Helping people with disabilities to participate fully in the life and worship of the church



The speaker at the CDF Annual General Meeting, to be held at St Edward's Church, Chandler's Ford on Wednesday, 21st November, will be Madeleine Durie, the chief executive of Minstead Trust which supports people with learning disabilities. The Trust runs Furzey Gardens in Minstead and in 2012 their garden, created by people with learning disabilities, won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. The meeting will start at 2 p.m. and tea/coffee/cakes will be served. Everybody welcome!



We are proud and delighted to announce that our long-time committee member, Eileen Rayner, has received a Benemarenti medal in acknowledgement of her many years of work for the Church, not only in the CDF but in many other capacities. For example: she has chaired her parish Catholic Women's League, organized the local   World Women's Day of Prayer, sent clothes and blankets to Mother Theresa's Sisters of Mercy in India, assisted in three pilgrimages to Lourdes, run a Brownie  group, raised money for the CDF, sung in her church choir, acted as extraordinary special minister and member of her PPC. These are only some of her activities over the years but enough to show how richly she deserves her award.   Congratulations Eileen!



What exactly is Caritas?

At our AGM on November 11th, Kevin Gallagher explained that Caritas is an agency for social action, running its own projects and also helping others to set up their own social action projects. It focuses on reaching out to the most vulnerable and those whose need is greatest.

Some of the projects already set up by Caritas Portsmouth include: Stella Maris (hospitality and pastoral care for seafarers); Insight Drop-in (a hot meal, activities and friendship for those feeling isolated, such as those with mental health problems or recovering from addiction); Love in Action (a program based on Catholic social teaching that aims to lead parishes towards setting up their own social action projects) and English for Immigrants, based in Reading.

Caritas is keen to hear from parishes that want to become more involved in social action or who already have ideas for projects. To learn more, you can contact Caritas at St Edmund House, Bishop Crispian Way, Portsmouth PO1 3QA or

Gail Williams, the second speaker at our meeting, told us about St Joseph's Centre in London which became a part of Caritas four years ago. Here, people with learning disabilities are enabled to practice their faith through personalized catechesis, active participation in the liturgy and integration into the parish community. Regular coffee clubs help to foster friendship, which is something that young people with learning difficulties often feel to be lacking in their lives. Every second year, St Joseph's takes more than 70 of the people they help to Lourdes.

Gail herself runs courses for adults with learning disabilities to train in arts and crafts and gain work experience. They also enjoy special Masses, discos and carol concerts. Two hundred and nine people are currently being helped in this way.

Gail has produced a useful book: "Symbols of Faith" which is a training course for people providing catechesis for young people with learning disabilities. It is available from St Joseph's Pastoral Centre, St Joseph's Grove, The Burroughs, Hendon, London NW4 4TY  Tel: 020 8202 3999.

Caritas, through its many activities, is indeed the 'Social Action Voice of the Catholic Church'.



To make sure that all our parish churches are disabled friendly, we have produced a new questionnaire for churches to use. Please order your free copies from




In his address at a recent Annual General Meeting, Fr Peter Hollins spoke about signs that reveal God's saving love. Jesus cures a blind man. He receives his sight and so much more that his sight that he becomes a follower. A woman taken in adultery is saved from the mob by Jesus. He does not condone her sin but shows her mercy, a kindness that reveals the mercy of God.

By his actions, Pope Francis also proclaims that the kingdom of God is close at hand. He visits the island of Lampedusa, greets refugees who have made the dangerous crossing and throws a wreath into the sea in memory of those who have died. His simple actions proclaim, through the media, his and God's concern for these people. In fact, Pope Francis greets, kisses and hugs those in prison, the disabled and frail with a genuine love for those who count for very little in this world. The television cameras carry these signs of God's love everywhere.

The Pope compares the Church to a field hospital in time of war. Healing people's wounds is urgent: it is not the time to criticise their way of life. He is concerned that Christians should not be rigid in their attitude, but reflect God's mercy. He called for a Year of Mercy. If our Christian service is genuine, it will also reveal that God is close at hand.




Fr Peter Hollins writes:

'In Portsmouth we have not been very good at supporting Catholics who are profoundly deaf. It seems that none of the priests in the Diocese can sign and there is little evidence of deaf people at parish masses.

I have done my best to learn about the profoundly deaf and come to realise that 'outsiders' cannot change things. This needs to be done by the deaf themselves. And so I am asking you to consider being part of a volunteer team of deaf people to serve the wider Diocese.

You can apply for an interview to do this by completing the application form (Framework for Collaboration) on the Portsmouth Diocesan website. If you would like to know more, please contact me at or on the Facebook page: Pastoral Care Services, Portsmouth Catholic Diocese.

Fr Paul Townsend has already agreed to make signing a priority with students for the priesthood and also to offer classes for existing priests . I know that this will take many years to bear fruit but it is important to make a start and I would like your help.'


                                             ACTION NEEDED!

Thanks to the CDF Committee, we now have someone to represent the disabled in almost  half the parishes in the diocese. They see that church buildings and church activities are all disability-friendly and help to make fellow parishioners disability-aware. However, there are still a number of parishes that we have not been able to reach and this is where you come in. Please would you check whether your parish has a disability representative and, if it has not and if you yourself are unable to volunteer, please approach your Parish Pastoral Council or parish priest and try to persuade them to appoint someone. This person's name and contact details should then be sent to Paula Medd, Catholic Disability Fellowship, 13 St Colman's Avenue, Cosham, Portsmouth PO6 2JJ, so that we can offer them help and advice.

We want every disabled Catholic, whether their disabilities are physical, sensory or mental, to be able to participate as fully as possible in the life and liturgy of their Church. You can help us make this happen. Thank you.



The Catholic Church Insurance Association has issued guidelines for parishes arranging a transport rota for lifts to Mass and other parish events with a checklist to be completed by both the provider and receiver of lifts. This may seem rather daunting but it is important to comply to ensure that the activity is covered by the diocesan insurance policy should anyone suffer an injury and make a claim.

You can obtain a copy of the guidelines from Margery Cumpsty. Her email address is

(Note: Informal lift arrangements between two people are exempted from the above).




Alzheimer's Dementia Support in Maidenhead provides stimulating and fun days out, with a light lunch for people in the early stages of dementia. At the same time, they provide a welcome break for carers. They meet each Tuesday - for 48 weeks of the year - At Bridge the Gap cafe, Boyn Grove Community Resource Centre between 10 and 10.30 a.m for a cup of tea or coffee before embarking on the day out, returning at around 3 p.m. 'Out and About' Service Coordinator, Sandra Williams, is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers and all hold enhanced Disclosure and Barring Checks. This popular service has now been launched in Windsor and volunteer drivers are needed.  For more information visit



Every church should have a wheelchair available in case somebody in the congregation needs it. If your church already has a wheelchair do you know where it is? Is it easily accessible (or do you have to find the key to the cupboard and then have to take half the stuff out of the cupboard in order to reach it)? Is it in good condition? Do you know how it works? Are the tyres pumped up? Is the seat canvas safe (not torn)? Is the back canvas intact? How many people know where it is kept? Can the place where it is kept be easily reached? The wheelchair does not have to be new but must be in good condition, full adult size, well maintained, accessible and easy to use.

You never know when you might have to use it.