Wheels 4 Haiti
Following January’s terrible earthquake in Haiti, Through the Roof has set up a special fund for future work there, called ‘Wheels 4 Haiti’.
Much of the initial giving to Haiti is for alleviating the immediate crisis. Even as the story falls away from the headlines, and the wreckage starts to be cleared, the longterm problem remains huge, and with so many leg injuries there is going to be an ongoing need for wheelchairs and for medical professionals to assist in fitting and advice. Through the Roof is fully equipped to contribute through our Wheels for the World programme. We recycle wheelchairs that would have been discarded, and have them refurbished to a very high standard at a prison. We then distribute them with expert medical and technical support to assist in fitting.
However, to deliver to Haiti we need funding. Our target is to raise £10,000 to cover the cost of one distribution to Haiti (200 chairs) and if we raise more than this we can help with volunteer personal costs and more or larger distributions.
The project will be launched with a special event in Epsom on the 26th March, featuring guest speaker, Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom & Ewell and Shadow Home Secretary. We’ll be running more events and raising awareness over the next few months to help create these funds, but we welcome your support and ideas for this programme and all our work.
Specific giving guarantees specific delivery of help for this specific need in Haiti.
- this link uses www.justgiving.com
We are delighted to announce that Through the Roof is privileged to be represented at the historic Capetown 2010 event. Our chief executive, Jacky Oliver, has been selected as one of only 70 people to be invited from the UK. More importantly this is about ensuring that the inclusive language does indeed mean everyone, including those of us who live with some form of disability.
Cape Town 2010, held in collaboration with the World Evangelical Alliance, will bring together 4,000 leaders from more than 200 countries to confront how the critical issues of our time – other world faiths, poverty, HIV/AIDS and persecution, among others - relate to the future of the Church and world evangelization.
You can assist us in this by
- Offering to be part of a prayer network for Jacky
- Log onto Global link and keep involved with the discussion
- Log onto our website for updates and to give us your comments
Find a DCF Group
Here's a list of DCF Groups through the UK -- Please email the Through the Roof office or phone on 01372 749955 to be put in touch with one.
We've included postcodes to hopefully give a good idea of the location of the group. Contact us for more details.
- Birmingham (Haymills and Yardley) - B25
- Croydon - CR2
- Fylde Coast (Thornton Cleveleys & Blackpool) - FY5
- Ipswich - IP4
- Malvern - WR14
- Norwich - NR7
- Sidcup - DA14
- Taw & Torridge - EX31
- Worthing - BN13
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) is legislation that was implemented with the aim of ending discrimination towards disabled people in terms of services, employment, education etc.
Does this apply to my church?
It certainly does! As service providers, churches have the following obligations:
Not to treat disabled people 'less favourably' for a reason related to their disability - for example, a church should not tell a family not to bring their child with learning disabilities as the child shouts out at inappropriate times. The church should work with the parents to find a solution together.
To make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people, such as providing extra help or making changes to the way the church provides its services (whether these be worship services, house groups, social events, weddings, funerals etc). An example might be to provide large print versions of songs projected onto screen, to help people with sight loss or people who cannot stand to worship. Reasonable adjustments also involves the provision of equipment such as an induction loop system for hearing aid users.
To make 'reasonable adjustments' to physical features to overcome physical barriers for disabled people - for example, by providing ramps where there are steps or providing a wheelchair accessible toilet.
How can we get more help on how the Act affects our church?
A useful publication is the Code of Practice: Rights of Access, Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises. This is published by the Stationary Office, ISBN 0-11-702860-6, and can be ordered from any good bookshop.
What support can TTR provide?
We have produced a pack called 'Removing Barriers' which is a self-assessment resource/questionnaire enabling churches to check a set of measures to see how inclusive their services, activities and programmes are for disabled people.
To order your copy of Removing Barriers, and to see our other useful publications, please go to our online shop.
Churches for All
Through the Roof is a member of Churches for All, a partnership of UK Christian disability organisations aiming to challenge and enable churches to fully include disabled people.
Visit the CFA website for more information of each respective partner organisation and details of their specific resources which could assist: www.churchesforall.org.uk
Partner organisations include:
- Causeway Prospects - resources for people with learning disabilities
- Torch Trust - literature and fellowship for people with sight loss
- Go! Sign - supporting and enabling Deaf Christians
- Livability - care, housing and education for disabled people
- Open Ears - fellowship for hard of hearing Christians
- ASNA - Adventist Special Needs Association - support for disabled people and families
New TTR Website
Hello and welcome to the new TTR website -- now with shiny new whistles, bells and a range of other lovely features. We're still stretching out into this new space, so there's a few sections left to fill, and doubtless a few little errors. If you spot anything, please send an email and we'll get right on it. Equally, if there's anything you'd like to see, please get in touch.
In the meantime, do have a cheerful wander and gather all the information you can. We'll have plenty more coming soon. Thank you for paying us a visit!
Beyond Political Correctness - letting God reshape our attitudes to disability
‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
Nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
A man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed him not.’
When you encounter a visibly disabled person, how often is your response: ‘That’s sad, how terrible, what an awful position to be in, you poor person’? As an able-bodied person that’s certainly been one of mine. Disabled people had little ‘beauty or majesty’ to attract me – I felt sorry for them and ‘esteemed them not’.
Perceiving disabled people this way can lead to other reactions too – the harbouring of unrealistic ideas about how ‘brave’ they are, guilt at feeling more advantaged, an unnamed discomfort, even irritation, creating a desire to withdraw or escape. The disability may intrude, introducing a note of awkwardness that feels difficult to avoid.
Now put yourself into the shoes of that disabled person. Imagine what it’s like to provoke that reaction everywhere you go – to see the pity in people’s eyes, feel it in their discomfiture, hear it in the well-meaning but patronising comments. In all these there’s a distancing of ourselves from disabled people, a need to see them as somehow different to ourselves.
The need for changed hearts…
People tell us to see the person not the disability – but it’s not that easy in practice. That’s why, when disabled people are asked what makes life most difficult for them, they invariably answer other people’s attitudes, not lifts or ramps or loos. That’s why we need to ask God to change our hearts, not just our buildings.
In fact, these reactions say more about us than they do about disabled people: they stem from our own inner fears and personal insecurities, doubts about our self-worth and misguided value systems. It is our hearts which are in need of healing far more than the bodies of disabled people.
The Disability Discrimination Act has prompted many churches to make excellent improvements to their buildings. However God’s church is made of ‘living stones’. Physical adaptations cannot do the trick. They must be accompanied by change from within – which is far harder to achieve.
Disability is difficult – there is no escaping from that – but other people’s attitudes can make it so much worse.
A brief glance at the gospels shows the universal acceptance offered by Jesus to disabled people was no more common then than it is now. Blind Bartimaeus was told to ‘shut up’, lepers and other disabled people were kept away, hidden in ghettoes. Disability was viewed as a shameful and horrible curse - which is how many people also secretly feel today.
As these verses show, Jesus clearly knows what it’s like to be viewed through such fallen human attitudes. He also longs to heal us from them, so that his church can accept and value disabled people as freely as he did. But such change is not an easy process, nor a quick one. Political correctness is no answer - it is just a superficial coating smoothed over unreformed hearts.
The problem is, disability disturbs people at a very deep level. It surfaces all kinds of hidden fears - about our own inner brokenness, our physical vulnerability and mortality, and the nature of our human existence. This is probably why disabled people have been shunned or sidelined by virtually every society across all time. It’s also why becoming involved with disabled people can feel so threatening – it goes against our natural grain.
The first step is to throw off political correctness and face up to our true feelings about disability. We need to confess honestly what our hearts really feel about disabled people, and the demands they make on us, which is not necessarily what we would wish – and then ask God to help us change. Only then can we offer disabled people the genuine acceptance they so desire – instead of the pseudo-acceptance that so often substitutes.
But this also means being willing to submit our wills to God and to follow where he leads, even if it doesn’t initially feel appealing.
However, it’s important to realise how much God has to teach us through disability – about weakness, vulnerability and reliance on God’s grace. In particular, learning to accept disability in others means learning to accept our own disabilities too. This is what makes it both so hard and so rewarding.
Very few people fully accept themselves as they are. Most of us struggle with the illusion that we have to be perfect or achieve in order to be loved.
Disabled people can help break the power of this myth. They model that we don’t have to be whole or ‘healed’ or perfect in order to be loved, and that our true value is not measured by what we can or cannot do. This is something we find so very hard to grasp.
If we trust God, if we let him lead us down this unpromising looking path into the world of disability, we will find ourselves being transformed by the people that we meet. They will challenge our attitudes and values head on; they will change the way we think about ourselves and other people; they will test our hearts and expose offensive ways; they will dismantle the inner barriers which keep so many other people out, including God; and especially they will teach us how loved we are by God - just as we are.
And the more at home we become with our own failings and limitations, the more at home we will feel with others who are disabled as well. This is what helps us realise how loved and accepted we are - in our universal brokenness. Discovering Jesus’ heart for disabled people involves discovering his heart for us all - That’s why churches need to make more effort to reach out to people with disabilities, and to receive and value them when they arrive. It is not just about what the church has to offer disabled people, it’s about what disabled people have to offer the church. In the gospels Jesus did much of his teaching through disabled people and he wants to do the same today.
Ultimately I believe that learning to embrace and welcome disabled people is also all about learning to embrace and welcome Jesus. The same feelings which cause us to withdraw from our disabled brothers and sisters keep Jesus at arm’s length too. As Jesus himself tells us, whatever we do for the least of these brothers and sisters of his we also do for him.
We could ask, when Jesus comes to us now in the shape of a severely disabled person, do we recognise and receive him? Do we value and appreciate him? Or is he, who became disabled and broken for our sake, still turned away and not understood?
And the more we step out in faith to overcome our prejudices and our fears, the more whole and complete the body of Christ will become. If the church is to become the fully inclusive and accepting community God has always desired it to be, it must begin embracing humanity in all its forms. Without this it cannot fulfil its prophetic calling, to reflect God’s character and heart to the nations.
Jesus says: ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ (John 13:35) God longs to see the barriers between disabled and non-disabled people broken down, and more disabled people being drawn into the church – and being genuinely honoured once they get there. For in many ways, they more than anyone else share in the cross of Jesus, whose body was broken and disabled for our sake. And one way we give the world a picture of God’s love for humanity is through the time and value we give to those affected by disability – and in so doing we too are drawn into a deeper experience of God’s unconditional love.
In the last 3 months of 2009 Through the Roof gave away over 250 of their publications to help equip and inspire churches and other organisations to more fully include disabled people. Truro Diocese in Cornwall, and Godstone Deanery in Surrey took particular advantage of the offer, with many of their churches now in possession of 'Removing Barriers', 'All Welcome' or one of four other helpful publications. We hope all the churches that took part are pleased with their 'freebies'.
For those churches that missed out, we are happy to make these publications available to you for a small cost, via our online shop.
I am looking out at a white garden as many other people are this morning. The birds continue to sing and scramble for seeds, the squirrels are chasing one another to see who can find the best hidden nuts and generally the landscape looks amazing! The trees are tinged with white and in places icicles hang precariously from various parts of trees, washing lines and bird tables, but I have this sneaking feeling that to most of us this type of weather is only acceptable on Christmas Day when according to our cards, only Father Christmas and Robins enjoy it!
If you are like me, you have been advised from every corner to stay put and keep warm! So the country as we know it, a normally busy thoroughfare with hundreds of cars, pedestrians and public transport, comes to a halt because of snow! Now it would actually be folly for me, a wheelchair user to try to get to my car or travel down our quiet cul-de-sac as I would probably skid or get stuck with my wheels whizzing around and would thus be of no help to anyone, so I am obeying all the advice and staying put.
On reflection, I have been thinking how like the snow our lives actually are. What do I mean? Well, some of us manage to look amazingly lovely on the outside, photographs are taken of us, clothing is bought at enormous expense and, like the snow we can and often do look a real picture of beauty. But what is going on inside that exterior? This lovely landscape of ours is hiding some treacherously slippery and dangerous surfaces, it is in fact hiding a darker side. How are our lives shaping up at the moment? Are we like the freshly falling snow, beautiful on the surface, but underneath hiding resentment, anger, remorse, unhappiness, fear etc? Let’s promise to get a shovel at our lives today and clear away all that which is not seen because it is not on the surface – the Lord only needs a nudge to help you do this! Have a good, warm and safe day!
Through the Roof will be exhibiting at these forthcoming events:
Faithworks conference ‘Building Whole Communities’ to be held at Oasis Academy Enfield EN3 7XH, 26th – 28th February
Mind and Soul ‘The Beautiful Mind’ conference - Holy Trinity Brompton, London SW7 1JA on Friday 26th March
Christian Resources Exhibition, 11th – 14th May at Sandown Park, Esher, as part of a new ‘Churches for All’ disability zone. We will be situated in a different area to usual, to the left of the main entrance, sharing the area with other disability ministries and providing new resources, interactive seminars and presentations.
Hope to see you there!