Level Playing Field Working Together Project - A 'Game Changer' for disabled fans
Since 2011 the Level Playing Field Working Together project has been a ‘Game Changer’ for disabled sports fans, here we look at the aims of the project and just a few of its successes…
Level Playing Field’s Working Together project was established in 2011 to improve the relationship, awareness and cooperation between disabled fans, clubs and non-disabled fans.
In order to do this, LPF work with clubs and fans to establish and maintain independent pan-disability Disabled Supporters Association’s (DSAs) that give disabled fans a powerful voice within their clubs that puts access and inclusion at the heart of the decision making. LPF also support existing DSA's to recognise the challenges they face and to identify where LPF can be of further assistance.
LPF is also working with clubs and DSAs to establish Regional Forums where individual DSAs and club representatives can exchange views, policies and practices concerning their respective clubs and associations.
What they said: Working Together Testimonials
Case study: Wrexham DSA
Wrexham DSA were formed under the Working Together project in 2013 and have been a massive ‘Game Changer’ for the club’s disabled fans.
The DSA, ran independently by dedicated volunteers, enjoys a close relationship with the club which has seen funds raised for a raised wheelchair user viewing platform to be installed at the Racecourse Ground.
This was formally opened by LPF Vice President Lord Faulkner who said “Wrexham FC has shown just what is possible when a club and its supporters come together with a shared determination to make meaningful progress”
Describing the feeling of witnessing how much this meant to the club’s disabled fans, Steve Gilbert of Wrexham DSA said "It was a fantastic feeling to see everybody gather on the platform, everybody was so happy and very impressed”.
Since the inception of the project, LPF have supported the establishment of 12 DSAs which has undoubtedly led to an improved matchday experience for many disabled supporters. In some cases, providing an accessible solution that enables a disabled fan to attend a sporting venue for the first time.
Kieran Reynolds, Working Together Project Coordinator said: "I am passionate about everyone having the same opportunity to watch their team play in an accessible and inclusive environment and the Working Together project is a fantastic way of achieving this. By giving disabled fans a stake within their clubs they can affect lasting change and in many cases transform the lives of disabled people.”
Case study: Regional Forums
Regional Forums provide a medium where individual DSAs and club representatives can exchange views, policies and practices concerning their respective clubs and associations.
This assists all clubs and DSAs in their efforts to improve their accessible and services offered to disabled supporters with the ultimate aim being to improve their matchday experience, and for more disabled people to attend matches.
Inspired by the success of the South West Disabled Fans Experience Forum (SWDFEF), LPF is working to establish new Regional Forums in England and Wales. So far LPF has established Regional Forums in the South Coast, Wales and most recently North West.
The forums are such a success because they enable the transfer of ideas and best practices from multiple stakeholders across clubs of all sizes, as well as simply providing a great social benefit to all participants. By creating a unifying voice for disabled fans, this enables progress to be made towards fully inclusive and accessible stadia.
At the recent inaugural North West Forum held at the Eithad Stadium, Mark Barber of the Manchester City DSA said: “Disabled supporters from all clubs face similar issues so it was fantastic to see representatives from North West clubs coming together to form one joined up team. The whole room interacted excellently together throughout a very constructive day.”
The Working Together project has been a ‘Game Changer’ for disabled fans and LPF are always looking to expand the project and work with as many clubs and fans as possible.
We aim to place disabled fans at the forefront of the decision making process at clubs and National Governing Bodies, and aim to establish further DSAs and Regional Forums throughout England & Wales.
We recognise that a strong, independent voice for disabled fans can have a positive, long term impact for disabled people and would love to hear from you if you’d like to become a ‘Game Changer’ at your club.
*Working Together is funded by the Football Foundation's Fans Fund and ran for an initial three year period. It was extended for a further two years in November 2015.