This seems like a very odd question to ask in the middle of the worst pandemic to engulf the human population for 100 years, but eventually there will be a post-coronavirus world to live in. But what might it be like? And what does that have to do with a ministry about supporting children and young people with additional needs and their families? Well, there could be quite a bit!
One way is through the radical changes to the ways that we are communicating with each other at the moment. It’s been great to connect via Zoom or Skype with colleagues who are working from home, and to attend online church services and ‘virtual’ prayer meetings. While this has been a necessary way of working for us all during this current crisis, it has been of enormous benefit to many who even prior to this were ‘socially isolated’ due to disability, illness, or through having a child with additional needs. For the most marginalised in our society, the online world has opened up new and exciting opportunities to take part that simply weren’t there before.
The Additional Needs Ministry at Urban Saints is committed to responding to these needs, creating opportunities for families to take part in online Bible studies, for example, or to share teaching resources with each other. We’ve been busy developing our CAN-I online training programme for childrens and youth workers, equipping them with tools to enable them to help everyone to belong, grow and thrive.
We took part in the recent Spring Harvest Home online conference, providing some accessible study sessions with subtitles and BSL interpretation supporting the theme of the Holy Spirit, with this endorsement from the New Wine accessible church team; “...it’s been great to catch up on some of what’s going on this year, particularly Mark Arnold’s accessible church teaching, good work guys!”
And we’ve been writing, with articles published in countries around the world, supporting families of children with additional needs to understand and cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
I hope that once we are all able to move around freely again, to go to church, Urban Saints Groups and other places that have been closed, we won’t stop using the online skills that we’ve acquired and will keep thinking about how to include everyone, especially the most marginalised. Let’s make sure that no child, young person, or family is left ‘socially isolated’ again.
Additional Needs Ministry Director www.urbansaints.org/additionalneeds