Aims

The aims of the Kairos Forum are:

1. To provide advice, information, advocacy, and support for individuals and their families regarding spirituality, religious practice and the vital role they have within communities, both religious and secular.

2. To create a space for the development of networks of lay people, professionals and religious communities. At present there is a wide range of people working nationally and internationally within the general field of spirituality and cognitive disabilities who have no contact with one another and no opportunity to share resources, experiences and expertise. The Kairos Forum will provide an international gathering place designed to facilitate the formation of creative networks aimed at enabling good practice in this area. This aspect of the Forum will take the following forms:

a. The creation of a database of people working within the area nationally and internationally with ‘keyword’ search and contact information.

b. The provision of blogs and other discussion fora, designed to facilitate interdisciplinary conversations for those who seek to provide support, spiritual care and accompaniment for people with disabilities. This will lead to the development, implementation and dissemination of information about effective practices.

c. The provision of website and blogs and other discussion fora designed specifically for people with disabilities.

d. In the longer term the intention is to plan to have a facility which will host meetings, conferences and summer schools.

3. Create and make theological, spirituality and mission resources which are accessible to people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. These will be designed to enable communities to discover how disability theology can positively influence the spiritual growth of local churches, communities (religious and secular) and individuals. This will build on the research that Professor Swinton and Ms Gangemi have conducted with regard to people with intellectual disabilities, together with the research Professor Swinton is currently engaged in concerning people who have severe dementia and profound and complex cognitive disabilities. The Forum will continue the work of developing resources for these client groups, but will expand into other areas such as autism, stroke and accidental brain damage.

4. Develop programmes of online education for professionals e.g. carers, families and people with cognitive disabilities, health and social care organisations, chaplains, social workers, pastoral carers and ministers. This will include online seminars (webinars) and courses based in Aberdeen and London, which people may take for interest or as part of their Continual Professional Development, together with an annual or bi-annual international conference. Within three years we will develop a distance learning diploma in Disability Theology (via the University of Aberdeen). Our educational programme will also include online programmes specifically designed for use by people with disabilities.

5. Develop a consultancy service for secular and religious agencies. The Forum will develop a team of consultants with appropriate expertise in the areas of interest. These will then be available to work with professional bodies, including religious agencies, healthcare professionals, local congregations, and others across the country and at an international level.

6. The Forum works closely with the Centre for Spirituality Health and Disability at the University of Aberdeen to create a research agenda that will focus specifically on the needs of people with cognitive disabilities, with a particular focus on those with severe cognitive disabilities (advanced dementia, profound and complex learning disabilities and stroke).