Background: Sandwell Networkers Group
We support the Sandwell Networkers Group which brings together up to 500 individuals and community-led groups in Sandwell and has over 250 members on its Facebook page.
The group has run an annual in person celebration event, Celebrate Sandwell. 2020 was to be the fourth year of the event.
Because of the impact of the Covid19 pandemic, the group thought they would have to cancel the annual celebration.
Bringing the event online
We worked with the group to bring the event online for members of the group’s private Facebook page. Anyone with a connection to Sandwell is eligible to apply for membership and we accepted several new membership applications leading up to and during the event.
From the beginning of June, the group coordinator Richard asked group members, mainly local organisations, to submit short video clips about what they do and were doing during lockdown. We also agreed to link up with performers coming together elsewhere on a Zoom channel on the day.
Pauline loaded a brief programme listing all the submissions to the Files section on the group’s page.
Event running order
The online event was ‘opened’ with a video clip made by the Mayor of Sandwell, Cllr Dr Ann Jaron.
Over the next four hours, between 11am and 3pm, all the other videos were played. We interspersed the videos with periods in the Zoom channel where a group of musicians and poets were performing live as part of the event. The Zoom link was shared on the event page.
In the last hour of the event, we invited a few people to join Richard and Pauline ‘backstage’ for a chat in the video conferencing channel.
In the final 30 minutes we did a Facebook Live where Pauline mentioned and thanked each of the groups which had submitted content for the event.
Coordination during the day of the event was done using a video conferencing channel between Richard and Pauline. We also used an IM group to loop in other interested parties. We posted the Zoom link at regular intervals so participants could check out the performances on the Zoom channel.
Groups learned they could make a short video on their phones or repurpose existing video and send it to the coordinator. These clips were then uploaded to the Facebook page on the day by Pauline.
This event didn’t come together overnight. It benefited from community links, knowledge of digital, and events management experience.
Groups realised they could use video conferencing for informal connecting, before and during the event.
A number of groups and individuals said this event developed their digital skills and awareness through them wanting to be a part of this annual event.