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Phone Co-op broadband helps St Mary’s realise its 2026 vision

St Mary Magdelene, the parish church of Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, dates back to the 12th century but is wholeheartedly embracing 21st century technology to provide a vital resource to its parishioners and local community.

St Mary’s is part of the Blackburn Diocese, and an enthusiastic participant in its ‘Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’ initiative, in celebration of the Diocesan centenary.

The Church has a thriving community programme, notably as host for ‘Techie Heaven’, a computer group for local 11-16 year olds. Techie Heaven helps the youngsters learn how to dismantle, repair and rebuild computers, learn coding and web design, and provides valuable guidance on issues such as online safety.

The group was the driving force behind the Church’s recent installation of broadband facilities from The Phone Co-op, as PCC member and Vision 2026 Champion Linda Ainsworth explains.

“Techie Heaven has been going for about five years under the leadership of Anna Morris, and obviously a good internet connection is pretty important to the group,” she said.

In a bid to recruit more members, the group is running a ‘QR Treasure Hunt’ this summer. Participants will be able to use QR codes – barcodes which can be scanned by a mobile phone app to reveal online information – to follow the clues round the area, with codes containing clues being posted up on the windows of local businesses. 

Anna knew of The Phone Co-op and recommended us to the Church, and Linda and her colleagues on the PCC quickly saw the wider benefits for St Mary’s. 

“We used to spend a fortune printing off service sheets, especially at services like Christingle where upwards of 300 people attend,” she said.

“Now we can make service sheets available to people via our website beforehand so they can print them out themselves, or bring their tablets to services and read them on there. Viewing the sheets electronically is particularly useful to members with impaired vision, who can easily increase the size of the words on their tablets.”

The Phone Co-op was the ideal choice of provider. As well as having a community ethos which reflects the values of the church and other similar organisations, we can also offer excellent deals for smaller numbers of users.

“Some of the bigger providers couldn’t offer a business contract with a starting point of only 100 users,” said Linda. “The Phone Co-op is geared towards the needs of smaller organisations.”

Despite first having to set up a postal address – which many community and rural buildings don’t have – the broadband service is now working well. 

“It’s made a huge difference,” said Linda. “We’re all getting used to using our tablets and phones more in PCC meetings, and it’s really saving us time and money.”