The Additional Needs Alliance – helping churches to include, support, create places of belonging for, and spiritually grow children, young people and young adults with additional needs or disabilities. Among our Members are many individuals and organisations that offer a range of excellent services and resources to assist churches and other groups working in this area to make a real difference for their community.
The Additional Needs Alliance has four aims:
Encouraging conversations about children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities
We need to talk – if there’s no conversation, there will be no change. We want to encourage conversations about every area of additional need and disability, not just one specific need. We want to encourage conversations started by, and including, not only the children and young people who have a lived experience of additional needs and disabilities, but by parents, siblings, carers, volunteers and professionals too. We want to encourage conversations that cover every point of view – we do not seek to promote just one idea (other than the need to belong). We want to encourage conversations at every level of church life, not just within families, or children, family and youth workers or weekly volunteers. We want to see church leaders actively involved in the conversation too.
Resourcing the church to make inclusion and belonging a reality
This is not just about inclusion. You can be ‘included’, and yet feel as though you don’t belong. To quote the theologian John Swinton; “You know you belong when you are missed”. He doesn’t mean missed with a sigh of relief, but missed because you are part of the family. We want to see children with additional needs and disabilities, along with their families, feeling as though they belong in their church family, and not feeling as though they are a burden. We aim to point to good resources that encourage and enable belonging.
Strengthening resilient faith regardless of ability
It is true that sometimes our communities work so hard at inclusion, and making sure both the children and their families belong, they forget faith development. Like their peers, children with additional needs and disabilities need to meet Jesus for themselves, to be discipled and mentored in faith. We want to facilitate good and appropriate teaching, regardless of ability.
Creating a passion for action and change
We’d love to see a champion in every church and faith community. Someone who can inspire a change for the better. At a national level, we’d also like to see a passion for inclusion high on the agenda in every denomination and flavour of church.