An example of how a council worked with partners to raise the awareness of Black history and lived experiences in its area.
Worcester City Council used its social media platforms to deliver a social media campaign with daily content throughout October, to raise awareness of the influence black people have made in Worcester.
The council has celebrated Black History Month through specific, targeted activity for the first time, establishing a precedent for future years. A predominantly white community has learnt a great deal about the experience of being black in society today and about the history of black people locally - from Roman times onwards. All stories collected have been shared with the Worcestershire Archives Service which will leave a legacy for future generations and as such, black voices have gained greater access across our city. Better links have been made by the city council and others with existing partners, links have been made with new partners and the council has engaged with new community groups.
However, there was unfortunately one complaint via the local MP’s office and nine people making negative comments on a Facebook thread - all insinuating that the project was inciting division in the community.
Social media activity on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter increased as a result of the campaign - to summarise there were:
- 117 new followers
- Over 50,000 more impressions than an average month across all platforms, an increase of 350%
The key to the success of the campaign was working with members of the black community in Worcester to help inform and guide the content of the social media campaign and events. Only 1% of the total population in Worcester City identify as black or mixed-race (Source: UK Census Data, Worcester) so it was important that it was a community-led project and not something imposed upon the community by the local authority. This was only possible by partnerships working to make connections.
The biggest challenge was the initial lack of response to the request for members of the black community to come forward with stories about life in Worcester through social media. This was mitigated by talking to the Black Lives Matter Worcester group and The Worcester Collective directly who were able to give some feedback. After discussion with these groups, it was concluded that people were possibly afraid to come forward, fearing repercussions.
COVID-19 restrictions meant that events were very few, small or online which was somewhat limiting; however the few small events that did take place were filmed and shared on social media and the project group feel this is a positive foundation for future Black History Months.
It is hoped that the information presented on social media went some way to inform people why we celebrate Black History Month. It was critically essential to work with the support of such a broad range of organisations and community groups and not develop the initiative in isolation, with the potential to alienate those very groups and individuals who are core to the integration of the city.
The campaign consisted of at least one daily post which was very time consuming for one person and not sustainable long term. Future campaigns will be shared between team members within the City Council and it is hoped that there will be even more contributions from the community, building upon this year’s initial success.
The social media campaign took place on the following platforms:
The Mayor’s Speech can also be seen here during the week 2nd – 9th October 2020.
- BBC Hereford & Worcester
- Black Lives Matter Worcester
- Duckworth Worcestershire Trust
- Members of the Community
- Museums Worcestershire
- Platform Housing
- The Hive – Joint Council and University Library Service
- The Swan Theatre
- The Worcester Collective – Local community group celebrating diversity
- University of Worcester (UoW)
- UoW African & Caribbean Society
- Worcester Cathedral
- Worcester Live – Main Arts provider in Worcester
- Worcestershire Archives Service