that of a multimedia journalist in times of disaster. He demonstrated wonderfully the manner in which even the most simple of video and photographic techniques can garner the most potent of responses from the world - taking time in many cases to focus on the story of the individual and not the thoughts of the journalist as news channels often do. A great example of this being an interview he filmed with Andrise, a young Haitian girl.

To round things off, author Melvin Burgess came forward for the key note address discussing the importance of providing a voice for people through listening and retelling their stories. What one could gather from his message was that if, through social media, we can share the voice of the forgotten, the oppressed, the dejected and the downbeat and connect them with the millions of ears out there, we can make a difference.

The day was an immensely worthwhile experience. Every speaker could be said to provide some sort of encouragement for moving my own social media enterprises forward, but doing so in a way that continues to point firmly towards helping others who find themselves in need of a voicebox. 

I'm going to be a busy man in East Africa this April.

I would like to thank Save the Children UK for the opportunity to participate in the conference, with a special thank you to the speakers and Colin Crowley for providing some real inspiration. Save the Children can be followed on Twitter (@SaveChildrenUK).

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