The DDCC Facebook Group was launched in August 2018 but we really didn’t get going until the 28th Oct 2018. The aim was to twofold. First, to improve our communications and to better inform people what was being done to improve where we live, work, have fun and raise families. The second was even more important – to engage the community and provide a channel where opinions could be gathered, debated and acted upon.

Initial growth was fantastic, and six months later we continue to grow steadily with new members joining every week. Our first member was Heather Smith and within a month we had 200 members. Now, we have nearly 700. The size of the group is important as it allows the DDCC to make investment cases and change arguments to East Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Government and other fund providers. The more they see how active we are as a community the higher the chances of obtaining rare and competitively fought over funds.

The group is run by an Administrator (Steve Gillies) and 2 Moderators (George Gardner & Jennafer Swanson). The intention is to change the admin and moderation team over time. A set of policies have been developed setting out rules of general use, behaviours, content and business use. One of the most satisfying aspects of the last 6 months is that we have had very few incidents where the moderators have had to intervene. Again, this is very important as there was initial reluctance from some members of the DDCC to having a social media presence based on bad experiences on other sites.

We do have higher standards than other similar sites especially to the use of language and to on-line behaviour. In total we have removed 1 post as it arguably contained a violent image, 2 posts that were off-topic and unrelated to the purpose of the site, and 1 person has been asked to leave the group for promoting a potentially illegal IPTV service. This is very low compared to other similar groups so everyone should congratulate themselves for embracing and adhering to the vision and principles of the site.

Keeping posts on-topic is very important to us. There are plenty of other social media sites where general topics can be discussed (e.g. football, politics, fashion, music) but this is the only one that is focussed on Darvel, Priestland and the surrounding area. Several groups, businesses and good causes use the DDCC Group to promote their services and special promotions. This helps us develop into a connected and informed community.

We have had several ‘pop-up polls’ to gather opinions on specific subjects including aspects of how to develop and implement the Darvel Lottery. These seem to work well, and we plan more in the future. We have also launched the Darvel Magazine and our sister group Dawn to Dusk. The Darvel Magazine provides us with the ability to publish longer form (although still fairly short) articles about local subjects and news. We currently have 12 volunteer authors and are seeking more.  The Dawn to Dusk Group is focused on producing over time a photographic record of Darvel, Priestland and the surrounding areas. You don’t need to be an expert photographer to participate, just an enthusiasm for where we live and the community we live in.

Through the Darvel Lottery we funded some computer training at the Town Hall to encourage people who currently can’t use social media and hope to keep widening our access to the Darvel community. Now that we established social media as a community tool, we need to keep developing it to ensure we have as wide and representative a base as possible to our local democracy.