"He Now Has A Dignified Place" - the Spring 2022 Vital Link Newsletter

Welcome to the Spring 2022 issue of the Vital Link newsletter. This issue contains stories from our amazing Kumi Wheels for the World distribution, plus a new Luke 5 award, some holiday news, and reports from our online events (plus much more)

Please contact us on 01372 749955 (or email info@throughtheroof.org) to get a copy in any other format.

You can also view the PDF in the JooMag viewer, which offers easy zooming and page scrolling...

Blog 4: Wheels in Kumi, Uganda 2022

Blog 4: Wheels in Kumi, Uganda 2022

We've got a great team working hard in Kumi Uganda from the 10th to 20th Feb. We'll bring you their life-changing stories and pictures just as often as the internet connection allows. Here's Sam's report from the final day of distribution.

Day 4 began much quieter than the others, with the staff wheeling all the remaining chairs and walking aids through to the workshop, leaving the storeroom empty! As usual the clients gathered under the marquee, this time there was no overflow into the shade of the trees. Everyone prayed while Simon read from the Bible, everyone felt good knowing we would be able to help every client today.

By this point the system had become very smooth, with Lynne Williams registering clients into the waiting area where they will be called up by Modesta, one of our translators, and other staff when ready to be seen by the therapists. The extra space we had gained by having only clients previously chosen by the in-country team was well utilised, allowing for a much clearer separation between clients who needed to be registered and those waiting to be seen by the therapists. This had been a challenge in previous days due to the large numbers of people attending.

A young boy in a new wheelchair wheels across a basketball courtJeremiah Otim is 6 years old and suffers from cerebral palsy, he was unable to crawl or feed himself. Sadly, there were no child’s wheelchairs remaining, but this posed no problem to our amazing techies! Cushioning was fashioned into a full-size wheelchair to fit Jeremiah and even offer support to his head, a problem he has been facing his whole life.

Betty Aanyu was carried in by her family, she claimed to be 135 years old, although I’m not so sure I believe her! Betty has struggled as she cannot mobilise herself without her family, she wishes to travel to church and into hospital for treatment. Her wheelchair will give her the freedom to do so and allow her family the time to work as Betty will not be as dependant on them.

The main issue we faced today was with the availability of suitable wheelchairs. We had so few left to distribute that we no longer had the luxury of choosing the ideal wheelchair for each client. This was particularly apparent with the children who need smaller chairs. So we had to carefully match the last few people to the remaining chairs, but as so often happens, we felt God’s hand was upon this as each person remaining got a chair that was best for them, even down to the last person and the very last chair.

One of the team laughs with a child in their new wheelchairAt the end of the day, we had distributed every single wheelchair, knowing that nothing is wasted is the African way! It was sad to know that we will not be returning tomorrow but, knowing just how many people we had helped, we could leave with smiles on our faces.

Life-Transforming Disability Inclusion -- Two New Luke 5 Awards

Life-Transforming Disability Inclusion -- Two New Luke 5 Awards

Great stories from our Luke 5 Awards

When disabled people are included in Christian life what a life-transforming difference it makes! We’re celebrating two ‘Luke 5 Awards’ for Christian disability inclusion and hear the stories behind the awards…

Congratulations to Ingatestone Elim Church, one of our first ‘Luke 5 Award’ recipients. Sheri Cavill is registered blind and attends Ingatestone Elim Church, where she says “Our Pastor and eldership team are fully accepting of disabled people and willing to make adjustments.” Sheri says “I receive large print materials, I am encouraged to be myself and help to lead services in a local care home.  I play drums in one of our two worship groups.  I give words of encouragement, dance and our building is fully accessible. Accessible website in progress.”

Sheri says that this positive attitude of the church gives her ‘the space to be myself’, to glorify God and to know too that other disabled brothers and sisters are welcome in the church.

A Luke 5 Award has also been awarded to The Journey Community, a ministry led by Rev Cath Hollywell in Derbyshire. Sarah Johnson made this nomination due to the transformation it has brought to her life.

Sarah says, “I’ve struggled to find a worship space that didn’t try to just make me fit into an ableist world view.” However, she says about the Journey Community: “They have accepted me for me (without the ‘what’s wrong with you’ conversation!)”

“The work on Zoom is amazing, even when the group has met and I wasn’t able to be physically present they zoomed me in! They have met outside to ensure accessible comfort, meaning I could attend on my scooter. They have encouraged me to be open about some of the struggles of living my disabled life; meaning that I’ve turned up on-line in PJs and in excruciating pain in bed but been present at morning prayer; something I desperately wanted to attend as it brings me comfort. They have encouraged me to use my gifts, attend training, develop prayer resources; to dare to look at possibilities.”

When asked what difference this has made, Sarah says: “I feel alive! Valued for the disabled person I am, in an embracing and encouraging way”

“At last I feel that I am in a space where I can grow as the person God made, in a way that is appropriate to my limitations but not in a way where I’m made to feel less.  I’m so grateful for all Cath and the other community members have done and I honestly believe they deserve this award.”

If you have experience of living with disability and would like to recognise how your church/ministry or an individual has enabled inclusion for you, please contact Through the Roof or follow this link to fill in the Luke 5 Award nomination form.

A Church That Goes The Extra Mile - A New Luke 5 Award

A Church That Goes The Extra Mile - A New Luke 5 Award

Guildford Baptist Church is the latest recipient of Through the Roof’s ‘Luke 5 Award’ for disability inclusion. The nomination came from a disabled member of the church known as ‘Laurie’ who describes it as a ‘fantastic church’ and explains how he has personally been blessed by their support.

Laurie uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy and communicates through an augmentative communication device – but wants people to know that he is “more than happy being in a wheelchair and I feel that God has made me like this and it is not wrong.”

Guildford Baptist Church has not only included Laurie, but encouraged him to take an active role. He says, “I am writing magazines, helping out with a special needs group, emailing prayers and talks of services and helping with social media.” As well as supporting him with his Christian beliefs, he also says “They are helping me with my social life such as meeting new people on Zoom to allow me to have better communication skills and friendships.”

The church took the proactive step of asking Through the Roof for a Church Disability Awareness workshop (currently delivered over Zoom) and Laurie took part himself, sharing some of his own experiences. It was indicative of the ‘heart’ of the church that so many people attended the workshop to find out more about how they could each play their part.

You’ll find Guildford Baptist Church on Through the Roof’s online map of churches with a Roofbreaker. Have a look at GBC’s website (www.guildfordbaptist.org) – you’ll find a great section explaining all the accessible features of the church including automatic doors, a lift to all floors, accessible toilets (one with a hoist and adjustable changing bench), a loop system and BSL signers at most services. The church has certainly made the most of a recent building project to improve physical access. There’s also a new coffee house ministry ‘Open Grounds Café’ providing training and work experience for those with a mental health condition and/or learning disability.

It’s definitely a church that goes the ‘extra mile’ to include disabled people.