Welcome Cathy - tell us a bit about West Ham United’s Disabled Supporters’ Board.
The board was formed back in 2017 as a stand-alone group when it was identified that significant chunks of the various Fan Groups meetings were being monopolised by disabled issues. Working with the Club we invited members from our fan base to form the DSB and we now have 15 supporters on board, with ages 17 thru to 70 and together we represent a range of disabilities.
We have worked on many projects with the Club. Fans will have seen the Shuttle Buses dropping disabled supporters off by the Stadium Store. This free service runs backwards and forwards from Stratford International Station before and after a Game. This has been so popular, we started off with 4 buses and we now have 18 vehicles running on a matchday.
Other initiatives we have worked on with the Club include
The disabled only search lanes and turnstile entrances
Discreet disability passes to allow access for those whose disabilities are not immediately obvious or visible.
The Lowering of & additional signage at a number of catering kiosk counters.
And the introduction of sensory room available to those who struggle with the hustle and bustle of matchday.
We meet regularly as full meetings with the Club and in between we are regularly in conversation with the Accessibility Team and Supporter Services.
We also sit on the Premier League Disabled Advisory Group where we are kept up to date with nationwide issues, I represent the DSB on West Ham’s own Independent Supporters Committee and members of the DSB sit on the various sub committees.
Why is Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action important to you as a supporters group?
The campaign looks to shine a light on the positive work being done by clubs, fans and other organisations towards improving access and inclusion. We hope to see further improvements in the matchday experience for disabled fans coming along to football games and raise awareness. The key objective of
Weeks of Action is to raise awareness of good access and inclusion and how it benefits disabled fans and the wider community.
How can other supporters get involved with the Disabled Supporters’ Board?
We are using the Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action campaign to launch our own West Ham Disabled Supporters Facebook page we want to make sure we are really representing our disabled supporters – that we are letting everyone know what is in place to further improve the matchday experience for our Disabled Supporters, we want to let our Fans know what we are talking about with the Club and get better feedback to know we are getting it right.
If you don’t have a Facebook profile the DSB has it’s own email and links to that can be found by searching DSB on the Club Website.
Trevor & I would very much like to see the continued growth of the West Ham Disabled Supporters community and would like to say thank you for the support of our West Ham Family.
Last month saw the Level Playing Fields Weeks of Action Campaign being recognised by West Ham United at the game against Wolves. The campaign is an annual period of inspiration and celebration of good access and inclusion at sports venues. Our Disabled Supporters Board (DSB) used the campaign to launch the West Ham United Disabled Supporters Facebook Group. Members of Supporter Services and the Disabled Supporter Assistants team set up a meet & greet at the Shuttle Bus drop off point, together with Cathy Bayford & Trevor Bright who co-chair the DSB, to highlight the work of the Level Playing Field & the new Facebook page followed by a pitch side interview prior to match kick off.