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Annette Stuart is a Roofbreaker at the Countess Free Church, Ely. Below, she provides us with information about this important initiative.

What’s a Roofbreaker?

A Roofbreaker is a church disability champion, who chats to disabled or chronically ill people in the congregation about any barriers to them accessing church life, and feeling wholly part of the church community.

The Roofbreaker scheme is an initiative run by a Christian disability charity, Through the Roof (TTR). The name comes from the account of the paralysed man in Luke 5. Annette first heard about the charity through the Rich Tea Community Group, for adults with learning disabilities, that she helps with at Ely.

TTR wants all churches to catch the vision for disability inclusion. Below is some information about what they do, and why it matters.


Breaking down barriers for church disability inclusion

The last recorded survey suggests only 5-10% of disabled people hear the gospel in their lifetime (Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation).

In the UK it is estimated there are 16 million disabled people who do not benefit from God’s love through belonging to a church community. (Family Resources Survey, 2021-22). TTR is working with churches to ensure that everyone’s presence and gifts are valued.

One example is Laurie, who uses a wheelchair and an assistive device to communicate. Laurie’s church welcomed and encouraged him to take an active role in church life, which has been hugely beneficial. Laurie said, 'I am writing magazines, helping out with a special needs group, emailing prayers and talks of services and helping with social media'.

Everyone has unique God-given gifts to share.

Who are Through the Roof?

Members of Through the Roof are passionate about disability inclusion in Christian life. Their mission is to transform lives through Jesus with disabled people. For 25 years the charity has been:

Enabling Faith: Equipping churches and Roofbreakers (local disability champions) to empower disabled people to participate and belong in Christian life.

Bringing Freedom: ‘Wheels for the World’ provides wheelchairs and bibles for disabled people in developing nations where 90% of those needing a wheelchair do not have one.

Sharing Fellowship: Christian-focused accessible holidays, retreats and groups bring fun and friendships for everyone. Through the Roof provides free resources, training and support to local churches to fulfil the great commission to – and through – disabled people.

The Roofbreaker project equips volunteers in local churches and ministries to act as disability champions – listening and responding to the challenges disabled people face, enabling them to use their gifts and talents to serve as equal members of Christ’s body: the church.

Are churches fully including disabled people - and disability aware?

In the UK, over 20% of the population are disabled people (Family Resources Survey, 2021-22).

Not all disabilities are visible, but disabled people are still underrepresented in UK churches – especially in positions of responsibility.

Fiona MacMillan, disability advisor in the Church of England and herself a disabled person, says, ‘We are more likely to be known by our needs than celebrated for our gifts’.

Through the roof can help your church or ministry to welcome and value disabled people more fully

They offer:

Free two hour Zoom Disability Awareness workshop for churches who appoint a disability champion or Roofbreaker.

Access to a free downloadable ‘Church Toolkit’ and ‘Removing Barriers' church accessibility audit, available to all Roofbreaker disability champions.

50% discount on Through the Roof resources to all church Roofbreaker champions.

Advice and support from one of three Regional Roofbreaker Co-ordinators covering the whole of the UK, to encourage disability inclusion in all churches.

Support through monthly emails, events, Facebook and Roofbreaker Networks.


For more information visit the Through the Roof website or check out @TTRChangesLives on social media.