Campaign to make churches accessible to people with disabilities

 A national campaign is being launched, to make all churches and church activities accessible to people with any kind of disability. Lord David Alton is a major supporter of the project. Churches for All, will be unveiled at the National Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) on Tuesday 15 May. The initiative is being led by Through the Roof, Causeway Prospects and the Evangelical Alliance. The campaign forms part of CRE's Caring Church theme and encourages churches to value people with disabilities on the basis of their created status and will give awards to churches that meet certain standards. Lord Alton said: "I am thrilled to be able to offer my support for the launch of Churches for All at CRE. With an estimated nine million people suffering disabilities in the UK, we as a church have a responsibility to ensure that our buildings are fully equipped to meet their needs. The church must aim to be inclusive of all." The campaign comprises three parts: Access standards - Objective information on the accessibility of churches in four disability areas: limited mobility, blind/partially sighted, deaf/hard of hearing and learning disabilities. Good Practice Guide - This addresses issues of attitude and practice which can not be objectively measured. The Guide is a definitive source of reference for churches that want to be inclusive of disabled people. Policy Statement - All churches are urged to adopt this statement which sets out the church's commitment to being inclusive, to identifying a named individual in the church who can be consulted on accessibility issues and a policy to keep accessibility and inclusiveness issues under regular review. CRE will hold the first awards ceremony for churches. Accreditation will be given at the three different levels: Bronze Standard by means of a self-assessment questionnaire or independent assessment; Silver Standard by independent inspection (this demands a higher level of provision for disabled people); and Gold Standard for a church that receives accreditation at the Silver Standard in all four disability areas. The National CRE Exhibition runs from the 15-18 May at Sandown Racecourse, Esher. To find out more about the exhibition visit the CRE Exhibition website or call 01844 342894.

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