15 December 2017

Disabled Christian Fellowship Ireland

Beginnings

Disabled Christian Fellowship Ireland (DCFI) is an interdenominational, evangelical charity working with people with various physical disabilities, visual/sensory impairment and mild learning difficulties.

DCF began in England in 1959. In July 1964 the first Committee was formed in Northern Ireland and a branch set up in East Belfast. The fellowship is now a separate Trust for Northern Ireland known as Disabled Christians’ Fellowship Ireland (DCFI).

Reaching out

Our outreach consists of the monthly fellowship rallies held in 23 venues across Northern Ireland on a Saturday afternoon between September and June each year and respite care or private holidays in our purpose built residential home, Lawnfield House, in Newcastle, Co. Down.

Monthly rallies

These rallies enable people from a variety of backgrounds and with various forms and degree of disability to meet for fellowship and friendship. The rally includes a guest speaker and singer(s), perhaps a quiz or a relevant DVD presentation and most importantly, a wee cup of tea!!

Our rallies are facilitated by wheelchair transport provided by a range of organisations including, in some localities, Health and Social Care Trusts.

Our recent survey showed we have about 1,100 members and 390 voluntary helpers. Our helpers span all age groups and some have been involved with DCFI for 30 years or more.

While shopping in Saintfield, Sara spotted a poster about Saintfield DCFI Branch and asked her friend Elizabeth to go with her. Sara said she could not have been made more welcome, she enjoyed meeting new people, listening to the speaker and of course, being with Elizabeth, her friend. Elizabeth said she has been disabled for about 5 years and while most of the people she met are older than herself and Sara, it was enjoyable and good to meet and speak to other disabled persons, “It is a brilliant idea. The DCF gives the disabled something to do, to go to and enjoy.”

A Home from Home

Nestled under the scenic beauty of the Mournes sits Lawnfield House, opened in May 1993. Lawnfield House is registered with the authorities in Northern Ireland to provide residential care and we offer respite care (including breaks carers may share) and private holidays for persons who require various categories of care or for those who are self-caring. Our home is managed by Sabrena and Matt Keenan with a team of dedicated care staff, cooks and housekeepers.

Many of our residents come to Lawnfield House for respite care funded by their local health trust. However, we also have residents who come on a private basis. The price for accommodation will depend on the length of stay and level of care (if any) required.

Our home operates on a full board basis for 9 months of the year (March to November). We will consider making the facilities available to outside groups for weekends in March and November.

We have 16 bedrooms made up of 11 en suite rooms (most rooms can be shared by a carer for example). The other 5 rooms are generally set aside to meet the specific needs of residents requiring a higher level of care.

We seek to provide a varied programme that will help our residents enjoy their stay, stimulate their interest and give spiritual ‘food for thought’ as God’s Word is shared. We do this by arranging outings, inviting guest speakers and singers, and playing games. In pleasant sunny weather the lovely patio is a great spot to catch the sun and gives a picturesque view of the mountains. This effort to reach out to the social, physical and spiritual well-being of our residents is our whole person approach. The rationale for this approach is taken from the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel to the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be made whole?”

Rally locations:-

1st Saturday 

Armagh, Ballyclare, Ballymena, Banbridge, Belfast (north), Finaghy, Saintfield

2nd Saturday

Coleraine, Larne, Lisburn, Lurgan, Mid-Ulster, Newtownabbey, Omagh

3rd Saturday

Bangor, Belfast (south), Carrickfergus, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Foyle, Newcastle,

Portadown

4th (or last Saturday)

Belfast (east)

Please telephone our Hon. Secretary, Mrs Margaret Russell (028) 97533970 for details of the person to contact. If you have internet access please visit our website www.dcfireland.co.uk. We are always glad to welcome new members. If you feel you could help as a volunteer we’d be glad to hear from you. We would be happy to consider a deputation visit to your church fellowship community group etc. to help you learn about our work or consider starting up a new branch.