An organisation created to get children off the streets and learn about Jesus wants to help churches get back to ministering to children in a fresh way.
Urban Saints, originally Crusaders, sees the current national situation as an ideal opportunity for churches to take a fresh look at their youth work.
‘We should be thinking about how to welcome children and young people back again,’ said Mark Arnold, director of additional needs at Urban Saints. ‘And that includes including children and young people with additional or special needs.’
Mark, father to James who is autistic and has associated learning difficulties as well as epilepsy and anxiety disorder, is also co-founder of the Additional Needs Alliance, a vibrant and fast-growing online community. He is an enthusiastic national and international advocate for children and young people with additional (special) needs or disabilities and is passionate about enabling everyone engaging with them to be inspired, trained and well resourced.
‘About 20 per cent of children and young people in the UK have an additional need or disability of some kind – that’s roughly 2.5 million,’ he said. ‘Every church youth group is likely to include children and young people with additional needs and many will need some support.’
A Mumsnet and Scope joint study shows that many of these children and young people, and their families, feel excluded from a wide range of social and other activities. Mark believes that inclusion is something that should be offered to every child and doesn’t stop at wider doors, ramps and disabled loos.
‘We should also be about creating a culture of welcome and belonging for all, as well as looking to develop the faith of every child whatever their ability or needs.’
Urban Saints lead training seminars on a variety of subjects including working with young people outside the church, disciple-making and wellbeing.
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