An Update from Disability Officer Barry Carter
As 2018 draws to a close I thought fans may be interested in how this year has gone for the Disabled Group at Carlisle United.
Our group has nearly 70 members, which include families and friends of people with a disability and also fans who just want to lend a hand.
As a group our aim is to make the match day experience as inclusive as possible by upgrading and improving disabled facilities and giving disabled fans a voice.
People tend to think of wheelchair users when we mention disabled facilities but they are only a small percentage of the people who we wish to help. Some fans need to use sticks to get around, some find stairs a problem, we have blind supporters, and we are looking into help for autistic children. Each disability can require a set of actions that will make the trip to Brunton Park a much easier and a more pleasurable experience.
For supporters who cannot make it to Brunton Park; we have a newsletter, which can be posted out but, to save on postage, we prefer to email if possible.
For supporters who do make the home matches; I hold a surgery between 1.30-2.30 at all Saturday games. I can be found in the Study Centre which is situated just behind the club shop. Please drop in and have a chat and hopefully join our group. Membership is free, we really would like to have a strong positive voice, so the more the merrier.
2018 has been a year where we have started to make real progress in some areas, although of course there is still much to do.
We have installed a roof over the remainder of the disabled area for home fans in the front of the Pioneer Stand and also covered the disabled area in the Paddock.
We have identified, and the club actioned and signed, ambulant toilets in the concourse of the Pioneer Stand. We have also pointed out the use of the lower shelf area on the food outlets is necessary for wheelchair users.
We have tried to help the ticket office find their way through the new PIP and Universal Credit minefields, regarding disabled and carer tickets, a nightmare for all concerned.
The low point of the year had to be the publicity the club received about the treatment of visiting wheelchair fans at the Morecambe game. The match had taken place in torrential rain and photos of a young boy sitting in the rain had, rightly, embarrassed us all.
I went down to Brunton Park on the Monday morning after the match and I was assured that the Morecambe fans were, on three separate occasions, offered the chance to move to a dry area but they chose to remain in the uncovered area in the Waterworks End.
I have to be fair and say the bad publicity was justified. The problem of away fans in an area where there was no shelter had been known about for some time. Now thankfully that problem has been addressed.
The club provided a roofed area for two wheelchairs at the bottom of the Pioneer Stand which was available for use before the next home game. Shelter4less provided the club with an excellent shelter free of charge. It arrived flat packed and I would like to thank the groundstaff for their sterling efforts in putting it together and installing it in situ at the Pioneer Stand side of the Waterworks End.
We have had high points too. We received a great donation from one of our away travel supporters. This was matched by the Carlisle United London Supporters Branch, meaning we can order a replacement for the home disabled shelter. The existing shelter would have been uneconomic to repair. The club have offered to build and install the new shelter which again is great news.
Looking forward, The Disabled Supporters Group will try to continue to improve or upgrade the existing disabled fans areas. We hope to extend the existing wheelchair area in the Paddock and hopefully we will have some great news for a proposed new raised area for our disabled fans.
The next very important project is to install new locks for all the disabled toilets. We want to use the Radar Key locks system. This system provides disabled users with a key that fits disabled toilets all over the country.
Many disabled fans already have these keys and keep one permanently on their keyring. For those fans who do not have a key already, we would have the keys located in the food outlets and stewards working in that area would also be supplied with keys.
The Radar Keys system allows instant entry if the toilet alarm is activated, which is a valuable safety feature. The Radar system costs £40-50 for each lock. If there are companies or Carlisle United fans who could help our disabled fans with this project please get in touch. We would make sure the lock sponsors would be recognised, please try to help your fellow fans.
I would like to thank United for letting me have free access to all areas of Brunton Park and to all United fan groups who have helped with finances. Their help has been a big positive and their constructive criticism has been welcomed.
I would like to wish all Carlisle United fans a happy and healthy New Year, and to the club and players, can we have more 6-0’s please!
Carlisle United Disabled Supporters Group