Pioneering community project in Hemel Hempstead wins national award

05 July 2014

A project which aims to make families with disabled children feel welcome, accepted and loved regardless of their condition, has won a coveted national award in recognition of the work it undertakes. Messy Church SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities), which is run from Adeyfield Free Church in Hemel Hempstead, has been named as a Community Project Award winner and receives prize money of £2,000.

The project draws people from a wide catchment area around Adeyfield Free Church. The families that attend have children with a wide range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, learning disabilities and those on the Autistic spectrum. Messy Church SEND provides these families with a space where the needs of disabled children are fully understood and prioritised. The volunteers engage with each individual's preferred learning style through the use of appropriate multi-sensory activities, materials and resources.

Such is the impact of the project that it has been recognised as one of the winners of a coveted Community Project Award. On Saturday 5 July, the Revd Peter Blackband, minister of Adeyfield Free Church, was presented with the award at the United Reformed Church General Assembly held in Cardiff. Messy Church SEND also received £2,000 prize money to enable it to continue its vital work.

Mr Blackband said: "I am really pleased for the people who had the original vision for this - for Trish and for Tim; I see this award as an affirmation of their work in really including disabled children, children with special needs and their whole families, and bringing the love of God to them. That affirmation is wonderful."

A representative from the project said that the £2,000 prize money will be used to purchase additional equipment to help the children's learning.

Margaret Slater, Marketing Manager of Congregational & General Insurance, the sponsors of the Community Project Awards, said: "Messy Church SEND is a unique project that serves a very real need in the local community and beyond. We look forward to seeing further development of the projects as it continues to grow and we are delighted to present them with this award for their excellent work."