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What is ‘Teacambs’?

As we’ve stated here, Teacambs is Cambridgeshire’s branch of a wider informal ‘teacamp’ movement. Teacamps are informal gatherings of people who have a passion for digital and social media in the public sector. We meet once a month to share tea, cake, ideas and learning. Whitehall has had its own teacamp for several years – one which has significantly shaped the Government’s ‘digital by default’ agenda. (Take your pick from the Government Digital Service’s website)

Who is behind the local version?

The three ‘convenors’ (for want of another phrase) who got together to launch Teacambs are a former civil servant along with two local council officers from district and county council levels respectively.

Who attends and from which organisations?

For our first four gatherings we’ve had anywhere between 10-15 people attending from a variety of organisations as well as interested citizens. Representatives from Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council have contributed to previous sessions, as have friends from the Open Knowledge Foundation and the YouCanHub. We have also had a visit from the Government Digital Service.

Does this mean people from outside of the public sector can attend?

Correct – it does not matter whether you are inside or outside of the public sector. We want to break the silos locally, bringing together people from across the county who want to make a positive difference.

Does my job have to involve communications or social media in order to come along?

Not at all. One of the myths that we would like to bust is that you need to be in a certain job or of a certain grade in order to come along or get involved in all things social media. While people in formal communications roles may well be interested, this should not prevent those in other roles from attending. For example we hope that people who get out and about to interact with the public – such as the uniformed services and those that work in our neighbourhoods to come along. The same goes for those across the grade ranges in the public sector. PAs and administrative assistants are just as welcome as directors and chief executives. The common denominator should be having a passion for digital and social media, not job titles or job functions.

I have a social-media-related work problem. Can you help?

We can try! What others have done at other ‘teacamp’ style gatherings is they have invited people to bring specific problems or issues along. We can’t promise to solve everything – or anything, but the discussions that stem from such actions more often than not help things along.

I’m an elected councillor – please can I come along?

Of course! However, you will need to be mindful that there might be one or two people nervous at the idea of politicians being there. In order to deal with this, we may need to develop a couple of conventions – such as not raising anything that could be seen as party-political. Essentially see your presence as that of a civic leader – there to support, contribute and learn.

My (public sector) organisation ‘doesn’t do social media’

Chances are it won’t remain that way for long. The seismic change on organisational attitudes towards social media (as far as the public sector is concerned) has come about through the publication of new guidance from Cabinet Office. The guidance is here. A couple of us behind Teacambs fed into the development of this guidance.

If your organisation is currently or about to take the first tentative steps into the world of social media, come and join us. There are a number of people who have been using social media for years and are more than happy to share their learning with you!

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