Sutton Bridge vicar puts his church online

The Rev David Oxtoby with the free public access computer he's built for visitors to St Matthew's. SG140415-165TW
The Rev David Oxtoby with the free public access computer he's built for visitors to St Matthew's. SG140415-165TW

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.

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 village’s Foodbank opens from 1pm-3pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The internet cafe will have up to 10 laptops available for people to use and is free. Users will only be charged for printing and the cuppas 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.

The church opens daily and Mr Oxtoby realises an open-access computer 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.”

He has a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and an extensive background working as an IT professional.