LONDON, EDINBURGH & CARDIFF, March 24th, 2014: In a landmark lecture at Swansea University this week, a leading Welsh historian and theologian will argue that our thinking about welfare and economics needs to be turned upside down through engagement with disabled people and carers.
In his presentation ‘Disabled church – disabled society’, the Rev Dr John Gillibrand will suggest that care-giving and care-receiving, as a basic and indispensible human need, is a means of exchange which can challenge our current assumptions about money and austerity-based economic policy.
“So much policy about public services is determined by people who may well never have never had the experience of being totally dependent upon the delivery of quality these services,” Dr Gillibrand told the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia, which is co-promoting the event. “This was the situation for me and my family.”
The title of the lecture ‘Disabled church – disabled society’ (Monday 24 March 2014, 7pm, University of Swansea) is that of Dr Gillibrand’s book, which was nominated for the Michael Ramsay Prize last year.
“In the book, I reflect on the experience of caring for our son Adam, who is a young man on the autistic spectrum. If I was to sum up the message of the book it is that autism presents challenges to the whole western tradition of thought,” says the Welsh Anglican priest and author.
“In my lecture I shall call for the creation of a ‘care economy’. It is the kind of economy and society in which we all actually want to live,” says Dr Gillibrand.
“In 2008 we discovered that the economic system was broken beyond repair. Instead of trying to make the existing system ‘resilient’ we should be trying to think through what new economic structures would look like.
“If your economic beliefs make you think that austerity is inevitable all that tells me is that it is time to re-examine your economic beliefs. The pain of doing that will be much less than the pain that austerity is bringing to so many lives.
"I will be dedicating the lecture to my son Adam. He is virtually without speech but has taught me so much,” Dr Gillibrand says.
Notes for editors:
 Founded in 2001 and based in London and Edinburgh, Ekklesia examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world. It is an independent, ecumenical think-tank which is not aligned to any particular denomination, but draws particular inspiration from the Anabaptist and ‘peace church’ traditions. More information here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/about
 John Gillibrand is a priest in the Church in Wales (Offeriad Anglican ac awdur). His book Disabled Church - Disabled Society is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers (http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843109686). His doctoral studies carried out at the University of Wales, Bangor, were on the applicability of the thought of Michel Foucault to Christian theology. He lives in Carmarthenshire, Wales and works in the Diocese of St David's in West Wales / Cymru. Follow him on Twitter at: @john_gillibrand