Will we need blue badges in paradise?

By Jonathan Bartley
August 24, 2012

Along with a couple of colleagues from Ekklesia I'll be at the Greenbelt Festival this weekend (which Mark Thomas says is his favourite alongside Glastonbury).

Simon Barrow will be helping to put the fair back into welfare, Symon Hill will be interviewing Peter Tatchell, we'll be part of the work being done by the Network of Christian Peace Organisations (NCPO) and I'll be taking part in a panel on Saturday organised by Livibility.

For the past three years, Livability has been a festival sponsor, concentrating on making the event accessible for disabled people. The theme of this year’s Greenbelt festival is ‘Saving Paradise’, and the panel I am on will be exploring issues of disability in response to the question: ‘Will I need a blue badge in Paradise?’.

The topic emerged out of a conversation with someone who who told Livibility ‘I hope my son still has Asperger’s in Heaven, otherwise I won’t know him’. The single comment led their thoughts in many directions; issues of disability and identity, of healing, of what constitutes ‘normality’ or ‘perfection’.

Most people should recognise the oppression that some churches have been responsible for in their practices in this area, not to mention their theology, down the ages. Certainly, the disabled rights movement has been all too aware of it. So this will no doubt be an interesting session!

Panel members:

Dame Valerie Howarth (chair)

Baroness Howarth of Breckland has been a social worker, a director of social services and chief executive of Childline. President of Livability.

Cristiana Gangemi - Co-founder of the Kairos Forum for people with Intellectual or Cognitive Disabilities

John McCorkell - Works with schools to teach disability awareness to young people

Jonathan Smith - Paralympic hopeful (for 2016!)

Roy McCloughry - Communicator and academic, Roy is Vice-President of Livability and teaches ethics at St John’s Nottingham.

...and me !

If you are around at Greenbelt, the event is at 12.30 on Saturday.

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