How accessible is your church?

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oopsorganist
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How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:42 pm

Reading the thread titled Cardinal Sarah about which way the priest faces when saying Mass, I was thinking how silly it is to have any kind of fuss about such things if people cannot get into the church building. It made the discussion seem daft.

This is because I have been trying to find a church for a friend who is a self driven wheelchair user - as I don't fit in anywhere just now, it was a difficult thing to find somewhere to go.

So many Catholic churches are not accessible to disabled people. I know a lot are very friendly and there are lots with full facilities but looking through the ( ) Diocesan website for a church, indicated that many in the area are not accessible - so I did tally them up - 45 out of 120 parishes! I find this deeply shocking. There are others which have ramps for access but not full facilities ie toilets (there, lowered the tone of the forum yet again). Including these in the tally there are therefore 74 accessible parishes out of 120.

So it would not matter which way the priest was facing. "A church without disabled people is a disabled church". Don't know who said that but it fits.

I had a peek at other Dioceseseses but the information is not presented uniformly so maybe things are better or worse elsewhere. It was quite hard to tell although Westminster at a first peek seemed to be 100% accessible. Salford and Clifton etc have a map search for parishes which I dipped in but got tired of doing - however they did not seem to all be accessible. Not every parish mentions it - I just did some sampling - and I was thinking that if I were a wheel chair user I would just give up.

Anyway we did find somewhere to attend Mass although it was a struggle to access the building due to the incline of the slope there and the toilets were not OK - in fact not even OK for able bodied people, quite yeukky. The welcome was warm though and my friend had a fantastic time and really enjoyed it.

I suspect that this picture of particular diocesan inaccessibility is inaccurate and possibly due to website maintenance. And even this is really not acceptable. As one carer I was speaking to said "You should be able to get up on Sunday morning and say to yourself, I think I'll go down to that church today". She also wanted me to rattle it around and make a fuss, but I kind of don't have that kind of energy at the moment. So I thought I would bring it here for discussion. Please feel free to make me feel a lot better about what kind of things are going on in the Catholic church around the place, that involve inclusion and don't involve disputation about which way people are facing.

(Isn't it a good job that Jesus did not speak in Latin? Otherwise we would all be arguing about some basic things for all eternity. If I had any Latin I would be able to make a joke about this here.)

Is your church and parish accessible for Disabled people? Do you think it should be the norm?
uh oh!

alan29
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Location: Wirral

Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by alan29 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:21 pm

I thought the law was pretty clear that public buildings HAD to have access for disabled people.
Or are churches exempted from that too.
Of course there is a precedent for making a hole in the roof and ............ No, I'd better stop there.

helen rees
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Parish / Diocese: southwark

Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by helen rees » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:59 pm

I am proud to say that our Church in Dartford is very accessible with excellent wide doors and a properly fitted disabled toilet. The difficulty is that having got into the church there is really is nowhere where someone can sit in a wheelchair next to a companion with out blocking an aisle. When my mum visits we sit at the back of the church not part of the congregation or near the organ.

oopsorganist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:39 am

The law is clear
ish.
There is some grey about "reasonable" changes and some more grey about listed buildings. The onus would be on the individual or an organisation of some sort, to challenge the lack of disabled access. And a subtle answer might be - that x church has facilities, so go there. But that is not OK.

There is not grey in the application of gospel values though. Otherwise that Good Samaritan might have had to look around for accommodation - no access at the inn. :cry:
uh oh!

IncenseTom
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Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Leeds

Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by IncenseTom » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:27 pm

I think the Catholic church in Cottingley - St. Monica's if I remember - is fairly accessible. It's modern with no steps or narrow aisles etc as far as I'm aware. It might be a bit far for you, though - on the edge of Bingley.

oopsorganist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:38 pm

Well bless you Incense Tom. Bless.

It's not inclusion, is it, though?
uh oh!

oopsorganist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:00 am

Here is some guidance that I have found googling around. I googled around instead of cyber throttling my friend Incense Tom. :lol:

www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resources/Prep ... erence.pdf

www.cbcew.org.uk/content/download/53039 ... e-2014.pdf
uh oh!

High Peak
Posts: 150
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Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Nottingham
Location: Derbyshire

Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by High Peak » Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:41 am

oopsorganist wrote:Here is some guidance that I have found googling around. I googled around instead of cyber throttling my friend Incense Tom. :lol:

http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resourc ... erence.pdf

http://www.cbcew.org.uk/content/downloa ... e-2014.pdf


The second link doesn't seem to work.

oopsorganist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:14 pm

The second link was the document from the Bishop's Conference 2014.

http://www.cbcew.org.uk/content/downloa ... e-2014.pdf


Applying Equality Law in Practice - Catholic Bishop's Conference of 2014
is what came up when I googled "Catholic Bishop's Conference Disability Legislation"
uh oh!

oopsorganist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:06 pm

uh oh!

oopsorganist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:35 pm

That link leads to unavailable screen. Ho hum.
uh oh!

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FrGareth
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by FrGareth » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:31 pm

The key concept with "reasonable adjustments" is what is reasonable.

At seminary, we were taught that one of the relevant criteria is how the cost of making disabled adaptations compares to the funds available for maintenance and actually spent on maintenance. If a church has not enough money to, say, paint the (not too high) walls at all during the next 10 years then it's reasonable to say it can't afford to install a ramp or a disabled loo. On the other hand, if it can afford to buy a luxurious set of expensive vestments in addition to a usable daily set, it is reasonably expected to make adaptations in a similar price range.
><>
Revd Gareth Leyshon - Priest of the Archdiocese of Cardiff (views are my own)
Personal website: http://www.garethleyshon.info
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oopsorganist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by oopsorganist » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:44 am

Two issues pop up with the "reasonable " thing.

One is that if a parish with an inaccessible church has a school - it is likely that the school will have disabled facilities. Hopefully that will not mean that families are in school - who cannot attend Mass at the parish church.

The second is that there is a higher chance that a poorer parish will have more parishioners who have disabilities. Families with children who have disabilities tend to be "hard- pressed". People in hard - pressed areas have more ill health. So the argument that is would be unreasonable to adapt a church because of financial pressure on the parish is therefore a problem. The population is also ageing so leaving some parishes with an older congregation who might be more likely to have more need of access changes and less power to implement them.

No diocese can advertise the fact that there are churches in their diocese without disabled facilities. That would be bad policy for them. It is probably best to not go there. There is little reason to flag the issue up if the result would be a statement that is not pro disability. Glancing at a few parish websites nationally suggests that where parishes do not have facilities they are best not advertising the fact.

Diocese ( ) has churches which are not rated on the website as accessible which, in fact, are accessible. While it is not up do date with information it does at least offer the information in a way that such information can be seen. By doing so, that diocese engages with the issue. So that is positive.

In an age of decreasing church attendance to have a church with lack of access is a big problem. It's the sort of thing that puts people off. It isn't just about wheel chair users and other disabled people. It is about anybody that has ever met a wheel chair user or disabled person.

I wonder if it alters what hymns and songs a parish can sing? Bind us together within reason?
uh oh!

organist
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by organist » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:06 pm

Westminster cathedral has ramps up to the front but if the middle doors are closed for Mass one might have trouble getting through the side doors. The same applies to getting through the doors to the toilets. The Anglican church where I now play is dreadul. Steps up from the road, steps into the porch and main door. Toilets across the road in the hall and down stairs and not suitable for a wheelchair. There is alleged to be a disabled entrance through the vestry but there are tricky levels there too! Add to that steps up to the altar!

JW
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Re: How accessible is your church?

Post by JW » Sat Jul 16, 2016 2:53 pm

If you can't afford to put in basic facilities, then you should seriously think about closing the church. To my mind, if a church doesn't have 100 wage earners or pensioners prepared to give 1% of their income, then it just isn't viable. The UK has one of the biggest church to people ratios in the world and it's unsustainable.

I know of one inner city church where the only toilet is in the presbytery. At a recent wedding, the housekeeper refused to allow guests to use the toilet. Her reply to a comment from Mrs JW was "they're adults". She looked even sourer when we told her that we had sent guests to the school next door.


The facilities in a church contribute to evangelisation. We shouldn't be giving the message that certain people aren't welcome.
JW

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