Taking simple steps towards accessibility in Shrewbury

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.

Here Phil Ramsbotham, Jeremy Yarnell-Davies and Annette Goodall, from the Shrewsbury Roofbreaker network, share their reflections... 

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