Comment: Blogging is a force to be reckoned with

The rapid growth of social media - blogs, Facebook, YouTube - is having a real impact on the sector.

Following my recent column recognising the work voluntary sector organisations do to support women, I was astonished - maybe even a little flattered - to be emailed by the chief executive of the Women's Resource Centre and told that I had appeared in its blog under the rather grand title of 'Knight in Shining Armour'.

My column focused on women fleeing persecution abroad and seeking safe haven here. Their plight appears all the more urgent after the publication last week of the Independent Asylum Commission's interim report on how we as a nation treat asylum seekers. The verdict was discomfiting.

Earlier this month I wrote a post on Guardian Unlimited's Comment is Free page, where I set out the case for a government strategy to address the scandal of disabled people's enduring poverty. The response was extraordinary - I couldn't keep up with the readers' comments. The general tenor was supportive, but a worrying number of responses were quite hostile - fuelled, I suspect, by the anonymity bestowed by the outlandish nomenclature chosen by some of them.

As a campaigning organisation, Leonard Cheshire Disability is using online communications more and more. We have a Facebook group that we use to tell members about campaign updates, we have an email network of campaigners and we invest in advertising on popular political blogs and other websites. The way it connects us to new audiences is invaluable.

So blogging is here to stay in the sector and, on balance, I see it as a potent new way of both getting our messages out and giving beneficiaries a collective voice.

The downside is that erstwhile Third Sector columnist Stephen Bubb has launched his own 'Bubb's Blog' on the Acevo website. Do we really need to know about him acquiring a dog or visiting Downing Street on his day off? It comes dangerously close to self-parody.

- John Knight is head of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability: jk.thirdsector@googlemail.com

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