A CHURCH group on Bournemouth is aiming to help redevelop its parish and become “a powerhouse for evangelisation” in the town with the construction of a new £3million hub for the community.

Bournemouth Oratory, located in the Scared Hearts Church in the heart of Bournemouth, aim to completely redevelop the extensive but dilapidated halls and subterranean areas of the church to create a welcome centre, café and large communal spaces.

However, with both their funding and construction plans affected by the ongoing pandemic, the church group are looking for donations from community groups and members of the parish.

Oratorian Father Andrew Wagstaff said: “The coronavirus, like to many others, has affected us and has set back our plans quite considerable.

“We have not been able to start work because of coronavirus and, right now, we don’t know when we can start.

“We want to expand our hall space to allow for larger meetings, but we have to raise three million pounds to do this project.”

The aim of the development plans at Bournemouth Oratory are to not only increased the capacity of the building for churchgoers but to also provide a communal space for community groups and charities to use to provide help for local residents.

Ft. Wagstaff added: “We used to host group like narcotics anonymous and alcoholics anonymous and we want to include them in our future plans and help support more people with our improved facilities and increased space.

“We want to reach out to other charities and community groups who are interested in providing guidance and sessions on action poverty relief.

“We have noticed that a lot of people within our community who need help with things, for example who disabled people can claim benefits and offer counselling advice. We would like to work with the charities to offer this to our community.”

Bournemouth Oratory, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, are looking to create a welcome centre with a café or small eatery and shop front parish office for both members of the community and the congregation to use.

The Oratory Redevelopment Appeal has been set up on the church’s website, where people can choose to donate in a number of different ways, including through the Oratory’s “One in a Thousand” scheme and adding Gift Aid to their donation.

“The new plans will not only benefit the parish and those in our congregation, but it will also benefit the wider community and those who are struggling and are in need of support,” said Oratorian Father Andrew Wagstaff.

He added: “Our mission is to use our location in the heart of the town to reach out to people and help provide support for those that need it.

“We are not an exclusive group, we do not face inwards, we face outwards and help others.”