Dialogue 8: Roz Hall of Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) meets Sue Moss: Knowle West Health Association. 16 October 2006
I visited the Knowle West Health Association team aboard the smoking cessation bus. There were quite a few people on board including two local police community support officers and Graham Blacker. People were involved in various activities, such as having a test done to show how much carbon monoxide was in their lungs, viewing work made by local people using digital media on lap tops and having lively discussions about smoking. I was invited to have my carbon monoxide measured and did so. My reading was 56 parts per million, which I was told is quite high. The bus is travelling around Knowle West and is in a different location each day this week.
I spoke to Sue Moss about the digital challenge bid. Sue told me that one way in which the KWHA have used digital technology effectively is through the use of web sites, especially with regard to the domestic abuse project. She told me that this was something that Sandra from KWMC had initially worked on and that at the time when it began it was particularly innovative. She told me that other projects have used it as a model since. The web site clearly let people know where they could go for help and what to do about domestic abuse. She told me that there were also stories and images about people’s personal experiences of domestic abuse. These images and stories had been made during the project with Sandra. She said that more people are now doing digital storytelling work. Sue said that such stories were very useful resources as well as being valuable in terms of the impact of the process for those making the stories. She told me she thought that local people’s stories, as resources were really useful and that there were similar stories on the laptops on the bus today about smoking, and people’s stories relating to it.
Sue told me that KWHA haven’t got an umbrella organisational website, but they do have information on various websites, relating to different strands of work or activities. She said that the organisation has discussed having a website for the whole organisation and have agreed that this is something they want to develop for publicity and communication with others in the field, but that they weren’t sure how many people in the local community would use it or find the web site on line because they aren’t sure that many local people have got access to the internet. She added that wider free access to the internet locally would be a positive thing. Sue said that she envisaged making a web site for KWHA would be a participatory process and that it might thereby also stimulate training opportunities.
Sue then told me about the kitchen project which has just started and how an organisational web site would be a useful space in which to publish things like the recipes from the kitchen project.
Sue then told me that the domestic abuse web site has a guestbook where people can leave comments and that there is also a notice board to keep people informed of things that are going on.
Sue said that KWHA also use digital photography in their work, often for press releases or advertising. However, she added that they could do a lot more work using digital photography. She said that in terms of extending their uses of digital technology she thought KWHA would benefit from doing more work with digital photography and more digital storytelling, and basically do more of the work they currently do with digital technology. In this way they would be building on the successful applications of new media that they have already explored.
Sue then said that it was difficult to know how digital technology might be used to address health issues, but that people with expertise in the applications of new media, such as people who work at KWMC, do have insights into how to effectively use it to address such issues. She said that technical and conceptual support from people who are experienced in using digital media to such ends was what was important and what could be extended. For example, when the domestic abuse project was being evaluated feedback implied that it could be better. She told me that they needed input from people who were experienced in making websites to work out how the website could be better. She added that there was also a significant role carried out by KWMC that was about IT support and that this could be very usefully extended so that voluntary organisations could ensure their equipment is kept up and running.
Sue then told me that KWHA has links with other local organisations, such as Knowle West Health Park, Filwood Hope, the Buddy scheme and KWADs, and that it would be useful if there were ways of signposting people from one organisation to another by having links between websites. She said that this might be a useful way of signposting people to the relevant agencies. Sue suggested that this may be one of the ways in which we could use digital technology to address the need there is for linking up the work that is done by different agencies.
Sue said that there were many ways in which KWHA could do more similarly useful work using digital technology as they have done already. For example, there are many ways in which personal stories can be a catalyst for positive change for the makers and the audience, for example, using people’s stories of giving up smoking as a catalyst for others to give up.