A village hall at the centre of a community
by Charlotte Absolom
Fontmell Magna Village Hall is a registered charity and was established for charitable purposes in August 1962, for the benefit of the local community. The Village Hall Management Committee runs and maintains the hall from the income derived from hiring it out to various user groups, individuals, associations and societies for a wide range of events including community, educational and fitness activities.
Previously the hall had no internet connection, and the mobile signal was extremely patchy. It hindered the charity in many ways as they were unable to guarantee a phone signal in an emergency, hirers were unable to use contactless payment systems and they were unable to offer any access to the internet for browsing or live streaming - unless they had access to their own 4G dongle.
Whilst most hirers were understanding, the internet is becoming increasingly important and is more of a requirement than a luxury within today’s society. An internet connection is a necessity, even for a children’s party, as video streaming and internet based games become increasingly popular.
It was clear to the Committee that not having an internet connection was limiting the number of businesses, functions and hirers they could attract, which is where Wessex Internet stepped in.
The Solution and Process
The Village Hall found it hard to justify the cost of installing broadband as the prices quoted by previous internet providers were not cost effective. The RGC (Rural Gigabit Connectivity) scheme allowed them to have quality, high speed fibre broadband installed for free, with a monthly service, at a price they could afford.
Wessex Internet handled the whole process and applied for their RGC Voucher in May and after negotiations with landowners, the fibre was brought into the Village Hall in October, from the main network built in Bedchester. The committee was kept up to date and customer service levels were high throughout.
Now the Village Hall has Wessex Internet installed they’re able to offer a lot more options for people hiring the hall, which has been especially useful during the pandemic as they’re still able to earn some income through different sources.
The hall is also being offered as a quiet workspace hub for local residents with free WiFi access to hire by the hour, session or day. This is great for members of the community who are struggling to work from home or home school during this difficult time.
Regular Trustee meetings are also held at the hall, the fibre connection allows them to check information and bookings quickly and efficiently; making the meetings much more professional.
“We are so glad to have installed Wessex Full Fibre to the hall, this now future proofs us to be able to serve our community.” Rosie-Anne Yates, Chairman, Fontmell Magna Village Hall.
Comments from regular user groups
“Once we are back with film nights, it will be good to know we can check any film details or answer questions by checking online if the need arises.” Moviola
“I live stream Zumba classes from the hall. The Covid safe distance rules for indoor exercise means I can only have 9 people maximum in the class at the hall, but I can have as many as 99 joining in via Zoom from the comfort of their own homes. This combination of “in person” and live streaming has been working very well this Autumn. It also keeps people connected to the Village Hall, so they won’t be lost to other venues once some sort of normality returns. For a “one-man band” Zoom-ba has improved my business, it has brought people from different villages and those in other parts of the country together. We all enjoy dancing from home, having somewhere to be and people to catch up with once, twice or even 3 times a week. The obvious challenge was figuring out how to get the technology working to get the best experience as possible. And even getting the older generation to give it a try.” Abby Down – Zumba Instructor
“We are looking forward to being able to use the internet as part of our workshops, which will allow speakers to live stream their presentations, and for volunteers on the cut flower project to be able to check information online.” Cut Flower Project
“The provision of Broadband although not necessary for all the activities, was welcomed as Fontmell Magna is notorious for having very poor mobile coverage and it is reassuring for that we can use the WiFi to get a mobile phone signal at the hall” Pop-up Play Village
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