A NEW charity emphasising the training of local people for involvement in the care and support of people who are mentally handicapped was launched on November 24.
The charity, Walsingham Community Homes, is supported by the Anglican, Catholic and Free Churches. Its purpose is to establish and run small, locally based homes and to ensure that the mentally handicapped residents are welcomed and supported by members of the local Christian community.
In support of these Houses, Cardinal Basil Hume has written. "Parents with mentally handicapped sons or daughters have often told me that their biggest concern is for the future.
"Who will look after their children when they are no longer there? Will they still be able to go to Mass and the sacraments? Where will they be living?
"If is for this reason that I welcome Walsingham Community Homes. Cooperating with all the churches in a neighbourhood this new charity responds to a fundamental need for men and women with a mental handicap. Parents will receive new hope and by working together on the local level the Christian churches will be effectively drawn closer together.
"I wish the new project every success and I encourage you all to give it your fullest support."
In all his work for the mentally handicapped Gordon Snell has always got his priorities right by beginning things with prayer. The first thing he does in talking to a parish group about the people Jean Vanier calls "the wounded of Christ". He invites his audience to join with him in prayer.
In this context I am ever mindful of the words of the Holy Father at the service for the sick, in St George's Cathedral, Southwark, on May 28, 1982, when he said; "Do not turn away from the handicapped and the dying. Do not push them to the margins of society . . . let us treasure them and recongise with gratitude the debt we owe them. We begin by imagining that we are giving to them: we end by realising that they have enriched us."
Details from Mark Snell, Walsingham Community Homes Ltd, St Joseph's Centre The Burroughs, Hendon, London NW4 Tel 01-202 6789