CHURCH leaders hope to bring together the community in Boscombe by renewing services full time.

St Clement's Church, based at St Clement's Road, is set to follow in the footsteps of its sister church at St Swithun's in order to reach members of the community and build upon its congregation.

Founded in the 1870s, St Clement's is a grade I listed building - the tower of which has watched over its neighbours for more than a century.

Attendance numbers have dropped rapidly in recent years but it is hoped that a new partnership between the two churches will see the community of St Clement's revitalised.

One aspect of the planned 'relaunch' is to reach those who might not otherwise have any contact with the church. With many in the area living in poverty, a considerable problem for the area is substance abuse, something the church leader Revd Tim Matthews wishes to tackle.

It follows from the recovery course held at St Swithun's which helps people struggling with addiction. The programme was started in February 2015 and has helped over 450 people from the area.

Revd Matthews said: “Boscombe has a challenging reputation but I’m full of hope for its future. We are simply joining in the great work already being done by many other churches and agencies in the area. The faith and courage shown by the existing congregation of St Clement’s to embrace change and reach out to the local community is inspiring.”

The team also intend to strengthen the relationship between St Clement’s and nearby schools. A group from St Swithun’s already runs a parenting class at Bethany Junior School at Knole Road and is looking to increase the support on offer to parents and activities for children as the church’s presence grows.

“We love the Boscombe area as it buzzes with all walks of life," Revd Matthews added. "St Clement’s is a natural gathering point and can be a beacon of community, hope and life. Through new services in contemporary styles, Alpha and midweek ministries that meet specific local needs, we can share our faith. Many people in Boscombe have stopped going to church, but they haven’t rejected Jesus. Quite the opposite. I’m absolutely convinced that they need and deep down want him in their lives. We all do. God is love, truth and life. Who doesn’t want that?”

The Rt Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, said: “Tim and his team have led some remarkable developments at St Swithun’s, and it’s a blessing that they will now have the opportunity to share their vision and ministry at St Clement’s. I am excited about how Tim’s team will serve Boscombe, offering to the local community an opportunity to experience the transforming love of Jesus Christ in a new and compelling way.”