Disability specialist says church can make people with disabilities feel lonely

Mon 20 Nov 2017
By Eno Adeogun

A Christian disability specialist has shared with Premier how attending church has at times made her feel lonely.

Fiona Gosden, 28, who has a very rare bone condition that affects her hands and legs, said has found it "challenging" dealing with congregants' assumptions about how she's handling her condition.

Speaking during Premier's News Hour she said: "Sometimes it might be that I want prayer for something else and then they notice my disability.

"It can get lonely in that they only see the disability."

Her comments echo a new study by disability charity Scope that found three-quarters of working age disabled people admitted experiencing loneliness in the 12 months to July.

It was even higher than that for 18 to 34-year-olds who have a disability and the charity put it down to things like underfunding in the social care system and the struggle to find a job.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at Scope, said: "Our new research has exposed the hidden reality of many disabled people's lives.

"We urge the Government to develop a cross-departmental disability strategy.

"They need to ensure that the investment we make in social care and benefits provides a decent standard of living for disabled people, rather than allowing loneliness and isolation to thrive."

Gosden told Premier God has helped her deal with loneliness.

She explained: "A year ago when I had a very challenging situation with my health, I really felt that God taught me how to depend entirely on him in my weakest moments.

"It's remembering that God's power is perfect in our weakness so I've actually found that I've felt closer to God during my suffering in the last year.

"God has taught me how to depend completely on him, rather than looking to other people for help - it's going to God first and that's really important.

Listen to Fiona Gosden speaking with Premier's Alex Williams:

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