Equipping Groups, Camps and connected churches

1st Oct 2021

‘Now may God supply you with everything good. Then you can do what he wants. May he do in us what is pleasing to him. We can do it only with the help of Jesus Christ. Give him glory for ever and ever. Amen.’

Hebrews 13: 20b-21 (Accessible Edition New Testament, a project which we are collaborating in with Biblica).


2021 into 2022: Equipping Groups, Camps and Connected Churches

What a year it has been! Back in the spring I wrote to share about how, in the face of all that has been happening with the pandemic, we were still reaching out to children and young people with additional needs like Malachi and Bethany and helping them to respond to the Gospel message of hope and love. This is work that is needed now more than ever as a recent report shows that 90% of children with additional needs are still socially isolated.

I asked if you would be willing to support us to reach our spring appeal target of £7,500 to equip and enable us to continue to make an even bigger difference for families with children with additional needs. In spite of the pressures that everyone has been experiencing, by God’s grace and your support, we have achieved and even surpassed that target.

Your generosity has enabled our work with children and young people with additional needs to continue to grow. Thank you ever so much for all of your support, it is very much appreciated!

Reality check:
9 in 10 disabled children are still socially isolated despite lockdown easing.
Disabled Children’s Partnership survey, June 2021

As you will appreciate, 2021 has been a challenging year in many ways, but I hope to share with you a little of what we’ve been able to achieve together during this year so far, as well as to outline some specific projects that we’re working on and need your support with for the end of this year and into 2022.


Training and Conferences:

So far in 2021 we’ve delivered around 40 online training and conference events, reaching and supporting around 1,300 children’s, youth and families workers, parents and carers to make a difference for the children and young people with additional needs that they journey with.

“Hi Mark, thank you so much for a tremendous morning. You covered a lot of ground in such a short time. Plenty to take away for everyone no matter where they are coming from… Super!”
Rachael Mackarel, Tio Associates

We’ve provided training for students at Moorlands College, St. Mellitus College, Bristol Baptist College and South West Youth Ministries, and spoken at conferences for Care for the Family, Youth For Christ, Girls Brigade and Children Matter! to name just a few.

See later how you can help us provide ‘hybrid’ training sessions that bring people together who are in the building and online, enabling them to share the same interactive training experience!



We’ve co-hosted a series of podcasts with our friends at Growing Hope, with guests including Paul and Becky Harcourt who lead New Wine and have a disabled son, the author Emily Owen who is disabled herself, and many more. The Growing Hope Conversations series of 12 podcast episodes is being released weekly through the autumn.

“You did a great job co-hosting and I think you will enjoy listening back. I have learnt so much! It was great working with you too! Thank you for your hard work and support.”
Rachel Orphan, Growing Hope

We spoke at the ‘Special Father’s Network’ Conference, a global conference linking fathers of children with additional needs, and also supported the education sector through the ‘Getting It Right – LIVE’ conference, helping teaching staff understand the challenges that families face.



In 2021 so far, about 70,000 people have visited ‘The Additional Needs Blogfather’ site and viewed the blogs about 85,000 times! The blog site has reached around the world with people in 207 countries connecting to the helpful, supportive and encouraging posts they find there.

“Your loving attitude is beautifully put and role-modelled here Mark, and as a parents of a teen with Intellectual Disability and ASD we wholly agree with you.”
Re: ‘All You Need Is Love’

We’ve also had lots of opportunities to write articles and resources for a range of publications and ministries over the year so far, including across the UK, Europe and North America.

See later how you can help us to give copies of a brand new book we’re writing to all Urban Saints Groups and Camps, as well as to some connected churches!


Supporting Communities:

I have shared previously how the Additional Needs Alliance online learning and support community had 2,531 members at the start of 2021. It has now grown to around 2,650 children’s and youth workers, parents, church leaders and more, connecting and learning together through this community. We’re aiming for 2,750 by year end.

See later how you can help us to provide a valuable additional needs resource pack free of charge to 1,000 children’s and youth workers at a conference in November!

‘The Dads’ Fire Circle’ continues to help and support Dads of children with additional needs, with a website, a monthly live gathering and a Facebook group for Dads to connect with others on a similar journey. Enabling Dads to talk about things helps them to cope better and positively impacts the awful figures for family breakdowns for families with children with additional needs.

Reality check:
50% of parental relationships are strained as respite care for disabled children has been unavailable.
Disabled Children’s Partnership survey, June 2021


Plans for 2021 into 2022 and how you can help

As we give thanks for all the ways that we’ve been able to keep making a difference for children and young people with additional needs, like Malachi and Bethany, we continue to push on through the remaining months of 2021 and into 2022 with plans to equip Urban Saints Groups, Camps and connected churches as they reach out to children and young people with additional needs in their communities.

Here are some of these plans, as well as the support needed to make them a reality:


Equipment – ‘Hybrid’ training and conferences

Over the past 18 months, our training and conference offerings have all switched successfully to online delivery, but we are now exploring ways to offer in-building training and conferences again. As we’ve considered this, we are keen not to leave behind people who, for all sorts of reasons, would find it hard to attend in-building training. We’ve learned a lot over the last 18 months about how to provide online training well and we’re using that knowledge to help us put together ‘hybrid’ training that brings together people who are in the building and people who are connecting online, providing an interactive and inclusive training experience for everyone.

To make this work well we need the tools to do it and that includes the technology to effectively link people in different places into what we are doing at a church or meeting hall. The kit to do this will need an investment of about £500 and your support will help us to get this in place as in-building additional needs training bookings start to increase.


Book – ‘Including Autistic Children And Young People In Church’

We’ve been honoured to be asked by Grove Books to write one of their ‘Grove Youth Series’ books to help everyone in church to know how to include Autistic children and young people effectively, helping them to belong and grow in their faith. This will be a hugely helpful book to place into the hands of any church leader, children’s, youth or families’ worker. We want to give these out for free to all of our Urban Saints Groups and Camps, as well as having some to support connected churches.

The cost price to us will be about £2.75 a copy and we hope to send out around 250 copies free-of-charge so will need an investment of £1,000 to include post and packing.

Your support will help us to place a copy of this useful book in the hands of people working with and supporting Autistic children in our Groups, Camps and connected churches.


Resource – ‘The Belonging Pack’

We’ve partnered with Youthscape to produce an exciting new resource for children’s and youth workers, to be launched at their National Youth Ministry Weekend conference in November. 1,000 youth workers are expected to be there, and our goal is to give each of them a free copy of this resource so that they can take it back to their own groups and churches.

‘The Belonging Pack’ will help them to ensure that their youth work is accessible and inclusive for all, a place where everyone belongs, especially children and young people with additional needs. The pack includes inspirational stories of groups and churches that have successfully made this work, thoughts about what Jesus taught us regarding inclusion, resources to learn more about additional needs and the barriers that young people face, helpful tips to overcome these barriers, case studies to practice with and tools to take this forward in their own setting.

This beautifully designed resource will be a huge help for the 1,000 children’s and youth workers we give it to, as well as the teams that they will take it back to. Each copy costs £10 to produce, so to give away 1,000 copies will cost us £10,000. We’ve been wonderfully blessed with a gift of £5,000 to cover half of this cost but need to match it by raising the remaining £5,000 so that we can get this resource produced in time for the conference in mid-November. Your support will help us to achieve this goal and make a transforming difference to children and young people with additional needs in 1,000 groups and churches across the UK!


Please continue to support this vital work

We can only do this much needed work, making a real difference for children, like Malachi and Bethany, who have struggled so much through the past 18 months, with your help and I am deeply grateful to everyone who faithfully journeys with us in the Additional Needs Ministry. The three projects I’ve outlined above need a total of £6,500 to become a reality, and that doesn’t include the ongoing running costs of the ministry. With your continued support we will be able to meet these project costs and close the gap to meet our immediate ministry costs for the end of the year by raising the £10,000 needed as a response to this autumn appeal.

Will you partner with us once again to help us reach our autumn appeal target and play our part in continuing to change the reality for children and young people with additional needs and disabilities? Our hope is in this verse from Hebrews that I shared at the beginning: ‘Now may God supply you with everything good. Then you can do what he wants. May he do in us what is pleasing to him. We can do it only with the help of Jesus Christ. Give him glory for ever and ever. Amen.’ Hebrews 13:20b-21

Click here to donate now

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support, it is greatly appreciated and is making a big, big difference!

Serving Christ together,

Mark Arnold
Additional Needs Ministry Director

Find out more about the Additional Needs Ministry of Urban Saints by visiting the Additional Needs section of the website:

Additional Needs