Local Southampton MP visits Bitterne church after major renovations
A Southampton MP and the Mayor of Southampton attended a Community Open Day at the newly renovated Holy Saviour Church in Bitterne. The new extension recently opened after extensive redevelopment which was funded by money left as a legacy by a late member of the local community and the generosity of the Holy Saviour congregation.
The first stage of the developments at Holy Saviour Church include the creation of new community facilities - a café space, large multi-use hall and meeting rooms. The redevelopment includes wheelchair accessible facilities, a lift and fully-equipped kitchen.
The church is launching a number of new initiatives within the new space to encourage people from the local community to reforge connections in light of the pandemic and help to tackle some of the big issues of social isolation and loneliness across generations. There is now a Hope Café running throughout the week for people to drop in, as well as many other groups such as a table tennis club, luncheon club, youth group, afterschool club and a baby and toddler group twice a week.
Reverend Tony Palmer, Vicar at Holy Saviour Church said: “How incredible it is to get to this point, to be able to see this new space open right at the heart of Bitterne, all thanks to the legacy of one of our dear congregation members. We at Holy Saviour hope to be a beacon of hope for the local community, providing much needed community space and resource to Bitterne and beyond.
“We have a whole host of exciting plans underway, including our youth games nights and Wednesday Omega Café for people to connect over tea and biscuits. We are so excited about how this space is going to be used by all in the local community and our hope is that all people will find a place of welcome, hope and love here at Holy Saviour.”
The redevelopment was due in part to the generous legacy left by John Shepard, who sadly passed away in 2018. John lived in his Bitterne home since he was born in 1924 and was educated at Holy Saviour Church School. He attended Holy Saviour from youth and was actively involved in church affairs. He eventually enjoyed pastoral care with home communion at his house due to illness.
Royston Smith, MP for Southampton, Itchen said: “It is great to see a church at the centre of our community reopen its doors. The new hall is the perfect space for people across Bitterne and Southampton to use and connect with each other. This redevelopment is a testament to the generosity of the people of Southampton and I would like to thank John Shepard and his family for making this happen.”
The Right Reverend Debbie Sellin, Bishop of Southampton, said: “There is such a true sense of community at the heart of this redevelopment, and it is a joy to see the church welcome people in again. The team at Holy Saviour Church have such exciting things planned and I am looking forward to seeing people from across Southampton come together and join in friendship in such a beautiful space.”
Councillor Alex Houghton, Mayor of Southampton, said: “Thank you to Holy Saviour Church, Bitterne, for inviting me to their community day to celebrate the opening of their new building. This fantastic new space provides the church with great facilities to enhance the role it plays as a community hub. The Bitterne area has for a number of years not been particularly well served with community buildings and also has many people living in social isolation. The church has a really important role to play in bringing the local community together and there’s no better way of doing that than with a cuppa and cake! I’m certain this new space will prove very popular and I am grateful to the church for inviting me along to celebrate with them.”
While the building was under development, the congregation met at nearby Bitterne Church of England Primary School.