In the Diocese of Liverpool, we celebrate the inclusion, contribution, and ministry of disabled people, acknowledging that the church community is only complete when all are welcome, and the partnership that should exist between disabled people and those who are non-disabled.
We all must remember a disability can present itself in a range of forms, from a physical impairment to a mental or learning disability and that disability is often invisible. However, the way in which one defines or characterises a disability is open for debate, what one individual views as a disability, may not necessarily hold true for other individuals with a similar impairment.
As a church, we recognise that we have not always been as inclusive and welcoming as we should be. We acknowledge that disabled people have often faced barriers to belonging and participation that have devalued them and their gifts. But, within our Vision, the diocese is making a new commitment to diversity and inclusion and seeking to be a church in which all people feel they can belong as unique and valued children of God. This of course also fits with our keen work for Justice in all things.
Diocesan Disability Advisory and Support Groups
The Disability Advisory Group and the Disability Support Group are both chaired by Rev Laura Leatherbarrow, the Diocesan Disability Advisor. Laura currently serves as a parish priest at St Cuthbert’s Church in Croxteth Park.
The Disability Support Group is a safe space where we can talk about issues that are facing people with a disability in the Diocese. We bring issues from our own churches and this is a supportive place for people to listen and understand. The issues that have been raised in the Disability Support Group feed into the Disability Advisory Group.
The purpose of the Disability Advisory Group is to discuss the issues that have occurred in the Disability Support Group. Those in this advisory group ultimately advise the Bishop and provide recommendations about how the Diocese can tackle and address the issues that disabled people are facing.
Through these groups, we aim to support parishes, deaneries, and the Diocese in ensuring that our buildings, activities, and services are welcoming and accessible for people with a disability. This work includes mentoring, disability access audits for churches; disability awareness sessions for parish or deanery groups; other forms of training, and individual advice to parishes on disability issues.
If you would like to know more about this work or if you would like to join the Disability Support Group, please contact Laura Leatherbarrow: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, please contact Merab Gill: email@example.com.