On Saturday 10th March, London’s St Paul’s Cathedral threw open its doors for its annual Disability Access Day. One of the most famous churches in the world, St Paul’s invited disabled people to come and explore their historic building and to join in their cycle of prayer and worship. The sights and sounds of the cathedral can be overwhelming, so the day began with a quiet hour, aimed at people living with autism.
Later in the day there were touch-tours for blind people, a BSL interpreted Eucharist, and many activities to help people engage with the church. The most popular was certainly the dressing up stall, where children and adults could dress as priests, bishops and even St Paul’s architect Sir Christopher Wren. It was fantastic to see so many disabled people really made to feel welcome.
Livability’s Mat Ray helped advise St Paul’s as they planned the day. And on Saturday he was at the Livability stall showing the new Accessible Bible, with large print which proved especially popular with older members of St Paul’s clergy. Charlotte Overton-Hart – a Livability Associate working with the charity on dementia inclusive church – ran a popular craft activity, show-casing how creativity can help everyone better engage with church– regardless of age or ability.
Mat says “The day was great fun and what stood out was the impact of a wonderful welcoming attitude. It wasn’t expensive building adaptations or equipment that made people feel welcome, it was the attitude of church staff and volunteers. Being welcomed by big smiles, with patience, and a can-do attitude made everyone feel that they were wanted.”
Livability believes that churches have a crucial role to play in breaking down the barriers that disable people and stop them playing a full part in their community.
If you would like to talk to us about how your church could welcome disabled people, please call 020 4520 2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org