The DDAG is chaired by Rev Laura Leatherbarrow in her new role as ‘Diocesan Disability advisor (DDA).’ Laura has been ordained for 8 years, and currently serves as a parish priest at St Cuthbert’s Church in Croxteth park, within the West Derby Deanery and is working as the DDA for 1 day a week, (the hours spread across the week)
Laura is working to encourage all churches in the diocese to explore how they might be more open to the presence and participation of disabled people and to see a greater representation of disability amongst parish clergy, senior staff and laity within our churches. Laura has a disability, both hidden and now due to needing a hip replacement and a severe back issue she is now on crutches and has lived experience of the challenges people with a disability face
Laura says: “ In the DDAG meetings; which all can join who have a disability, are a carer for person with disability or who have worked to improve disability access in working lives. The aim is to open our churches to ‘every person’ and we know this is a significant challenge that requires the reimagining of space, worship and belonging in a way that eradicates the ‘them and us’ culture created by the word ‘disability,’ and brings all people together in an experience of fellowship that cuts through the barriers that society imposes on so many that it calls ‘disabled.’ I hope and pray that we can all work together to see the churches in Liverpool Diocese live up to this vision and break open the unrecognised gifts and talents of so many who are currently marginalised and unrecognised within the church and across our Diocese and society at large. I also hope Fit for Mission will help in this, ensuring we become the bigger church of the future with all included and that there is a real drive for a more inclusive church.”
As well as being updated about what the church is doing nationally for people with a disability, we bring issues from our own churches, carry out audits when required and everyones skills and talents are noted so that this becomes a fantastic resource for information when it’s needed by the churches in our diocese. We also have a time of thinking about the theology of disability, and we are currently going to be working through John Beauchamp’s Disability course from London so that we can take that learning out into the churches that we belong hopefully improving the Church experiences for all. The DDAG is also a safe space where you can ‘tell it how it is’ and so is also a supportive place for people to belong to and more importantly who listen and understand.
Get in touch
If you would like to raise issues about disability, including your experiences of church as a person with a disability, or ask about how your church can start a journey towards being more inclusive and welcoming, you can contact Laura