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Christian disability charity champions inclusion at festival

Disabled and marginalised people were given a platform at the Greenbelt Festival this year, helped by national Christian disability charity Livability ...

This year’s Greenbelt festival proved a real success for national Christian disability charity Livability, who for the first time, sponsored a venue for a range of seminars and debates around inclusion and diversity; with a particular focus on how churches can become more welcoming and accessible places for people with disabilities.
 
In the past Livability, a partner of Greenbelt, provided practical support to enable those with mobility issues, or hearing difficulties to enjoy the festival. This year marked a significant departure with the charity focusing on inclusion – giving a platform to disabled and other marginalised people so that Greenbelt could hear their voices.
 
Over 3,000 people attended talks, debates, quizzes and live music in the Living Room, the venue sponsored by Livability.  Topics included Autism, Asperger’s and the Church and the Paralympic legacy. The charity also organised a range of sessions covering issues related to their popular community engagement programmes such as Dementia Friendly Churches and The Happiness Course – which focuses on well-being.
 
The decision to deliver a wide range of talks around inclusion and disability, beyond providing practical support, coincides with the launch of the charity’s new campaign: Churches Inc (www.churchesinc.org.uk ). The campaign, organised in partnership with Premier Christian Radio and Through the Roof, aims to encourage individuals and churches to sign up to the charter and for churches to become more proactive in welcoming people with disabilities.

Adam Bonner, Director of Community Mission at Livability said: “This year‘s Greenbelt provided a fantastic opportunity for greater levels of engagement with a wide range of people who, like us, have social inclusion and equality at heart.

"Our decision to host a range of workshops and seminars has enabled us to move beyond the simplistic concept of accessibility i.e. practical support, to explore some of the broader issues around disability and social inclusion at a time when this issue is particularly pertinent – exactly a year on from the Paralympics.

"Despite the positive impact of the Paralympics raising awareness of this agenda, the reality is that disabled people remain some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our communities. We believe that the Church has a key role to play to combat the poverty and isolation that many disabled people. Our Churches Inc charter invites churches and their congregations to be proactive in welcoming disabled people and challenging barriers to inclusion.”
 

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