Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

Oratory Redevlopment Appeal

The Oratory Redevelopment Appeal is our project to raise money for the redevelopment of our extensive but  dilapidated halls and subterranean areas into a welcome centre for Catholic Formation and Catechetics for the New Evangeization and a hub for the community.

To help understand the strategy behind our ambitious but necessary plans we have attempted to answer your questions through a series of Frequently Asked Questions. Use the + sign alongside the question to reveal the answer.

Your Questions Answered >>

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Instead of spending £2m redeveloping the halls why can’t we just install a new kitchen and toilets and redecorate the halls? It would cost a lot less

Yes, it would cost a lot less, but we would not gain much as a result. The halls would be a nicer environment to visit and spend time in but they wouldn’t contribute anything more to the Parish than they currently contribute. So you could say that although less money would be spent, it would have been spent unnecessarily or just to provide “a better experience”.

So what more will we get by spending £2m on the halls rather than, say, £300k smartening them up and replacing the toilets and kitchen?
So much more:
The redeveloped halls will be fully accessible. It will be possible to enter the halls and move around them without negotiating steps. This is important as currently our halls are inaccessible for people with serious mobility issues. The new platform lift is a move in the right direction, but there are still steps to negotiate to get from the lift into the halls.

The restaurant and the meeting rooms will bring non-parishioners into our building, which may spark an interest in some to find out more about the Sacred Heart and our faith. So the restaurant and meeting rooms could be the starting point for some people’s road to evangelisation.

The restaurant will be operated commercially by a third party under their own brand. We will ensure, through our choice of tenant and by the terms of the lease, that the ethos and values of the restaurant will match ours. The opening hours will be early morning to early evening, six days a week. The Parish will grant a lease of the restaurant premises and, crucially, will receive a market rent. This rent will contribute towards the financial stability of the Parish, making it less reliant on Parishioner donations, which are volatile. We anticipate that the restaurant will employ at least one person with special needs.

The meeting rooms will be hired out to local businesses during the week and will be another important source of income for the Parish, further contributing towards its financial stability by reducing reliance on Parishioner donations.

The meeting rooms will also be available to hire out for events in the Church, such as weddings, funerals and christenings, creating yet another income stream for the Parish and bringing more people into the Church. The catering for these events can be provided by the restaurant, which will be good for their business too.

The design of the redeveloped halls will accommodate more than one event at a time during the evenings, thereby enabling a greater number of Parish activities. They will also be well equipped, facilitating more “high tech” activities.

The designs for the redeveloped halls provide for the relocation of the Church shop and the Parish office to prominent and easily accessible positions. The Church shop will have longer opening hours (subject to the availability of volunteers to man it). The revenue from the Church shop is likely to grow, which in turn contributes to the Parish income and financial stability.

So if the halls are going to cost £2m to redevelop, why do we have to raise £3m?
Because the only way in which the Parish can succeed in its ambition, and Bishop Philip’s vision, to be a powerhouse for evangelisation in Bournemouth and the surrounding area is by having a permanent community of clergy. The arrival of our Oratorian Community at the end of May 2017 was the catalyst for the transformation of our Parish from being just another Parish in slow decline to becoming a dynamic and growing Parish.

We are all witness to the many improvements that have been made to our spiritual and Parish lives since May 2017, and this is against the backdrop of being evacuated from their house with a morning’s notice and the months of anxiety and uncertainty that followed, not to mention the loss of their community life pending their return to the house.

In short, The Oratory House is fundamental to the existence of the Bournemouth Oratory. Without the house there can be no Oratory and the ambition of this Parish becoming a powerhouse for evangelisation in Bournemouth and the surrounding area will remain just that, an ambition.

Unfortunately it has cost £1m to completely refurbish the house to make it fit for habitation. This was unavoidable and is because all of the plumbing, electrical wiring and mechanical services have had to be stripped out and replaced, making the house fit for purpose for many years to come. The grade 2 listing has also meant that some of the work has cost more than it otherwise would.

As the Church and the house belong to the Diocese, why doesn’t the Diocese pay for it, or at least for the house?
Good question and one we have argued at length with the Diocese in respect of the cost of the house redevelopment. Unfortunately that is not how the Diocesan finances work! The Diocese is funded by the Parishes within the Diocese. Each Parish has to pay its own way and maintain and pay for the upkeep of its land and buildings. The Diocese may assist with cashflow, but ultimately the funding burden falls on the Parish.
Will the refurbished halls continue to be used for community focused and outreach services or will their only use be as a source of income?

The two main meeting rooms within the new complex will be available for commercial hire during working hours on week days. They will be available to the Parish and other community based groups during the evenings and weekends and also during those periods when they are not booked out for hire. Certain times during the week will be reserved for Parish activities, as required.

As well as the two larger rooms available for hire, there will be a smaller room that will be made available (free of charge) for community-focused charities to deliver their services. For example, clinics providing advice on:

  • housing – helping people facing eviction;
  • the benefits people are entitled to – for example helping people to navigate their
    way around Universal Credit;
  • immigration
  • mental health.

The halls are already used by groups such as alcoholics anonymous and narcotics
anonymous and this will continue.
This use of the halls will help to keep people from falling into debt and homelessness. It is also creates more opportunities for some people to being their journey towards evangelisation.

As well as outreach, the redeveloped halls also be available for other activities such as:

  • as a day time meeting place for the elderly and lonely, hosting regular afternoon tea parties with entertainment;
  • an evening centre that people living in the town centre (mostly in bedsits and very small accommodation) can use for socialising and entertainment (an alternative to the pubs, clubs and bars that proliferate in Bournemouth’s town centre);
  • lunch time and evening talks on topics of interest.

There will be opportunities for people to work within the redeveloped halls on a voluntary

When will the redevelopment of the halls start and how long will it take?
Work on the detailed plans and applying for the necessary consents is already underway, but there is a lot of work still to be done before the work on the halls can begin. No work can begin until the Diocesan Trustees have given their approval. They won’t give their approval until the detailed plans have been approved and fully costed. Even then, they will require evidence of a successful fundraising campaign within the Parish before giving their approval. It is unlikely, therefore, that work on the halls will be able to begin until late 2020 at the earliest.
£3m is a huge sum, can we possibly raise it?

We recognise that the sums involved cannot be raised from Parishioners alone and we are asking for donations from the wider Catholic community and from all those locally and further afield who value the work of the Parish and the Oratory in our community.We will also apply for grants, but grant funders invariably want to see their grants matched by fundraising donations.

Although the fundraising campaign has only just been launched, there have been references to it over the last few months and it has, in fact, been running at a low level since last summer when you may recall the raffle that was held. Last September we held the first of our “almost monthly” concerts and there have been other fund raising events already, such as our Bingo, Fish and Chip evening on 19 July and our monthly “Movie Nights”. We did also receive two large donations at the beginning of the year and our 12.15 Mass collections have all added to the fund. All in all we have so far raised around £270,000 (which includes gift aid recovered of about £55,000) before even formally launching the campaign! We believe that these early results demonstrate that, together, we – the Parish – which means you – really can do this.

You may have read or heard about our “One in a Thousand” fund raising initiative. The “One in a Thousand” concept is designed to provide some structure and focus to individual donations and to demonstrate the achievability of the goal. Very simply:

    • if a thousand people each donate £1,000, we will have raised £1m (£1.25m including gift aid). If they each donate £1,000 a year for 3 years we will have raised £3m.
    • If two hundred people each donate £1,000 a year and each find another 4 people to each donate £1,000 a year, we have eight hundred people each donating £1,000 a year = £2,400,000 over three years.

To put it in context, a £1,000 a year is £2.74 per day.

There can be many variations on this theme, and we would encourage those people who can donate more than £1,000 to do so, to make up for the many for whom £100, let alone £1,000, is an impossibility.

Donations can be made as single payments, or by monthly standing order of £84 per month for 36 months. If you are a tax payer your donation can be gift aided, which means that we can reclaim the tax that you have already paid on your £1,000, thereby increasing your contribution by £250 at no further cost to you. If you are a higher rate tax payer your donation of £1,000 will cost you £750 as you will receive a tax refund of £250. If you are an additional rate tax payer your donation will cost you even less.

Can you suggest ways in which I can raise money to donate?

Yes, there are a number of things that you could consider. For example:

  • do you have unwanted items that can be sold on Ebay to raise money? If so, but you’re not sure how to go about selling on Ebay then we can assist you with this. All you need to do is complete the form that you will find [at the back of the Church] and bring the item to the Parish Office;
  • the Parish has registered with an online fundraising platform called Give as you Live. All online donations are made through this platform which also offers a range of ways of raising funds for our appeal at no cost to you. To set up your own fundraing page for a specific event or challenge please visit :
  • organise and participate in sponsored events/activities.
What if I don’t have any spare money that I can donate? What part can I play?
If you’re one of the many who simply don’t have any spare money available to donate, you can contribute in many other ways by supporting our fund raising events, attending our concerts and Movie Nights and all the other events that will be taking place. We need willing volunteers to help out with organising these events to enable them to take place – please be one of them.
And finally ...
This redevelopment project is vital for the future of the Parish and the Oratory. This fund raising campaign presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for every Parishioner who wants the Oratory in Bournemouth to become permanent and for this Parish to survive into the future and thrive, to have a stake in making that happen. But it can only succeed if you are part of it. Please think very carefully about what is possible for you to donate. If it is possible for you to sign-up to be a “One in a Thousand” then please do so, even if this means making some temporary lifestyle sacrifices along the way.

It is fatal to take the approach that your donation is insignificant in light of what needs to be raised and therefore you needn’t bother because if that is what you are thinking, it is probably what your neighbour is thinking too!

If you would love to be a “One in a Thousand” but £3,000 over three years (£84 a month or £2.74 per day) is just not possible for you, please sign-up for whatever lesser amount you can afford and if you are unable to donate, then please support the campaign with your time and talent.

We need you, please join us on this once in a lifetime Parish journey!