Taking simple steps towards accessibility in Shrewbury
Earlier this month, Shrewsbury Roofbreakers joined the Revd Zoe Heming from 'Enabling All' to discuss simple first steps that churches of all denominations can take towards becoming more accessible to disabled people.
Promoting empathy and understanding
Phil shared; “Alongside the talk given by Zoe, Roofbreakers participated in short exercises during the evening and contributed to discussions on a wide range of topics. These included personal experiences of disability, church during lock-down, perceptions of disability in society and the fact that disability is part of being human.”
Phil added “We also really enjoyed the opportunity to meet together for a light meal in person to socialise prior to the event!”
Jeremy explained an exercise: ‘Zoe circulated sealed envelopes to everyone in the group. (She told us later that each envelope contained details of what it is like to live with one of four named disabilities.)
Zoe asked us to think for a couple of minutes about what it might be like to get ready to go to Church, if we ourselves were living with one of the four named disabilities. Zoe asked each of us to come up with one word to describe how this might feel for us. [We then] shared our individual words. The words included "painful", "exhausting", "embarrassing". It was, for me, a very powerful exercise’.
Acceptance and Honesty
Another significant take-away for the team was the importance of coming to accept disability both personally and collectively; creating a culture where people are free to be honest about their disability and its implications for them.
Annette reflected; ‘one needs to accept disability as the norm without discrimination. All people still have the strength, heart, soul and mind to love God’
One small step for church is a big leap forward for disability access!
Jeremy added ‘If we were unable to do a certain thing in Church, for example provide a ramp, [we were encouraged] not to let this deter us from doing other things. That is, doing something - however limited - is always better than doing nothing’.
Exciting next steps and resources: Disability Awareness Sunday and Enabling All
During the evening, Zoe promoted the Enabling All Awards in the Diocese of Lichfield. These cover phases of training (embarking), goal setting (embedding) and recognition through an award scheme for positive disability inclusion both within the church and the community. Find out more here: https://www.lichfield.anglican.org/enabling-all--enabling-all-awards.php
Phil reflected “At the end of the evening, two Roofbreakers went away with the exciting prospect of suggesting to their church that they implement the Enabling All steps alongside participating in Through the Roof’s Disability Awareness Sunday in September.”
Find out more about Disability Awareness Sunday by following this link: “I feel alive! Valued for the disabled person I am" - Celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday - Through the Roof
With thanks to Phil Ramsbotham and the Shrewsbury Roofbreaker Network
“I feel alive! Valued for the disabled person I am" - Celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday
Disability Awareness Sunday
Let’s celebrate it in every church!
“I feel alive! Valued for the disabled person I am. At last, I feel that I am in a space where I can grow as the person God made.” This is what Sarah said about her sense of belonging at her church. She continued:
“They have accepted me for me (without the ‘what’s wrong with you’ conversation!). They have encouraged me to use my gifts, attend training, develop prayer resources; to dare to look at possibilities.”
Could your church do more to include disabled people and raise awareness?
Through the Roof invites you to mark Disability Awareness Sunday on a day of your choice. We've prepared Disability Awareness Sunday packs on two different topics - follow this link to request your pack.
This is a gospel issue:
- The last recorded survey suggests 90–95% of disabled people have never heard the gospel (Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation, 2004).
- In the UK there are 14.6 million disabled people who need to know churches are supportive places, sharing God’s love (Family Resources Survey, 2021).
- Raise awareness and join Through the Roof to help ensure disabled people can fully belong and contribute as equal members of God’s family.
“Sarah snuffs out exclusion in her church” (Luke 5 Award)
We’re delighted to present a Luke 5 Award for inclusion to Angela Yeoman and Carolyn Cast, churchwardens of Wiggenhall St Germans Parish Church, Norfolk.
They were nominated by Sarah Best, who says, “I have Down’s Syndrome and severe hearing loss… as I do things slowly people don’t always know how to talk to me, or don’t know it’s ok to wait for me to reply before asking another question, so I overload and can’t reply. I felt excluded because everyone had a job, and I didn’t even though I wanted to help.”
What made a difference for Sarah?
“Angie and Carolyn asked me if there was anything I would like to do as they wanted to include me. I am the ‘chief snuffer’, I snuff out the candles after the service. I also read the lesson sometimes, I like to do this. I am also part of the washing up team, we have a lot of fun while doing jobs”
“I am happy because I am helping and I feel part of a team.”
Sarah’s mum Lesley says, “Sarah enjoys being part of the life of the church. She is welcomed with enthusiasm by the church members, others have taken Angie and Carolyn’s lead and are very supportive. Sarah always has a big smile on her face when she is included”
Sarah and Lesley decided to nominate Angie and Carolyn for the Luke 5 award because “we want to say thank you publicly and also to be able to display the award so others will know we value the time and effort that is put into giving Sarah the opportunities she has been given and for future opportunities.”
'Let's Celebrate. Through the Roof is 25!' -- The Summer 2022 Vital Link Newsletter
Welcome to the Summer 2022 edition of the Vital Link newsletter.
Download your copy to:
- Join in our 25th anniversary celebrations
- Discover a new Luke 5 Award recipient
- Meet new team members
- Learn about upcoming Wheels trips, and much more.
Please contact us on 01372 749955 (or email firstname.lastname@example.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...