A Glimpse Into The Life Of A Roofbreaker (Ros' Blog)
This week we have a guest blog post from Heidi Buckell, whose story shows that churches don’t have to make huge adjustments to make a huge difference to the lives of their disabled members – all it takes is a heart of love and a determination to ensure that everyone is welcomed and enabled to play their part. Find out more about becoming a Roofbreaker by following this link.
My first involvement with Through the Roof (TTR) was back in 2007 when I signed up to become a mentor to other disabled people. Unfortunately this scheme did not really ‘take off’; nevertheless it introduced me to TTR. It was when my friend wanted to go to America for her main holiday that I really became involved with TTR. I always like a more relaxing holiday so we both knew going to America and doing all of the tourist activities was not for me - she had another friend who loved this sort of holiday so off they went! I remember sitting down and thinking well, what do I do for my holiday this year? I plucked up the courage to email TTR to see what holidays they were running.
I have always tried to ‘run away’ from my disability seeing myself as very much trying to live in an able-bodied world; therefore the thought of going away with a group of disabled people was probably as alien to me as going to the moon! I am so glad that I had plucked up the courage, as going on that holiday was one of the best things I have done. I remember meeting Becky for the first time and one of the first real conversations we had was around making a cup of tea! (We like to get our priorities right!) I explained to her that I could not carry a cup of tea without spilling it so when I wanted a cuppa, whilst sitting on the sofa, I had to bring the kettle to the coffee table and pour the water into the mug there – as opposed to what most people would do - make the cup of tea in the kitchen and carry it through. Becky just looked at me and said ‘Well, that’s exactly what I do.’ The fact that we had so much in common was amazing.
It was after that conversation I realised how the support and camaraderie I found from TTR holidays was invaluable. We always have a time of worship at the end of each day at Treloar’s, which is often led by Jenny!! Last year, Jenny was sharing about prayer partners and Becky and I turned to each other to suggest that we become prayer partners. Now, every week we message each other with an update on how we are and what our prayer requests are for the following week – a brilliant source of support. The Treloars holiday is now very much a highlight of my year and the holidays which I go with my other friend now have to fit around Treloars!
I am very fortunate to belong to a loving church fellowship; this is particularly important to me as none of my ‘earthly’ family go to church. My church is therefore very much a second family to me. I have been going to the same church now for 15 years and they are absolutely brilliant in the way they do not let my disability stop me from becoming an active member of the church. I am able to walk unaided so access is not a problem but here are some little things which they've done in order to help me – I am a firm believer in Mr Tesco’s motto – Every little thing helps!
- I was invited to do the Bible reading during the morning service. We do not normally project the scripture on to the screen but in order to make sure that my speech impediment did not interfere with the message the scripture was projected
- If I have a testimony or a prayer request which I want to share I am always encouraged to do so. If I indicate that I would rather sit down to speak, rather than speaking from the lectern then a separate microphone is set up
- For occasions when I only have something brief to share and I therefore feel I can do it from the lectern then a hand rail has been put up to help me with the three small steps
- I found that it was too difficult for me to have a drink after the service as everyone either stood up or carried their drinks to their seats. I therefore wondered whether a small table could be left at the back of the church for me to sit at. This has made a huge difference as I am no longer ‘hanging’ about waiting for a friend to take me home, while they are enjoying coffee and a chat – I am also now enjoying a coffee and a chat.
- My house group leader is also now aware that I need a table in order to enjoy a coffee.
- In June of this year, my church voted to make me, 'Disability Champion', we used this job title as this is the job title which I have at my place of work (West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust) but it's the same as being a Roofbreaker. My first idea as a Roofbreaker, which has now been adopted, is that we have 'chunky' communion glasses available for people to use. Due to my problems with my manual dexterity I have always taken an egg cup with me, for communion but now we have glasses available which are much easier to hold.
My next job as a Roofbreaker will be to arrange for an access audit to be done of the church building. Due to my disability I do get tired if I am not careful, so we are doing one thing at a time, but Disability Awareness will definitely be a future focus. I am hoping to help pilot a Roofbreaker training workshop for churches with Through the Roof in early 2020.