Lockdown was the final push needed for one parish to launch its own website.

Up until recently Our Lady of Good Counsel and St Gregory the Great in Bearwood, near Birmingham, did not have an online presence.

But all that changed as the nation was faced with lockdown and isolation – resulting in a brand new parish website and a WhatsApp group!

Parishioner Paul Northam, who is also the Evangelisation Fieldworker for the Archdiocese, together with his brother John, realised the time had come for Catholic Bearwood to have a window to the world.

The idea was discussed amongst a few parishioners, with Paul and John getting the website up and running.

“Once lockdown was announced there was no way for people to be in touch with their parish, for the parish to have a voice, a presence,” said Paul.

“People like to stay local, even online, and there was no excuse not to have a website.

“It was essential for people to stay in touch and find out what’s going on in their parish.”

An existing prayer group on WhatsApp also paved the way for a wider, unofficial WhatsApp group, which is now used by around 30 parishioners and parish priest Fr Edwin Cownley.

“It’s an opportunity to share prayers, requests for help – for example shopping for others, foodbank information and generally keeping in touch,” said Paul.

“We are all discovering new ways of continuing our faith journey during this difficult time.”

Catholic Bearwood online

Given the increased use of parish websites and social media platforms to keep in touch at this time a document focused on Data Protection during the Coronavirus pandemic has been drawn up.