A major disability- and dementia-friendly church conference is to take place on 3 June, in Birmingham, to bring greater awareness of the issues.
In 20 years there’ll be more than 0.5 million people in the UK aged 100 or over. A new report by the Alzheimer’s Society points to the ‘loneliness, alienation and segregation’ of many elderly people.
Prof. John Swinton, Church of Scotland minister and chairman in Divinity and Religious Studies at Aberdeen University, has written, ‘A person’s spirituality has nothing to do with what they may or may not know. It has everything to do with who they know and how they relate to them’.
Prof. Swinton will be a keynote speaker at the ‘Everybody In’ national conference, which will address the Christian approach to a wide range of disabilities and disabling conditions. He has described the need for the ‘open, inclusive community of love and acceptance which we find revealed and lived out in the ministry of Jesus’.
Among the line-up of speakers is Christian psychotherapist Louise Morse, who believes that the secret of more contented ageing is found in the Bible. Louise, who is media and communications manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, said, ‘Living by scriptural wisdom prepares us cognitively, emotionally and spiritually for contented old age’.
The conference will look at challenges faced by the UK church in welcoming and including people with dementia, sight loss, hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, autism and loss of mobility. It will also discuss how churches supports carers.
Conference organiser Dr Gordon Temple said, ‘When we look at the bigger picture we see that already 11 million people in the UK have a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability. That’s one in six of us, and a number which will continue to rise’.
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