Access, Facilities and Resources for Disabled People and all with Special Needs in the Sacred Heart Parish

Our vision commits us to respond to persons with disabilities so that all may participate fully in the life of the Church community. We are continuously looking for ways to improve further and enhance the facilities and services we provide.

Our site and situation on Edge Hill with its 1:10 slope present enormous challenges to the disabled and to our commitment to aid them and provide access for all. Despite the real difficulties we have a clear aim nonetheless to create enabling and inclusive environments, welcoming to parishioners of every kind and age.


All external steps and stairs together with the new ramped access to the church are equipped with stout metal hand rails to assist those who need them. In addition there are clearly designated parking spaces for people with disabilities nearest to the access points in the church car park which surrounds the adjacent parish halls. Parking for disabled persons is also available in the Church forecourt.

Vehicular entrance into the Car Park serving the Church and Halls is clearly signposted. A one way system is in operation within it.

The Parish provides 3 wheelchairs for use within the Precincts of both Church and Halls. To ensure availability, they can be booked in advance by contacting the Reception. Staff in the Reception and the Site Manager will also assist with all planning and enquiries so please always let them know your needs if possible before the event.


Worshippers in wheelchairs are very welcome. A new and attractive ramped access direct to the entrance lobby of our listed church was completed several years ago and has been warmly received. The new entrance from the forecourt to the side of the lobby has an automatic sliding door and the lobby floor has been re-tiled. At the same time the partitioning within the lobby has been revised and a new toilet for disabled people installed which also provides changing facilities for parents with young children.

The layout of benches at the front of the nave has been revised to provide space for wheelchair users and, with a one step change of level, a short internal ramp has been provided to allow access to the sacristy and to the ambulatory around the sanctuary which also accesses the rear altars. And current plans to renovate the church floor will further improve this facility.

Additionally there is a further short ramp which allows for external wheelchair access up the step to the outer sacristy door around the north side path.


Extensive new facilities have now been provided to help all wheel chair users and other disabled people. There is a clearly designated setting down space for people with disabilities next to the podium outside the main entrance of the Upper Hall. The podium makes possible Access on the level for wheelchair users and others to the first reception level within the hall itself.

A short stair lift takes the wheelchair up the six steps to the auditorium itself and also provides a seat for ambulant disabled people. The stair lift should be operated by trained persons only. Please ask for assistance at the Reception. Advanced notice for the use of the stair lift is very helpful.


A clearly marked ramp running from the setting down space adjacent to the podium outside the Upper Hall leads down to the Youth Meeting Room. This allows access for wheelchairs and ambulant users alike.


The same ramp running from the setting down space adjacent to the podium outside the Upper Hall leading to the Youth Meeting Room, continues on down to give access also to the Parish Lounge. Entry to the Lounge is then via an external automatic door controlled for security reasons through a call entry system operated from the Reception. Push the call button to speak to the receptionist who will then open the door. This gives access to a small entrance lobby and through another automatic door easily operated by a large, clearly marked push switch, to the lounge itself.

The setting down space adjacent to the podium outside the Upper Hall also now provides an alternative and much improved way into the Reception and Presbytery via a level pathway to the left and above the ramp leading to the Lounge. For security reasons entry is controlled through a call system and the door is not automatic but staff from the Reception will be there to help. Push the call button at the entry point to contact them.


There are two disabled car spaces outside the Lower Hall. These are normally available to entitled users on a first come, first served basis, but for special functions can be booked in advance. Mobile ramps will shortly be available to ease access over the short steps up to the Lower Hall. Please ask for assistance in advance.


There are five toilets within the Church and Halls specifically designed for the use of disabled people. These are located in: the Church Porch; the Lower Hall; Parish Lounge; Upper Hall; and the entrance lobby of the Youth Meeting Room. Access in all cases is firm and level with no steps. The following additional points are also relevant:

  • They are unisex toilets and there is no need for a key.
  • The door opens outwards and locks by a twist lock.
  • There is a monitored pull cord distress alarm call system positioned next to the toilet.
  • The hand dryer is 88 cm (2ft 10in) from the ground.
  • The basin is 76 cm (2ft 6in) from the ground and has lever taps.
  • The toilet seat is 48cm (1ft 6in) above floor level.
  • There are grab rails, wall-mounted and drop-down rails.
  • There are separate baby change facilities in the disabled toilets at the Church and Lower Hall.


    Operating hours are normally 09.00-19.30 hours Monday – Friday and 09.00- 14.00 hours Saturday and Sunday. The Reception is closed on Bank Holidays. Contact: Reception 020 8946 0305 Fax: 020 8946 9130 e-mail: wimparish@gmail.comor on the church website.


    • All buildings are clearly sign posted.
    • Large print visitor information leaflets and/or further assistance are available from the Reception.
    • There are loop systems effective throughout the church and halls for the hard of hearing. Hearing aid users should switch their aid to the T position.
    • All Parish buildings are non-smoking areas.
    • Assistance guide dogs are welcome and can be provided with water on request.

    Because of the slope of the hill the difference between the lowest level of the car park and the church forecourt, which has very restricted vehicle access, is over 2 metres and there is no link between the two without steps, except via the steep road pavement. So following suggestions from one of our parishioners we hope to extend the bank separating the two levels, incorporate within it a new curved path correctly graded to suit disabled and wheelchair users and improve the whole area with fresh landscaping. This new approach will be subject to formal approval but preliminary soundings suggest that it will be warmly received. We will therefore be developing the proposals further as and when funding and other priorities allow.

    Where possible - but not everywhere - steps have white markings and/or handrails are provided.

    There are benches outside the main entrance to the Church.

    There are currently no braille or tactile markings on signage in precincts or Church.


    • Large print copies of the weekly Newsletter, and Orders of Service are usually available at Sunday Mass; please ask the Welcomers on arrival.
    • The Parish website offers a facility to increase the size of text and offers downloadable ‘Visitor Information’ as well as ‘Facilities for the Disabled’ leaflets.
    • The ‘Facilities for Disabled’ leaflet is also available from the Reception.

    Members of the parish work closely with the Southwark Chaplaincy for the Deaf to explore ways of meeting the needs of Catholic hearing impaired people in south London. Deaf Awareness Days have been held in the parish. A Sign Language Course which aims to encourage communication between deaf and hearing people was held in the parish. Some of those who took part in the course continue to support the Chaplaincy to the Deaf. The Parish Priest or his deputy signs the Mass at 4 p.m. on the Fourth Sunday of each month in the Wimbledon College Chapel. There is a social gathering after the signed Mass in the Parish Lounge. Once a month, in preparation for the Mass, the Pastoral Lay Assistant for the deaf and his assistant visit the parish to prepare for the Mass. The parish will continue to welcome members of the Signed Language community and will do more to publicise the Signed Mass in the wider Catholic community. The parish will also seek to encourage individuals to become proficient in sign language. On request the parish will provide through the Chaplaincy to the Deaf signing at other Masses in the Church.

    Please contact

    Service for Deaf & Hard of Hearing People Archdiocese of Southwark Parish Contacts: see Mass for the hard of hearing and for deaf people


    Parents of Children with Special Needs – Seek, Embrace, Befriend A group of parents of children who have special needs meets three or four times a year with friends and other members of the community and the parish priest. This is a supportive group, exchanging ideas and information to enable us to help with the development of their children who so often remain hidden in our community. The group calls itself SEB – Seek, Embrace and Befriend the Disabled and their Families. Three times a year the Sunday Family Mass highlights the needs of this group and provides opportunities for the wider parish to become acquainted with the children and their families. We include children with disabilities in the celebration of the Liturgy. We provide the opportunity for parents and siblings to talk on disability issues to the parish community and raise awareness of their needs and desires. This has helped the parish become aware of the anguish and trauma of having a disabled loved one in the family. During the Mass we have asked those present to pledge to befriend a family with a child with disabilities. The response has been excellent and many wonderful relationships have developed as a result. At each Mass we highlight a particular child with special needs and invite him or her to come forward to receive special recognition and an award from the parish community for his or her endeavour and courage. After the Mass there is a celebration in the hall involving the children and their families. At this celebration we have a display of photographs which tell the story of the particular child highlighted during the Mass. Recently and very happily the Archbishop conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on one of the children in the family home since it was not possible for him to come to the larger celebration in the church. This same group provides a companion ministry for families and individuals experiencing disabilities and is available to assist parents of disabled new-born. The group has had quite a dramatic effect on the life of the whole parish community. Once a month the parents of children with disabilities or learning difficulty are invited to meet to chat over a glass of wine, to exchange news and support each other. For more information, to offer support or to join the group please go to "Group" and look for Seek, Embrace, Befriend (SEB) Other Programmes for Children and Young People with Disabilities and Learning Difficulties Arrangements are made to help children with learning difficulties in our catechetical programmes and we do our best to integrate such children into these programmes. Children with learning difficulties take a full part in our First Holy Communion and Confirmation programmes. One-to-one personal support is available to children when required. In dealing with children and young people with learning difficulties and disabilities we try to take seriously the Southwark Youth Guidelines. “The needs of young people with disabilities deserve particular mention. For their full participation, an attitude, as well as an approach of inclusion has to be fostered. This attitude will result in needs of young people with disabilities being at the heart of any planning rather than something which is ‘added on’ to an already designed meeting or activity.”


    A group of adults with mental health difficulties and/or learning difficulties meets each Thursday for prayer and tea. This is a Lectio Divina Group which prays through the following Sunday’s gospel. Once every six weeks or so the group also goes out together for the day. This provides a companion ministry so that others in the parish can journey with persons less able than themselves by including them in prayer, social activities, conversation and generally offering friendship and if needed help with transportation. This is a warm, welcoming and life giving group. New members are welcome. For more information please go to "Groups" and look for Thursday Group contact


    The HCPT takes about 20 small family groups of voluntary helpers and special needs children to Lourdes each year. HCPT Group 35 is based in Wimbledon and welcomes 15 helpers and 10 children with special needs to join us over Easter Week. In addition to being prepared for anything ranging from song singing and children’s liturgies, to sports days and overseeing swimming away from Lourdes at St Jean de Luz beach, helpers need to be CRB checked (easy for most to arrange) have imagination, energy and lots of patience. Enquiries about voluntary helpers or children with special needs who wish to join Wimbledon’s HCPT Group 35 may contact: See HCPT under"Groups"

    Group Leader Jerry Hawthorne
    Group Doctor Lucy McDonnell


    This pilgrimage takes sick and disabled pilgrims to Lourdes in the latter part of September. They are accommodated in hospital and tended by our own doctors, nurses and helpers. Sick and helpers travel by air whilst a few of the younger helpers go by minibus.


    The Parish supports ministry to the housebound involving the parish team and parish Eucharistic ministers, the St Vincent de Paul Society and the parish welfare group, so we try to ensure that no one is left without a visit on a regular basis. The parish provides a Sunday lunch service for the housebound, transport to church for the infirm and people with disabilities and also transport for shopping, hospital visits, etc. For the housebound with access to computers the newsletter and other relevant information is available on the parish website weekly.


    A service is provided to the 6.30 p.m. Mass on Saturday, also 11.15 a.m. and 12.45 p.m. Masses on Sunday. Parishioners needing a lift and those who are able to offer one, should contact see Sunday Mass Drivers under "Groups"


    Volunteer parishioners take a Sunday Meal on a rota basis to an elderly or housebound person in the area and may also stay for a short chat. Volunteers are only usually required to take a meal 2 or 3 times a quarter. New volunteers are always welcome, as are any new people who might like to receive a lunch.


    This Luncheon Club takes place on Fridays during term-time in the Lower Parish Hall. Its aim is to provide an opportunity in a safe, supportive and friendly setting for young people from the Ursuline High School and Wimbledon College to meet, enjoy lunch and engage in conversation with older people from the Sacred Heart Parish. A new initiative – ‘Generations Question Together’ – will be added to our portfolio of intergenerational initiatives during the summer term 2009. This will take place at Wimbledon College on the 29.4.2009 from 1.45 p.m. – 3 p.m. It will take the form of an Intergenerational ‘Question Time’ with pupils from the Ursuline High School and the College taking part. Parishioners are warmly invited to join the audience and participate in the event. Further information concerning the ‘Generations Together’ programme can be obtained by leaving a message at the Reception 8946 0305


    We welcome all who are affected by cancer to drop-in meetings every Thursday from 3.00 to 4.30 p.m. except the first Thursday of each month when we meet from 7.30 – 9 p.m. instead. We offer friendship and support. We have received financial backing, training and guidance from MacMillan Cancer Support. The Group meets at the Guild House, 30-32 Worple Road, SW19. For further more information please see"groups" contact details


    Parishioners participate in the Annual Diocesan Day of Celebration at Aylesford Priory organised by the Community Development Project for the Inclusion of People with a Disability into the Life and Mission of the Church.