Finding support for carers

First published 2nd June 2016
This year National Carers' Week runs from 6 to 12 June - but unless you happen to be a carer it may well pass you by. Alice Kemp, the diocesan disability adviser, would like to encourage churches to take this opportunity to reflect on how they support carers, both in the church and in the wider community.

A recent piece of research from the Christian disability charity Through the Roof asked Christians across the country four questions. One of these was: What one thing do you wish churches knew?; 100 percent of parents of disabled children who were surveyed gave some version of this answer: "I wish churches knew how hard and how lonely it is to bring up a child with a disability; that this is not just a 'bad day', this is every day." They concluded that parents really do feel churches dont understand.

I am the parent of disabled children, now aged 18 and 26. My son, Francis, in particular has severe and complex physical and learning disabilities and, from an early age, he attended a special needs playgroup, followed by a special school, which he still attends. This meant that the natural connections that are formed at the school gate and through our childrens friends didnt happen as he travelled to school on a bus each day; my contact with other parents was minimal.

It is very hard to describe what our daily life has been like with our son but the combination of a chronic lack of sleep, our sons challenging behaviours and his medical needs have meant that we have lived in a highly stressed environment for 18 years. Our son recently moved into supported living and its only now we are beginning to realise how difficult our life has been. Isolation has been a big part of life with Francis and, if it hadnt been for the welcome and support of our local church, at times we would have had minimal contact with the world outside of school and hospital. So when I read this research it resonated with my experiences.

This isolation isnt unique to just parents of children with disabilities but spreads across the age range to all carers. There are great groups around that support carers but I believe that our churches can play a role in more individualised support and friendship.

Do take this opportunity to read the full report. And think about what you can do as a church to support and include carers in your church family. Many of the healing stories in the Gospel show Jesus dealing with family members of the ill and disabled with great compassion which I believe challenges us to do the same.

I would love to collect some stories of good practice to share with other churches, so if you have done anything youd be happy to share with me, get in touch at



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