What/who we are: The current ministry at St Saviour's Church in Guildford was set up some 10+ years ago. It started with a few children from within the church family whose needs were not provided for within the mainstream groups, to the current day when we have 3 dedicated groups for children with additional needs on a Sunday with some 35-40 children most weeks. We have run a number of holiday clubs in the summer holidays and this year ran a family festival; we have a thriving group for parents who meet in the week for fellowship and bible study; and we run a number of one-off events, such as Christmas lunch for parents, and Christmas parties for the children.
We firmly believe that this is God's work. God has been faithful and good in always providing a great team of workers who love and support the children - and who have themselves experienced His love and equipping through their involvement... and so often we receive more than we give. This is what one of our young helpers thinks:
However, we started small and have learned much over the course of the years. We hope that by sharing our resources and experiences that we can encourage and assist you in stepping out and making your church inclusive to these children and their families too.
Why: Almost 20% of children in the UK have an additional need & 90% of families who have a child with an additional need find themselves outside the church - often because the church is not accessible or inclusive. So often these children and their families have experienced rejection and exclusion elsewhere too. However, we believe that all belong to God and that we all have a vital part to play in building His church... & as is so often the case, the church and those who serve in the ministry are immeasurably blessed by the children and their families.
What we are not: Whilst we have accumulated a good deal of experience of running groups for children with additional needs in our church, we are not qualified professionals, so please take advice from your church and diocese. You may also find it helpful to look at the 'useful links' section of the web-site: The Enabling Church course produced by 'Churches for All' may be helpful if you are just starting out. I would also particularly flag up the Additional Needs Alliance and Mark Arnold (Urban Saints) who may be willing to visit and advise you in setting up your ministry. You will also be able to get advice from your local diocesan office. The relevant staff members in the Guildford Diocese are Steff Shepherd (Assistant Children & Families Ministry Adviser & Resource Centre Assistant); Tracey Wade (Diocesan Sensory Inclusion Adviser) & Suzette Jones (Health & Wellbeing Adviser).