Last week I spoke at a regional support group meeting, about some of the innovative work the charity is doing. I always enjoy this as there’s plenty to talk about right now, and always lots of interesting projects happening.
Of course I told them with some pride about our varied online resources and the amazing results we get from channels such as Facebook and Youtube in reaching new audiences. This is especially powerful with projects such as the Underwear & Swimwear Show, using powerful images and video that can be spread easily.
And that’s where things go downhill; cue the usual rolling of eyes, tutting, and complaints that these are all very well for ‘young people’ with computers, and what are we doing for people like them.
To be honest this conversation frustrates me, having started off keen and proud of how we are forging ahead I am now feeling like we are neglecting a core group of our service users! I have to remind myself, and them:
- we are not cutting any of our existing services, by phone, print, or face to face. These are still being provided and growing as ever.
- using the internet is reaching a whole new group of people, of all ages, who are otherwise isolated or would not consider accessing those traditional forms of support.
- these channels have vastly increased opportunities to provide face-to-face support; our events listings let people find support groups and meetings in their area and is the springboard to provide workshops and training in new regions.
I could keep going on, about the many ways the internet is enhancing our charitable work and increasing our range, but the thing that really struck me in this exchange is the patients sitting in the meeting are the patients who have already have the resources, support, and community around them when they need it, and frankly are not the people we need to be striving to reach.
The internet, including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube is just one (albeit very powerful) tool in our charity’s armoury for reaching those that are missing out on support, either through their circumstances or unwillingness to participate in ‘traditional’ support methods.