A Yorkshire NHS Trust is the first in the country to use online social networking to engage with local people.
South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust provides mental health and learning disability services to the people of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield and has set up a Facebook group to encourage local people to get involved with the Trust.
The Trust is currently applying to become a Foundation Trust, a different type of NHS organisation based on local people becoming members. The Facebook group is somewhere where people can find out more about membership, as well as contribute to discussions around mental health and issues such as stigma. It allows people interested in the Trust to interact with each other and to make new contacts.
Chief executive Steven Michael said, "Everyone’s talking about Facebook, especially young people, so it seemed like a great opportunity to try and engage with local people. I hope it provides another opportunity for our communities to find out more about their local NHS and how they can have a say."
"As we apply to become a Foundation Trust, we want to give local people as many ways as possible to get involved and find out about becoming a member. We are committed to trying out a variety of ways to connect with local people and Facebook allows us to do this online. It is especially important that we try different methods of reaching out to young people in ways that are familiar to them. We’d love to hear what they think about their local NHS and about how we can help people look after their mental health."
www.facebook.com is one of a growing number of sites that offer ‘social networking’; an opportunity for people to connect with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload photos, share information and join groups that interest them.
Jude Corrigan, communications manager, set up the Facebook group and said, "The Trust’s Facebook group has been up and running for a couple of months and its membership is beginning to grow as it is promoted locally. Current members include Trust staff and local students. Anyone in the Yorkshire and Humber region can join the Trust as a member so in turn we hope that the Facebook group will be successful as more people learn about it. If you’re already on Facebook, why not look up our group and join us?"
Jude added, "We’re happy we were the first NHS Trust to start using this new technology to engage with local people, it shows we’re a dynamic forward-thinking organisation who’s not afraid to try new ways of communicating."
Anyone can join Facebook; they just need a valid email address. People who join have full control over how they share their information and who can see it and they can use their ‘privacy settings’ at any time to change this. To join the Facebook group either follow the link from www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk or search for the group on Facebook, it’s called ‘With all of us in mind – our Foundation Trust’. For information about membership call 01484 343395.