Accessible football for all
For Cathy Bayford and Trevor Bright, following West Ham United means far more than just cheering on the team at matches.
The pair – both Accessiblity Season Ticket Holders at London Stadium – play a key role in ensuring that all Hammers supporters with accessibility needs have the opportunity to raise any issues or concerns directly with the Club, thanks to their role as Chairs of the Disability Supporters Advisory Board (DSAB).
The DSAB is the key conduit between accessibility supporters and the West Ham United Board. Three meetings are currently held per season to enable our accessibility supporters to raise and discuss the key issues that matter most with the Vice-Chairman, Board members and senior Club officials, with action points established in order to continue to enhance the matchday experience for all fans.
The mission of the DSAB is ‘to work together to achieve the best services, facilities, and experience for our accessibility supporters’.
In April 2017, the Club wrote by email and sent a letter to all supporters who have registered as accessibility ticket holders inviting them to apply to join the DSAB. The Club received more than 50 applications to join the DSAB, and as representatives on the general Supporter Advisory Board for ambulant and wheelchair using supporters, Cathy and Trevor independently selected a total of 16 members using a range of criteria in order to ensure the most diverse and varied representation of our accessibility supporters.
This included, but was not limited to, ambulant disabled supporters who are visually-impaired, hearing-impaired or have learning difficulties, wheelchair users, those that live locally and further afield, a representative from the Bondholder community, Corporate and General Admission Season Ticket Holders, Claret Members, juniors and senior citizens, and supporters who sit in a range of areas across the stadium.
I’m really quite proud of that and the commitment to enhancing the matchday experience for supporters with accessibility needs
“I married into West Ham!” said Cathy. “My husband Steve began bringing me to games before we got married in 1997. I caught the bug immediately and fell in love with the Club and everything about following West Ham.
“As an ambulant disabled supporter, I was obviously keen to hear what was happening during the move from Upton Park to London Stadium a couple of years ago and, when the Club offered supporters the opportunity to apply to join the Supporter Advisory Board, I thought that rather than just grumbling about what was going on, it would be more productive to get involved.
“From there, the idea of a separate board for supporters with accessibility needs came up. We found that our issues and concerns were dominating large parts of the general SAB meetings and so it became quite evident that we needed a separate forum.
“I’m really quite proud of that and the commitment to enhancing the matchday experience for supporters with accessibility needs.
“We are going from strength to strength and continue to make progress, thanks to the open communication that we have enjoyed and the dedication of everyone involved.”
Trevor, who has been a loyal supporter since the 1960s, admits he was encouraged to get involved in order to give fellow disabled fans a better understanding of London Stadium.
“The facilities and access for disabled supporters at London Stadium are fantastic, and far better than most Premier League stadiums that I have visited,” he said.
“What takes time at any new stadium is familiarity and getting used to your surroundings. It’s easy to moan about things you are not aware of, and so I wanted to find out more in order to educate myself and others.
“If one person comes to me and says that their matchday experience has been improved thanks to the support of the DSAB, then that is good enough for me.”
Any disabled or ambulant disabled supporters wishing to find out more about the DSAB can contact Cathy or Trevor by email at firstname.lastname@example.org