FREE therapy clinics for children and young people with additional needs will be expanded across parish churches with the help of a £258,000 grant from the Allchurches Trust.
The charity, Growing Hope, that manages the project hopes that 20 will be in place by 2030. They will offer services including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, children’s counselling, and music and art therapy. Families of children with additional needs will have an opportunity to connect with others, access to a church, and the option of being prayed for.
Growing Hope, launched in 2017, sets up clinics in partnership with parish churches. It has already worked with more than 400 children, families, teachers, and professionals, including 120 individuals at its King’s Cross project, in London, which is supported by King’s Cross Church. Its clinic in Brockley, south-east London, is supported by St Peter’s, Brockley. Any child with additional needs living in the clinic area can be referred.
One parent who attended a Growing Hope clinic said: “You are a human being for them, not just a person with a problematic child.”
The founder and chief executive of Growing Hope, Dr Naomi Graham, said last week: “Sadly, there is not enough therapy provision available within current health services, and families often report this. We want to bridge this gap.”
The trust grants officer at the Allchurches Trust, Chloe Ewen, said last week that the pandemic had increased the needs of such children and their families and “exacerbated feelings of isolation”.
A report on the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children and young people, published by the London Assembly Health Committee in March, noted that for those with additional needs, “accessing normal support services had become particularly difficult. . . there was often a deterioration in the mental health and wellbeing of the child or young person.” Reports suggested that most learning materials provided by schools during the lockdown had not been tailored to their needs.
Churches interested in establishing a clinic can contact Growing Help by phone on 07496 528506, or visit: growinghope.org.uk/contact-us