B4SH APRIL 2020 UPDATE

From wind and rain to glorious sunshine, and Covid-19

What a difference a month has made.  The weather wasn’t kind to us over recent weeks with endless rain, making the ground soggy and in places too difficult to work.  And then the sun came out… along with the world closing up and retreating to their homes.  Putting in a broadband network can’t be done on a Zoom call or at our desks, so a very small team have continued to work on extending our network and connecting more properties.

What can you do?

Now more than ever, everyone is appreciating a fast broadband network, which is just what we can offer (our service is £45/month for a 1000Mb hyperfast fibre to your door), but we need your help.

Several of our regular volunteers are self-isolating, so we need more volunteers to come forward. We are currently out every day in Woodhill Lane/Stroud Lane/Madgehole Lane area of Shamley Green. If you live in any of these areas, you can help bring the network to your home.

You could describe some of the work as “heavy gardening”, but there are a variety of jobs you could get involved in – pulling out duct from a reel; feeding duct into our moleplough; installing chambers; road cutting. You’ll learn new skills, get a bit of fresh air and exercise, and bring the network ever closer to you.

We are also now at a point where we really need some help in the office. We have applied to the Government for the Gigabit Voucher Scheme so there will be a need for someone/people to help with its administration.

Invoicing and accounts is another area where we would really appreciate help.

If you’re home and would like to help our volunteer-led community benefit society, please get in touch. We would be delighted to hear from you.

Covid-19 Rules of Working

Our rules regarding working under Covid-19 restrictions are published and we are careful to follow Government guidelines as they change. 

Contact the office 07437 165949 to find out where we are working and we can provide a Key Worker letter to verify that you are a member of the B4SH volunteer team.

Update on progress

By way of an update on progress over the last quarter, they say a picture speaks a thousand words, here are more shots of our volunteers in action earlier in March, whilst following Government guidelines on working at safe distances, not sharing tools and working in small teams.

We have an amazing technical team who have developed creative methods to connect routers whilst minimising/avoiding contact with householders.

Properties have been connected around Shamley Wood Estate/Sandhurst Hill and Queens Lace areas; a huge help for residents, at a time when many networks are struggling to meet demand.

We have completed a road crossing at Woodhill Lane giving access to properties in Queens Lace area with duct continuing to be installed southwards.  If you live in this area, please get in touch as your involvement will help us extend the service.

Two other road crossings are in progress with SCC across Woodhill Lane to give access to properties east and west of Stroud Lane.

Route planning on-going to agree chamber locations and we are still meeting residents to confirm routing etc.

We have purchased more IT equipment for our cabinets to further monitor our network.

We continue to make progress with the Gigabit Voucher Scheme process which will really help B4SH. Pretty much all our postcodes can be defined as “rural” and we can claim for anywhere where existing services cannot deliver >100Mb, which isn’t difficult!  It’s a bureaucratic Government scheme, so is taking a while to complete, but we have an expert who is guiding us and we are making good progress.

Outside of our current area of activity? What can you do?

If you’re outside the Shamley Green area and would like us to extend service to you, the most successful way to bring B4SH service to you is to talk to your neighbours and gather interest.  As a small team, we need people in their community to be a point of contact (a champion), to gather contact details, levels of interest and how many residents can help with the installation.  We can’t do it without your help. Hopefully, in these times of community being so important, you may have met more neighbours and be able to share information more easily. 

In normal times we would schedule a meeting and address everyone, give a fund raising target and a goal for the number of subscribers (based on a percentage of the number of homes that are in that area).  We may need to be a bit more creative in how we do this over the next few months, but when you have gathered a group of neighbours who are interested, do get in touch and we’ll work with you.

We are working on new marketing literature so anyone who would like to have a leaflet to help them when talking to their neighbours, please let us know and we’ll send something out to you. If you can put up a poster in your local village hall, school, Post Office or shop, please get in touch.  You could print this update and pin it up (pdf version available through the office enquiries@b4sh.org.uk).

Thank you for your support

We are very grateful to those in the community who relay information to us regarding road closures, development works, potentially interested investors and anyone who has shown an interest. Your spreading the word about B4SH is how we get our message out there, thank you.   We are also continually grateful to landowners for the free wayleaves and access they give for us to install.

We have had investment from Shere Parish Council who are keen to support our endeavours to take service to the more rural parts of their parish, namely Peaslake and Holmbury St Mary, though Shere itself is also interested and a working party has started there.

In the office we have been working with a new accounting package with the help of one of our fabulous volunteers, Mike.  We’re also going to be reviewing the website.

If you’re interested to know more, call the office and we’d be happy to tell you more about the network. And if you’re just curious to see what we’re doing, call the office and we can meet you on site to show you in person.

Stay safe.  All the best from the B4SH team.

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