The Club and its Foundation joined others from across the EFL in celebrating Level Playing Field’s Unite For Access campaign over the past fortnight.
Running from Saturday, 25 February to Sunday, 12 March, the annual campaign, which replaced LPF’s Weeks of Action, seeked to raise awareness and drive equality for a more inclusive matchday experience for disabled sports fans.
The Club’s dedicated Unite For Access matchday was last Tuesday’s home game against Accrington, with Town’s first-team wearing the campaign’s warm-up shirts.
There was also a number of other announcements and plenty of coverage during the campaign, which is all detailed below.
Early in the campaign, the Club announced that sensory packs would be available for matchdays at Portman Road moving forward.
The packs, which are free to applicable season ticket holders as well as being available to rent on a match-to-match basis, are provided by the Foundation.
They are designed to enhance the experience of fans, particularly those with autism. Each pack is presented in an official Ipswich Town Foundation drawstring bag, and contains a disability awareness lanyard, as well as noise-reducing headphones, a Foundation branded fidget spinner and a Foundation branded soft stress ball.
Wes Burns and Conor Chaplin both wore the noise-reducing headphones when walking out with mascots who have autism ahead of the home fixture against Burton on Saturday, 4 March.
Sophia, a young Town fan who first came into contact with the Club during the annual visits to local hospitals and hospices at Christmas, was the first supporter to use one of the newly-available packs when attending the Forest Green fixture a week earlier.
More information about the sensory packs is available here.
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower
Portman Road now partakes in the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme.
Launched in 2016, The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a simple tool for an individual to voluntarily share that they have a disability or condition that may not be immediately apparent – and that they may need a helping hand, understanding, or more time in shops, at work, on transport, or in public spaces.
Club stewards and other supporter-facing staff have received training to ensure that they can provide further assistance for those wearing a lanyard, where required.
More information about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme is available here.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, as well as the Unite For Access campaign, the Club and Foundation highlighted the story of Donna.
Donna is a participant of the Foundation’s Adult Disability sessions, with two other females also regularly attending.
The Club announced that a changing places toilet is now available for supporters on matchdays.
Changing places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, washing facilities, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.
The facility, which has been provided by nearby Nash House, a special care dental surgery for patients with additional needs ran by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, is available from Saturday’s Shrewsbury game onwards.
More information about the changing places toilet is available here.
The Foundation announced the launch of Frame Football sessions for children who utilise walking aids.
The majority of children who attend utilise a walker that is open at the front called a ‘Kaye Walker’. Providing the frame allows them to play through issues with balance and co-ordination, enabling them to run safely and make football accessible.
Set up in September 2021 by Eoin McNamee, a physiotherapist, the group runs every other Sunday and has now transitioned to being part of the Foundation’s local provision.
More information about Frame Football is available here.