WINCHESTER Diocese is spending £3m on missionary work in Hampshire and Dorset.

The diocese has been awarded the grant by the Church of England as part of a national £24 million package to help spread the Christian message and mission in urban and deprived areas.

To benefit will be three projects: St Winfrid’s Totton; Southampton City Centre and St Michael’s Bournemouth.

The grants will be used to revamp churches, provide evangelism to younger people, and to create new congregations.

The projects will emphasise social engagement in areas such as support for children and young families, early intervention to counter homelessness, addiction, social isolation and mental health problems, and cultural renewal through arts and music.

The awards have been announced as many areas of the country - particularly its most deprived communities – cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin, said: “The whole country has been severely affected by the pandemic, and we have all had to make difficult adjustments - but there is no doubt that it is our most deprived areas that have been hit the hardest. These projects across Hampshire and Dorset will give us the opportunity to deliver our mission to those most in need as our communities begin to heal and rebuild.”

The grants have been awarded as part of the Church’s programme of Renewal and Reform, aimed at ensuring that the Church of England once more becomes a growing church for all people in all areas of the country.

Debbie Clinton, director of renewal and reform for the Church of England, said: “The range of work outlined in these projects is a measure of the Church of England’s commitment to all areas of the country – including some of the most deprived urban communities. Our churches are sharing the love of Jesus Christ and bringing the good news of the gospel through spiritual and pastoral support to people as well as practical action.”