The Archbishops’ Council has allocated £2.4m to support a range of initiatives aimed at improving the involvement of deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent individuals in Church life.
It was announced on Thursday that the funding will fuel projects including vocation and leadership events, improvements in accessibility through signage and infrastructure, mental-health chaplaincy, and the deaf ministry.
This financial commitment forms part of the Church’s broader £1.2bn initiative for ministry activities during the current triennium, spanning from 2023 to 2025. Notably, this allocation marks a 30 per cent increase from the previous triennium's funding.
Over the next three years, the grants will be managed by the Church’s Disability and Deaf Ministry Task Groups.
One of the schemes set to receive a grant is the creation of more café-style spaces in churches, in partnership with mental-health professionals and the charity Renew Wellbeing.
Bishop Richard Atkinson, Chair of the Committee for the Ministry of and among Deaf and Disabled People, praised the “straightforward, simple idea” as a measure to bolster mental health support, citing how the deaf ministry has “declined substantially” over the past decade.
“This funding will help the Church advance the journey towards equality and justice for Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people and release many as yet unrecognised gifts that will enrich the church we are and the church we are becoming,” he said.
Further grants, up to £50,000, will facilitate physical renovations in buildings across the Northern Province to enhance accessibility. Additionally, smaller-scale accessibility projects will receive grants of up to £5,000, targeting localised improvements.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Thursday that the funding was “overdue”. “Everyone should have the opportunity to take part in the life of the Church. Without the insights and the gifts of disabled, deaf, and neurodivergent people we are immeasurably poorer in our life together in Christ.”
Rev John Beauchamp, London Diocesan Disability Ministry Enabler, expressed optimism about the cultural shift signalled by this funding.
“As a blind person who has fulfilled 30 years of ordained ministry, I am encouraged by this funding and the signs of cultural shift that it indicates.”