Luton Town are are proud to be supporting Level Playing Field's 'Weeks of Action' campaign, with today's game against Swansea City being our matchday dedicated to disabled supporters.
Disability charity Level Playing Field are celebrating their 17th 'Weeks of Action' campaign from Saturday 27 February to Sunday 14 March, which aims to showcase the good work being done by clubs and organisations to improve accessibility and inclusion across all sports.
As with fans, Level Playing Field are unfortunately absent from the terraces this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has meant they have had to take their campaign virtual for the first time ever!
To support the campaign, the Hatters are getting involved by helping our disabled supporters learn about Level Playing Field and understand what they do, what their aims are to improve accessibility and inclusion, and how they can assist disabled fans.
Goalkeeper James Shea, who is the player patron for the Luton Town Disabled Supporters' Association, met with some LTDSA members on Zoom last Thursday for a Q&A session.
James said: "It was a really enjoyable hour spent talking about football and you could sense just how much the supporters are missing not being at the games.
"I had big boots to fill in replacing James Justin as their player patron, but I'm always happy to talk with our supporters, and especially our disabled fans who I've met many times on community events.
"I know how tough it's been for so many of them in the past year with not being able to attend their sessions every week on top of not being able to come to Kenilworth Road for their football fix. We can't wait until they, and all fans, are back in the stadium on a matchday."
During the Q&A, wheelchair-user George Barnard, who travels around the country by train to watch the Hatters in normal times, asked for support with a petition he started to get adequate disabled access at all railway stations.
This is what George, pictured below with Town midfielder Glen Rea, has written for the matchday programme:
"Hello Hatters, hope you are all safe and well? My name is George Barnard and I’m a season ticket holder. I have Cerebral Palsy and due to this I am confined to a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
"My love of football takes me all over the country watching games, most of which I travel to using the trains as I am unable to drive.
"When I use the train service, I constantly have to look at different train stations and whether they have adequate disabled access. Some stations I travel to do not have the access needed to accommodate me or others with disabilities meaning I have to change route or in some cases walk up the stairs whilst my friends carry my chair or scooter behind me. To give you an idea of how close to home this is, Luton and Leagrave train stations don’t have disabled access. It is an issue that plagues myself and many others and, in my opinion, can be quite degrading as people stare when I walk up the stairs when I need to do so.
"I have wanted to do something about this for a while and after seeing what amazing work Marcus Rashford has done through watching his documentary, I decided to start a petition to get adequate disabled access at all train stations across Britain.
"The petition is aimed towards the UK government. For the petition to be brought up for debate by MPs it needs to reach 100,000 signatures. At the time of writing this it has almost 44,000 signatures. If you are reading this, please sign the petition and help make a difference to many people’s lives. Together we can make change.
The petition can be found by clicking HERE.
Thank you and COYH!
Who are 'Level Playing Field'?
Level Playing Field are a sports charity that act as a campaigning and advisory organisation for disabled sports fans.
The charity supports disabled sports fans through the following channels:
As a user led organisation, Level Playing Field's members are always at the heart of what they do.Their shared passion for sport and equality really drives them to influence long term change and improve the spectator experience for all disabled fans.
The Level Playing Field 'Fan' membership is free to join, and includes the following benefits:
- Weekly 'match day' newsletter with general LPF updates
- Quarterly 'Fan' specific exclusive newsletter
- Invites to take part in annual events such as Weeks of Action and regional/national forums.
- Official membership certificate.
- It's free to become a member.
Other benefits include:
- Access to independent, expert advice and guidance on access and inclusion issues
- Opportunity to feedback on Access and Inclusion through LPF's annual survey
- Opportunity to network with other disabled fans, fan groups and disability/sports organisations.
Active Level Playing Field initiatives
Level Playing Field run a range of initiatives for disabled sports fans, especially specific to the current climate of living through a global pandemic.
- TALKING SPORT: Level Playing Field launched the Talking Sport initiative to help reduce loneliness and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Match of the Day... Before - Every Monday the Fans Liaison Team host an open-invitation zoom call, where fans can come along and chat about all the weekend. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- THE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD PODCAST: The latest Level Playing Field initiative, a monthly podcast series with guests from across the sporting community.
To find out more about the above, contact email@example.com
Level Playing Field's work
Level Playing Field work behind the scenes with clubs to help improve accessibility at sports venues to ensure disabled supporters can experience the best possible match day. Common areas of improvement are sensory rooms, accessible toilets, audio commentary, and accessible clubs shops and food concession stands that include drop-down counters.
Areas of improvement can be highlight by clubs through Level Playing Field services such as:
- Access Audits by NRAC (National Register of Access Consultants)
- Club staff training
- Expert advice and guidance
If you would like to keep updated with Level Playing Field's work, follow them on their social media channels.
Thank you for taking the time to read a bit about Level Playing Field!