People longing for home computers and access to the Internet will have their prayers answered at St Matthew’s Church in Sutton Bridge.
Vicar the Rev David Oxtoby, a former IT professional, has just built a computer that anyone can use free, any time the church is open, and installed broadband with free Wi-Fi access.
It’s quite a rare thing to have the Internet and free Wi-Fi at a Church of England church – this is not the first within the diocese but there are not many.The Rev David Oxtoby
He’s also set to launch an Internet cafe in the church, which is likely to run from 5pm-7pm on Wednesdays and when the foodbank opens from 1pm-3pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The Internet cafe will have up to ten laptops available for people to use and, again, it’s free.
Users will only be charged for printing and the cups of tea and coffee they drink while surfing.
Mr Oxtoby said: “These are the kind of initiatives that I want to be of benefit and a blessing to the community.
“It’s quite a rare thing to have the Internet and free Wi-Fi at a Church of England church – this is not the first within the diocese but there are not many.
“I guess I have the right skills to make it happen.”
The idea sprang in part from the dawn of Universal Tax Credit because claimants must have access to a computer and Mr Oxtoby realised that not everyone can afford to go online.
He says the computer and laptops will also help families where there’s more than one child and they are having to share a single family computer to do their homework.
The church opens daily and Mr Oxtoby realises an open-access computer inside St Matthew’s could be a temptation.
But he says: “We have CCTV in the church anyway. If someone does come in and walk off with the computer, we have got them on CCTV.
“If it’s taken, it’s taken – all that means is they have spoiled the facility for the rest of the community.”
The computer will be available for people to use from this week and it’s likely the Internet cafe will launch around the end of the month.
Mr Oxtoby’s life revolved around computers from his mid-teens to his early 30s.
He has a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and an extensive background working as an IT professional.
Mr Oxtoby is happy for Internet cafe users to go there to learn new skills and would be delighted to hear from volunteers who might want to get involved in computer classes for older people or perhaps help out at after-school computer programming clubs.
• Anyone who wants to volunteer can contact Mr Oxtoby on 01406 258572.