For Disability Awareness Month, we asked one of our Deputies, Annabelle Daiches from Alyth Synagogue to share her experiences as an activist for disability rights, and a service user, about her experiences of being a member of the Alyth Community.
I’m one of four deputies from Alyth Gardens Synagogue. My blog is about inclusion for people with disability, both physical and mental, into our faith community and my subjective experience. The community really is extended family who can be reached when things are difficult. There are small and special services for those undergoing mental health challenges, and life cycle events.
For those who have mental health difficulties to those with severe and enduring mental health problems, there are always things that can be done by staff and volunteers.
The community hold monthly Friday night dinners with members of Jami and the Shalom Centre. There are regular events for the elderly and those with dementia can continue to be encouraged to attend all the events run by the synagogue. Transport is arranged with the Alyth minibus.
The Monday Club is run as a focus for the members with learning disabilities and visitors for everyone to socialise and participate in an activity run by volunteers.
With regard to spiritual life, I was especially proud of Alyth when a girl with cerebral palsy who had no useful movement in all four limbs and found it very difficult to talk was able to do her Batmitzvah. She did the blessings and her composed Batmitzvah prayer by eye pointing. Also, the Barmitzvah of a boy with autism was another cherished moment for inclusion into the Jewish community for that young man who read Torah for the first time.
Whether it be taking Alyth to a residential home to run Shabbat services or singing for pleasure, the Alyth team enhance lives practically as well as spiritually, and as members of the Reform Movement support wellbeing.
Some who are passionate about advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves stand up for those who are detained under the mental health act while simple things like mental health first aid are important in our community.
The rabbinic team and their understanding and support are central to the ethos at Alyth as an example of good practise in my view, for mental health Shabbat and disability month, and throughout the year.
May they continue to support those in the community with disability who gain much from there help and inclusion.
Photo: Annabelle Daiches with her husband, Michael