Last year, James and Sarah Kewley took on the role of ‘Inclusion Co-ordinators’ at Fulwood Free Methodist Church. James was a primary school teacher, but most recently works as an advisory teacher supporting schools to include children with additional needs. Sarah has worked in special schools and now works as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities within their own homes. They say:
“It is vital that children and adults with disabilities feel not only included, but valued and equal within the church environment. We recognise that people with autism and other additional needs might struggle to cope in this lively place so our aim is to offer a safe haven for those seeking a quiet, more structured zone. Within the church, we are raising awareness towards those with additional needs; this means supporting the leaders of different church activities such as, Toddlers, Energize, Impact, and Sunday Services, to promote inclusion. We set up a core team of people, each with a real heart and desire to enable every person with a disability to be included in church life and activities.”
Many of the adults who lead children’s and youth work have completed training with us. This raised awareness of different additional needs. We gave ‘top tip’ strategies to support inclusion, including awareness of the needs of carers, parents and siblings of the child. Our resources for ‘Energize’ (Junior Church) include a sensory tent and a visual timetable which are currently being successfully used to support children with additional needs.
We value your opinion as our team moves carefully forward. If you have any questions or ideas as to how FFMC could support you, your family or friends with disabilities then please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.