First steps of legup.social MCR
It’s been 6 months since Paper has decided to take up the challenge to introduce legup.social to a new city. Following the success with events in Sheffield we decided to branch out to Manchester. This article will talk about the Manchester event and how we are establishing ourselves in the new environment.
First things first, let us introduce what legup.social is: legup.social is a free-to-attend monthly event where digital professionals volunteer to support and advise people who want to gain confidence in digital skills.
legup.social SHF has been running in Sheffield for the past two years, and in late 2018 we bridged over to Manchester. Since then, we’ve had two legup.social MCR events with a total of 16 participants (mentees and mentors).
The mentoring is one-to-one: we pair the mentors and mentees based on the mentors’ skills and mentees’ needs. Mentees can come back as many times as they like and they can switch mentors to access the full range of experience and skills our community has to offer.
Establishing legup.social in Manchester started with securing a space where we could host our event. Federation is a well-known coworking and event space for people in the digital industry in Manchester, so we kicked things off there.
At our first “rehearsal” event we discussed the importance of having an event space that feels accessible and welcoming for people, and how Federation (although lovely) might not be well known or accessible enough for the mentees we wanted to engage with. Hence, we agreed to seek out spaces that were closer to the people we wanted to help.
Our contact from Manchester City Council put us in touch with the Central Library Business and IP Centre, who welcomed us with open arms and is now legup.social MCR’s home venue. The venue is perfect because it is based in central Manchester, accessible and well known to everyone.
Mentors (the northern soul)
In the beginning, we thought that securing the mentors would be the hardest part of organising the event but it turned out to be one of the easiest to tackle.
The support we have received from our peers in the Manchester digital community has been amazing. It’s not surprising but it is always inspiring to us that Manchester has people so willing to get involved and to help others.
We are still growing the number of mentors (currently, we have 12 MCR mentors) joining legup.social. Some have already started getting more involved beyond mentoring, helping and organising parts of legup.social.
We’re always on the lookout for new mentors, if you’re interested just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll walk you through how you could get involved.
The areas of digital support that we can currently offer, according to our mentors’ areas of expertise, are Digital Marketing, VR, how to start your digital company/organisation, user-led design, service design and social media PR. If you are knowledgeable about one of these please still get in touch as there is a demand for more.
Mentees (how to gain the attention of Manchester)
Even though finding mentors was simple, finding mentees was not as easy. We were, and still are, new to Manchester, and we don’t have any advertising or marketing budget to speak of.
Our first event didn’t manage to recruit any mentees, so we did a mentor only event where we asked attendees to focus on the main problem legup.social MCR was facing: the lack of mentees.
Mentors came up with different ideas that were incorporated into our strategy for the next event.
Change of language: saying “digital” means different things to different people. For people who are working in digital professions, it’s natural to use digital as a way to describe your interactions, work and presence online. But that might not be the case for people who we are trying to engage with. One of the mentors’ suggestion was to use different language to describe what help can we offer to people by being more specific on what help they can gain from legup.social.
Where we are promoting: promoting an event that offers to help with digital only on digital platforms is not great for reaching the people who might lack digital skills. At the same time, we are trying to get attention from skilled digital users who need help in specific digital areas. Promoting the event through newsletters and networking events has helped us gain more attention from potential mentees as well as keeping the promotion up on digital platforms as well.
Who is inspiring us?
Charities such as Dynamic Support of Greater Manchester, led by Yvonne Edouke, promotes the benefit of all women in Greater Manchester, especially Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women who are seeking Asylum or have been granted refugee status. They support them by promoting good health and well-being, provision of recreational facilities in the interest of social welfare and helping them face issues that impact on their quality of life
When asked, Yvonne described what she hoped to gain from legup.social: “To tell the truth, we lack digital skills, and being a leader, I really need to be a role model and demonstrate conduct that will bring profit and productive, but the main way to do that is by effectively using Digital means.”
They joined our January event where they worked with our Digital marketing mentor Csilla to get a better understanding of how they can promote themselves through social media and create a more permanent presence in the digital world. We are looking forward to seeing how they progress on their digital path and hope they continue being involved with legup.social
What next for legup.social MCR
We are still growing and evolving as an event based in Manchester and we are extremely grateful for the support of the city’s community. We are determined to become a sustainable event in Manchester and that can only happen with the support of the community and other support organisations in Manchester.
Some of the suggestions we got from our first “rehearsal” event have been implemented already and some are still in our to-do list to be adopted later on. All we can promise at the moment is that we will try our best to help more and more people and get better at the language we are using, as well as the way we are recruiting.
If you want to take part as a mentee or a mentor please contact email@example.com