Wednesday, 23 March 2011


This evening it's the long awaited (by me, anyway) panel presentation for Amplified Leicester at Phoenix Square film and Digital Media Centre: “Amplified Communities of Faith or Belief”. The whole presentation was recorded; you can watch it on vimeo.

Groups working in the Protected Characteristic of Religion or Belief (as described in the Equality Act 2010) are some of the biggest users users of social media. But for what purposes? Each of the panellists shows how their organisations use social media to different ends - some surprising and unexpected - related to extending spheres of influence; promoting effective social action; engaging children and young people; fostering rational discussion and debate.

In the photo above, Sue Thomas, Professor of New Media in the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, introduces the panel (left to right, Matt Hughes, Richard Hopper, Sughra Ahmed, me).
Matt Hughes Matthew works at the Samworth Enterprise Academy, a Church of England school in Leicester which has focuses on the Christian ethos in education. He manages IT provision there, which involves response to social media. He also runs a training, design and development social enterprise called Engage Multimedia who work with various charities and community groups in the local area.
Richard Hopper Richard is a science researcher at De Montfort University. He is also Secretary of the Leicester Secular Society, the oldest active one in the world – and still based in the first meeting place in the world purpose built for secular discussion. Richard recently set up a Facebook group to promote the society. The group now has over 50 members.
Sughra Ahmed Sughra is a Research Fellow in the Islamic Foundation’s Policy Research Centre. She is a Trustee of the Interfaith Network UK and Director of Leicester Council of Faiths. She recently published Seen and Not Heard: Voices of Young British Muslims. She organised flashmob iftar during Ramadan and “Picnic in the Park” thereafter, feeding homeless people and refugees, coordinated through Facebook.

I’ve done a good job selecting interesting panellists – too good a job! Each of them gives a presentation lasting ten minutes then takes a few questions. A few too many questions maybe. The cumulative effect is that, having left myself to last, I have hardly a couple of minutes to sum up and to say something interesting about use of social media by the Council of Faiths. I hope I manage to do that; for once, less really is more!

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