Community Website Hub

Free WordPress training courses have re-opened

website trainingGood news! The free WordPress training courses we ran during 2013 have re-started. These training sessions are free to any community, village or social group who is looking to set up their own  community website or update an old existing one. If you are a beginner to website design or to WordPress and would like to have training on setting up a WordPress community site, book your place by going to the online booking system . You must:

  • be computer literate
  • have an email address and password
  • have an idea of the content and layout that you want your website to hold
  • bring some images on a memory stick

All training is carried out by an experienced trainer at libraries around the county. The first course is on Thursday 6 February, from 10am – midday at Northampton Central Library.

It is strongly recommended you read the FAQs document first before booking your training. [7/1/14]

Slides from social media evenings available

social mediaWe have now held two social media sessions run by David Bridson, editor of King’s Sutton website and a ‘How to Tweet’ evening with Fiona Cowan from Collyweston.  These have been very useful and we will be running further sessions of both this year. David’s training session looked at “How to use Digital Marketing Techniques to Build an Audience for Community Websites” and if you would like a copy of his slides, please contact Elaine.oleary@northantsacre.org.uk. You can download a copy of the  How to do TWITTER manual that Fiona has written here.  [7/1/14]

NACRE is Twitter savvy thanks to the free training

Thanks to Fiona Cowan I finally understand how to use Twitter and how to make the twitter training 2best use of it to keep others informed of the work we are doing at Northamptonshire ACRE.  On Wed. 23 October a number of keen editors from various villages and committees took the plunge and had a short training session about how to use Twitter to the advantage of their community websites. So hopefully we will be seeing regular tweets from those communities. And many thanks to Fiona, who is editor of the Collyweston site, for passing on her knowledge so well and giving her time. I will post the notes from the evening on the Northants Web Forum shortly. [30/10/13]

Content Review Evening

content is kingFollowing the successful Project Review evening in May, we decided to hold another review evening on Wed. 24th July. This time the aim of the evening was to look at what sort of content a community website ought to include or cover and secondly, how to engage your community with your website, particularly in relation to using social media. Although not as many people attended as the previous review evening, it was certainly a lively and useful event. The notes from the evening can be downloaded here.

You may also be interested in a couple of documents about using social media:

The Website Review evening

Photo of review evening 2The community website review evening was held on Wednesday 29 May at the Hunsbury Hill Centre and was attended by nearly 40 people. There were some extremely interesting and entertaining presentations and all slides can be downloaded below:

 Community Website Hub:

  • Does your community have its own website? 
  • Do all your village groups control their own web pages, to show the world what they offer?

NO… then we may be able to help get you there.
Or if you said YES… we would love you to share some of your expertise with other communities.

A website is a great way for people to find out what’s available in their community – be it entertainment, sports, groups they might join. It’s not the only way to stay in touch – but it can reach an awful lot of people very easily. 

One reason you might say “no” to the questions above is because websites are expensive. Another reason could be that you don’t have someone with the skills to look after one.

Luckily, in Northamptonshire, there’s now a way round these obstacles. And it’s FREE.

This initiative, which is being funded by Northamptonshire Libraries, brings together community web editors and developers across the county, along with community leaders who have no skills at all but are learning fast. We are offering to share our experiences, knowledge and enthusiasm, helping people like you to develop their own web sites in WordPress for FREE. We offer training and support, as well as lots of ideas and resources. And as time goes on, we aim to be able share information between clusters of villages who have things in common.

The project is being run by Northamptonshire ACRE and we launched it on Tuesday 18th September (see below). Our team includes website specialists as well as parish councillors, clerks and other community volunteers. Many of us are on a learning curve, but so far it’s not been at all painful! To see what’s been happening so far then go to the Northants Web Forum site.

If you think any of your community groups might benefit from being able to manage their own website, or would like more inforemation, then you can email us at: northantswebhub@gmail.com.

Background to the project

pic of SteveThe idea for this project came from a member of a village community, Stephen McCarthy, who is a retired Northamptonshire County Council IT professional and a village counsellor. During his time working in IT, Stephen recognised there was a strong need to help rural communities develop or enhance a community website or newsletter through their own efforts. Although there are a number of quite sophisticated village or parish websites available in the county, there are still many villages where no electronic newsletter or website exists and where the residents do not have the knowledge or expertise to develop one.  We want to change that by helping communities to acquire the necessary skills as well as encouraging all editors to become part of a countywide hub of websites and forum members.

Project Aims:

  • To help all communities in the county to develop a website and become part of an on-line neighbourhood – a virtual community able to support, advise and share with each other
  • To enable communities to automatically share information on events, news or campaigns with neighbouring websites.
  • To bring together all current and new village websites into a mapped community website hub maintained by Northamptonshire County Council and accessible to all communities
  • To create an on-line forum of community website editors who can provide support and assistance to each other.

Who will benefit?

  • Any village or group who wants to develop a new community website or newsletter but doesn’t feel they have the necessary skills to take this on.
  • Any village with an existing website or newsletter but where the editors would like to learn about enhancing it with new features. 
  • Any community editors who already have the expertise in developing a website or newsletter, would be willing to share that knowledge and their skills with others and would like to become part of an online forum of community editors.

Training:

We will do this by providing free training sessions on website development in libraries across the county  using WordPress. WordPress is a free open source web software used worldwide to create websites or blogs. Library staff will carry out the training with the aim that in 12 months time we will have a core of volunteer specialist/enthusiasts who are available to support other community members and help extend the level of their knowledge in this area. Check out the new booking system here.

Community Map:

Once you have had your training and your new website comes online, please contact the webteam@northamptonshire.gov.uk to have your website added to this Community Map. community mapNorthamptonshire County Council has set up this online hub of all the current community websites in the county and by clicking on any part of the map, you can drill down to view all the active websites in that area. Current websites are shown as blue dots. Clicking on any of the blue dots will automatically take you to that community’s website. One of the aims of this project is to turn all the red dots to blue dots as more websites come online.

More importantly, this community hub is like a virtual network and will be interactive. Website editors will be able to update their own website with forthcoming events, campaigns, items of news and so on and be able to choose if they would like that information to go to any other community website automatically, saving time and effort!

Community Website launch

To kick off the project, a launch event was held on Tuesday 18th September at NACRE’s  Hunsbury Hill Centre. This was a very successful morning which was due to the enthusiasm and involvement of all those who attended and presented.  This is the attendee list. The following presentation slides are available to view or download:

  • Welcome slides incorporating presentations from Stephen McCarthy and Elaine O’Leary on the background to the project, the community hub and the online forum from Richard Beards and Stephen.
  • The Library Offerpresentation from Grace Kempster, Customer & Libraries Services Manager
  • Kislingbury website case study – Alison Ward’s presentation.

If you would like further information, please contact us at: northantswebhub@gmail.com.

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