Posted by: William Perrin | January 22, 2009

Talk About Local – training thousands of people to set up community websites in their neighbourhood

The dialogue on ultra or hyperlocal publishing around this site has led me to create a proposal to help active citizens create ultra or hyperlocal sites about their neighbourhood/community/locality.  The proposal is about skills, not technology platforms and has the working title ‘Talk About Local’.  I have been driven by my own experience in Kings Cross and inspired by wonderful community resources we have discussed on this site such as Parwich, Digbeth and Formby.

Talk About Local intends to train thousands of people who don’t have a voice to find a powerful online expression for their neighbourhoods, even if they can’t use the internet today. The project will create a legacy of independent community sites across the country, owned, mainstreamed and updated by ordinary local people as a volunteer effort.

Talk About Local will train several thousand people in 150 disadvantaged places in England to set up locality/community/neighbourhood based websites.  The project will use UK online centres as its delivery backbone.  Talk About Local will catalyse an online resource and community for people publishing neighbourhood or community websites, so that people can help each other.

Talk About Local is about giving people skills and empowering communities.  The project will empower active citizens who already have a burning need to communicate as they campaign for cleaner streets, better schools, activities for young people or put on local arts or organise a village fete.  Talk About Local will give these citizens the basic skills to communicate online more effectively and at less cost than using traditional means.  By networking citizens together, they will be able support each other in their local activism, as well as on technical publishing issues.  This will lead to stronger more effective community action.

Talk About Local is not about building new technology platforms. The project will train people to use powerful but easy to use free platforms such as Typepad, WordPress, Blogger, YouTube, Face Book discussion forums etc. Talk About Local will be sustainable as it aims to train people who already volunteer their time to use free platforms.
Talk About Local will be a not for profit organisation, possibly a charity in the medium term.  It intends to raise money to spend on training, it is not a commercial, revenue raising model.

The aims of the project will only be delivered through partnership.  Talk About Local intends to partner with the UK online centres network of 6,000 centres in the most deprived parts of England that exist to give people the skills and confidence to use the internet.  We are open to approaches from other partners, we are talking to media organisations, regional development bodies and technology companies.

Talk About Local is working with 4IP, the innovation arm of the UK public service broadcaster Channel 4 to bring a partnership together.  The Chief Executive of Channel 4 referred to the project in a speech at this link.  If you wish to partner this project we’d love to here from you contact me via



  1. Hey William,

    Great work! This should really help getting more people to communicate online about their local issues. Will be interesting to see how it goes.

  2. […] Perrin has posted further details here of his plan to train thousands of local activists to run community websites in 150 disadvantaged […]

  3. Congratulations, Will.

    Well, well deserved.

    If you’re about on the 28th, come along to our ‘VIP Club’ meet..

    Us Very Independent Publishers need to get in a huddle together!

  4. This plugs in to something I’m involved in – would love to talk more.

  5. I would add the following: getting people online isn’t the hard part; keeping them active there, blogging etc. is and relies on a coherent online community strategy so they don’t feel they’re shouting into a hole. Lots of ideas and experience on this…

  6. Sounds fantastic, I set up a blog for Preston – city where I live – recently and it’s been going really well. Anything that gets more people into it and involved is a good idea.

  7. Best of luck with your project, I’ve heard a lot of talk about this kind of thing over the years. Nice to see someone going out and doing it,

  8. […]…  […]

  9. […] Talk About Local – training thousands of people to set up community websites in their neighbourhood … a project to help neighbourhoods take advantage of social networking (tags: neighbourhoods social.networking digital.empowerment) […]

  10. […]… […]

  11. This is an excellent idea – if there is anything we can do to help promote Talk About Local (possibly to our members) don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  12. I think Paul Bradshaw made a very good point: “getting people online isn’t the hard part; keeping them active there”.

    It worries me that this project is so resolute about being non commercial. It’s great that 4IP will be able to kick start a move to get this going in a number of regions. However, the only way it can ever gain traction is by offering the people that contribute to it the chance to make a small penny off the back of it. And that won’t be done through Google AdSense or to any appeal to local communities more charitable instincts.

  13. MCIN is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. we have been around since 1994 and in April will be re branding as People’s Voice Media. We operate 14 community web site across Greater Manchester which are mixture of geographic locations and also communities of Interests including deaf community and ethnic minorities. We run a community reporters programme with 150 members who use a number of social media tools to produce content which is displayed on our sites. We also have a partnership with the BBC and our reporters attend a training session with the editor of North West tonight and we also have a partnership with the University of Salford and are supporting there MA in Social media. We run 2 social media centres and are connected to another 20 community centres across Greater Manchester many of them Uk On-line Centres. I am very interested in this and happy to support.

  14. […] The concept of ‘local’ is pretty hot right now. There is the upcoming launch of Talk about Local, for example, which ‘intends to train thousands of people who don’t have a voice to find a […]

  15. What a great idea! Would be really happy to help with this – I run a political literacy project called Youth Act at the Citizenship Foundation that trains young people to get involved in their local communities by campaigning on issues of interest so we might be able to help with resources, information etc?

  16. […] Perrin has a plan. He wants to train thousands of people to set up community websites in their neighbourhoods across the UK. And it’s very likely a lot of this work will take place in Birmingham. […]

  17. […] with William in my new role as interim Chair of UK Online Centres Foundation. He is developing a new venture to provide training and support to people setting up community websites.   Some of these sites are fantastic but they tend to be reliant on the unpaid dedication of […]

  18. Intriguing idea.

    Is it England-only for now?

    (I tried UK Online Centres search and there don’t seem to be any centres in Scotland or Wales.)

  19. I would be vey keen to esatblish connections with work we have begun / planned in Canning Town, Newham. And migrate our “Resident researcher” programme into a Local “social reporting” programme.

  20. […] talking about the development of his Kings Cross site and how that spurred him into developing his Talk About Local project, that will enable pretty much anyone who wants to to develop a community blog with training […]

  21. I am developing a proposal for local community internet TV stations, and would be very keen to talk to / partner with you.

  22. […] In a previous post I mentioned that this type of community website is springing up all over the country.  Since then I have heard of a project to promote this being sponsored by Channel 4.  The project is called Talkaboutlocal and more information is available here. […]

  23. I’m trying to get this sort of thing going for my local community. It’s really early and I’m still learning how things work and struggling to get local people contributing so I’d love to pick up the successes and any hints and tips from all those who have been going longer. See my efforts at and good luck with your project!

  24. I would like Wiliam Perrin to contact me please

  25. […] Filed under: Uncategorized — edmayo @ 2:00 pm Great to see the upsurge of local community sites online – classic collaboration and it is getting easier all the time… Leave a […]

  26. just to let u know that anyone can become a registered user and post content onto the AboutMyArea national network of local community websites.

    Our registration page here in Sunderland is :

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