The Church of Scotland has been urged to campaign against cuts being imposed by Scottish local authorities on learning disability services.
A report from the Kirk's Mission and Discipleship Council presented to the Church's General Assembly, which concluded last week, voiced strong concern about the potential impact of cuts on some of the country’s most needy citizens.
The council’s convener, the Rev Mark Johnstone, said the prospects were deeply worrying: “Some people with learning disabilities may not receive any services at all, whilst others face the prospect of no day care or reduced support in their homes."
“There’s also the very real possibility that others will be asked to pay more for their existing care," he continued. “Through its words and actions the Church has always strived to reflect Christ’s love for the disadvantaged, and we want the Kirk to stand alongside disempowered people and use its prophetic voice to challenge injustice."
“Cuts to learning disability service users would appear to make vulnerable people even more vulnerable, so it is imperative we campaign against this,” said Mr Johnstone.
The convener of the Mission and Discipleship Council also said that he was greatly encouraged by congregations in the Kirk to provide opportunities for worship and learning for people with learning disabilities.
In Falkirk, Brightons Parish Church runs a fortnightly 'Friends of Jesus Club', and on the south side of Glasgow Maxwell Mearns Castle Parish Church runs 'Tom’s Club', which meets on a monthly basis.
The initiatives were organised in partnership with Prospects, a Christian organisation which specialises in learning disabilities.
CrossReach, the Church of Scotland’s social care arm, run a variety of projects for those with learning disabilities, and has also called on local authorities not to further reduce funding in this area.
* More on the Kirk General Assembly from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/kirkgeneralassembly
* Read Ekklesia's report, 'Betraying disabled people and welfare', by Karen McAndrew - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14675