Prior to starting this Website I looked on the Internet for Discussion Forums open to the General Public that were Region- specific rather than subject- specific. I would find things like Cumbria Share – a website for businesses to get together and share their ideas (see here: https://cumbriashare.co.uk/forums), or Cumbria Forum, part of the Cumbria Growth Hub (see here: https://cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk/business-support/improving-your-business/cumbria-forum) and- at a Regional level- The North West People in Research Forum (see here: https://www.invo.org.uk/communities/invodirect-org/north-west-people-in-research-forum/). In fact, the more I looked I discovered all the Region or county- specific Discussion Forums were only for people who were bona-fide business-owners, researchers, doctors, professor or anybody who specialised in a particular “ism” or “ology”! To be admitted to any of these Regional Forums you have to demonstrate that you are a Professor, a Doctor, Council worker, Researcher, or whichever the case may be!
There does not seem to be a Region or County-specific Discussion Forum that is open to any member of the Public who wishes to join- and to discuss whatever is on their minds provided they are not threatening or abusive. This does of course limit the ability of people (especially those without money or status) to share their views and ideas of how to make their area (and their lives) better. This does of course mean that issues like poor or largely- irrelevant Regional News or Programmes cannot be articulated. Other people will have other concerns like anti-social behaviour, the lack of a Police presence, Domestic child abuse, the lack of work, jobs and opportunities in their area….whatever folk wish to discuss. Maybe some-one has some helpful tips on working from home and improving one’s income that they would like to share on a Public Forum for a particular area with high levels of deprivation. But without a local or Region- specific Forum open to all this might not be possible.
Of course, in these days of social media people can share stuff on Facebook- but there are limitations. If one wants to share stuff in their community amongst people who may not be on Facebook or Twitter- and they want to engage with people in an area about a subject that is area- specific (i.e. Regional News coverage in Cumbria will not be of much interest to folk living in London, or even Manchester)- there is not really a county or Region- specific Forum in which they could do this. Some of people’s problems are defined by geographical facts – like distances to the cities and the absence of cheap regular Public transport to them: Surely folk with those problems (and/ or solutions to them) ought to have a Forum to discuss these freely with others who live nearby and who (thus) have similar issues.
It’s hard to share ideas and get feedback in the absence of county or Region-specific Public Discussion Forums open to all- not just professionals or those with titles after their names. This is something that I will, myself, be rectifying from today.