We believe that our church community is only whole when all are truly included. So it’s vital our church buildings, activities, and approaches are accessible to people with physical or sensory impairment, learning disabilities, mental health issues, autism and other hidden disabilities. We wish to provide the same opportunities for everyone.
The Church of England is committed to diversity and the Archbishops’ Council, which sets the strategic goals for the Church of England, includes disability as one of the key areas, aiming to increase the welcome and participation of disabled people:
Barrier-free belonging | Weblink
We want to be an enabling rather than a disabling church and we are increasingly asking the question, how can we enable disabled people to be at the heart of our communities, explore their vocation and realise their gifts?
Welcoming people with Dementia into church by All Saints' Church in Laxfield
All Saints' Church in Laxfield held a dementia awareness training session to raise awareness of dementia and to explore how the church can better support those affected in their local community – whether they are carers, family members or those living with the condition. And now, following the training, All Saints' are hoping to start a regular morning drop-in at one of their village pubs.
The training session was run by the Alzheimer’s Society who report that 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia and the overall number of people in the UK with dementia is set to almost double by 2040, making it an increasing issue that churches need to be equipped to respond to.
Liz Hammond, an Elder at the church, says “We had a very encouraging response from the village – with about half of our course attendees not being regular church-attenders – and also from Laxfield Co-op who donated the refreshments, and were represented on the course. We now have a greater insight and can come alongside people living with dementia better....We will continue to talk with those we know affected by dementia about how we can support them better, and to think about the small steps we can take to make our church building more accessible.”
Dementia Friendly at St Edmundsbury Cathedral
The Cathedral marked Dementia-Friendly Sunday for the first time in May 2022 and has continued working towards being a more dementia-friendly place in the year that’s followed. To help the Cathedral become a better place to visit for those living with dementia, a working group has been formed. In the past 12 months they have consulted on projects to ensure inclusivity. New signage has been installed across the site that is dementia friendly and a list of small improvements have taken place, like new welcome mats to ensure comfort and safety. Dementia awareness training has also been provided for Cathedral staff and volunteers.
'Together on Tuesday' is a service for anyone who might find a longer service difficult, but still enjoys singing and praising God. This service is short, relaxed, and informal; people are encouraged to be as comfortable as possible and move around if needed. There is always coffee, cake, and a strong emphasis on fellowship and support, thanks to an experienced pastoral support team consisting of pastoral carers, nurses, and those experienced with dementia. Refreshments and cake are served after the service and attendance has grown throughout the last year. The Cathedral is now welcoming a regular worship group every month.
The Revd Canon Matthew Vernon, Canon Pastor and Sub-Dean at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, leads on the Dementia-Friendly project. He said, “We are an inclusive Cathedral, which means we believe all people are created equal by God and we aim to welcome and treat all people fairly, irrespective of age, disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief. Our work on becoming more dementia-friendly is an important part of being welcoming to all. What might seem like small changes to us, like adding icons to signs, makes a big difference to those living with dementia and we will continue to create a space at the Cathedral for everyone.”
Deaf church in Ipswich, Bury and Felixstowe, meets every Sunday via Zoom at 3.30pm. A recording of the service is available afterwards on the Facebook group which can be found here. There is also a Zoom coffee and chat once a fortnight on Thursdays at 2.30pm.
For more information please contact The Revd Penny Brinkley:
Tel: 079019 50768 (via text only) | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Go Sign a website for people who are deaf or who have hearing difficulties. It has resources and information about the Christian faith, events, churches and training to support Deaf people and others who use British Sign Language.
Sight Loss Friendly Church Tasters
Sight Loss Friendly Church (SLFC) from Torch Trust, the UK Christian sight loss charity, offer courses to give churches the opportunity to include people with sight loss in every aspect of church life. You can join their network of churches to access training, advice, resources and to be added to their sight loss friendly church finder. Best of all, it’s all free of charge! To find out more and register please visit here or for more information please email SLFC@torchtrust.org.uk
If you are looking for resources to help you make your church more welcoming please visit our website section:
Inclusion and Disability | Weblink
Wheelchair accessibility in St Mary's Walton