Over the years, St Silas Church has seen many initiatives to modernise it, with the installation of central heating, kitchen, toilets, modern lighting and the creation of an open community space at the back of the church, over twenty years ago, all of which presented challenges at the time.
The latest challenge has been to install Wi-Fi in the Church.
The church has always aspired to be a community hub where local groups can meet and local community agencies provide support to their users, as well as providing spiritual and pastoral support to the care homes and individuals who are house-bound in the area.
Like many churches St Silas has tried to make the most of using online technology during the pandemic but the lack of Wi-Fi within the Church was a big limitation.
6G Internet are a local Internet Service Provider. Over the last year or so they have been working with schools and charities in the area to set up free home connections for families struggling to get online. Through one of those charities, Age UK, 6G Internet were introduced to Sheelagh Aston, the Priest in charge, at St Silas Church.
Over the summer, the Church leadership team, along with Jill Cowgill of architects NWDC, worked hard to overcome the challenges inherent when working in a Grade II listed building and, in October the installation was successfully completed.
Both installation and ongoing usage has been provided entirely free of charge by 6G Internet as part of their “internet for everyone” initiative.
Sheelagh is excited by the new opportunities that online connectivity opens up “We will be able to live stream our Sunday Service to create an inclusive bond between those who are in church and those at home thus breaking down the feelings of loneliness and IT group is already experimenting with online training sessions which could be broadcast from church to remote participants”
There is a strong bond between the Church and local schools and Sheelagh added, “We are now working with our schools to explore how short virtual tours or lessons can be streamed to them at a time when visits are difficult.”
Ian Clough who leads the 6G Internet digital inclusion projects said, “the work with St Silas is a new strand of our “internet for everyone” initiative. For over a year now we have worked with schools and charities, aiming to make sure that everyone in Blackburn and Darwen has access to a free basic internet connection at home. The new opportunities created by connecting community buildings like St Silas are really exciting and I believe that their hard work has created a template that others can follow.”
Rev Sheelagh Aston
Priest in Charge
Healthy Churches, Transforming Communities
Diocese of Blackburn