After nearly a year of running surgeries Nick Booth wrote this blog post about his experience running surgeries in Birmingham. He did it in the form a recipe. He combined that recipe with other experience to create this site. One key aim was to take away the tedious stuff around organising surgeries.

So these are the ingredients in that (slightly tongue in cheek but useful) recipe:

A diary

This should be full of dates and used to avoid clashes with other events. This site helps you avoid clashing with other surgeries near you.

Lists of people

  1. A list of people who care about where they live and get things done (some people call them active citizens). These are your patients.
  2. A smaller list of organisations that can also help you reach such people, like your local Voluntary Services Council.
  3. You need a list of people who care about where they live, get things done and know about the internet. These are your surgeons.

As you get better at this recipe you will find that people who first appeared on the patients list will move across to the surgeons list. That's exactly the result you're looking for. In fact, those people are the sweetest part of the whole confection.

A room

This is the standard size social media surgery so you just need a standard sized room. Most rooms come with corridors, please don't discard these. We have found them very handy as marvellous overspill spaces. We have used cafes, pubs as well as more formal meeting spaces. It's best to avoid paying for the room. Some places are happy for the extra custom.

Tables and chairs

Some people like their tables and chairs in neat rows. I prefer them just how they come. So scatter these around.

Tea & coffee

Let people help themselves. Or, if a cafe is lending you their space, then please encourage people to buy a drink to say thank you.


Never skimp on this. A good social media surgery will be drenched in Wi-Fi. If you find yourself tempted to skimp on a good internet connection the whole thing will certainly turn out flat. Some types of Wi-Fi come with a key. If you have a key, make sure everyone can easily find it.

Organiser (1 or more)

You must have at least one of these so dates get set, rooms get found, Wi-Fi is checked, this site is updated, emails sent out and so on.

Welcomer (1)

I now call these Surgery Managers. We found it difficult to run a busy surgery if you're also being a surgeon, so separate the roles if you can. The welcomer also introduces the patient to their surgeon, checks they're signed up on this site and keeps track of what happens. Using this site they can also easily record who helped who with what and note new sites created.

Social capital

This is the most important ingredient. In Birmingham we started with Birmingham Bloggers Group social capital, which had been simmering for a good 20 months, thickened by all sorts of strange ingredients. Think of social capital as the stock pot of your social media kitchen – you need to keep it bubbling constantly.

By the way, it has to be home made and hand made. In an emergency you can borrow some social capital from your neighbour, but please take care to return it as soon as you can. Some people are tempted to use shop bought social capital. It never works.

Note: Some of you may be surprised to see that I have not included expectations in this recipe. I hold zero expectations when making a surgery. Anything more than that can sour things.