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COMMUNITY: Autistic Supporter Day

17 March 2024


COMMUNITY: Autistic Supporter Day

17 March 2024

Saturday 17 February saw the Club’s first ever ‘Autistic Supporter Day’ at Brunton Park.

We were joined by guests from Carlisle Mencap, Bee Unique, Team Autism and AFC Autism, as well as young mascots from both Carlisle and Cambridge.

The day began with some really useful training from AFC Autism to assist our stewards to be more aware of autistic supporters, what issues could arise and how to make the experience a happy, welcoming and worthwhile one.


The session was engaging, and the Stewards found it useful in terms of how to recognise signs, deal with issues that can arise for an autistic supporter such as during bag searches, accessing turnstiles, body searches as well as with noise and seating issues.

Later, we enjoyed a relaxing session with invited guests from some local autism charities as well as a range of Carlisle Autistic Supporters, such as Tom Monaghan and mum Carolyn, as well as Serena McCarron and her dad Mark, who is a volunteer with local Autistic Charity, Bee Unique. All the guests found the session very relaxing and by the time the game started, they were all ready and prepared to watch. They all enjoyed the match and everyone stayed to the end.

Susan Mackenzie from Team Autism brought along an ‘Autism Simulator’, which was very illuminating to experience. They also gave us some excellent feedback, which we will discuss at the next EDI Working Group meeting.

We were joined in the Boardroom and Director’s Box with CEO of Carlisle Mencap, Catherine Burn BEM, and Service Manager, Charlotte Crosbie. Charlotte is part of the recently formed disability group and we are looking forward to developing our relationship with Mencap more in the future, particularly in respect of our autistic supporters.

As the players and mascots came out of the tunnel just before kick-off, both captains Michael Morrison and Sam Lavelle were joined by autistic mascots Freddie Nurse (Cambridge) and Serena McCarron (Carlisle) in wearing noise cancelling headphones.

Serena McCarron’s Dad, Martin McCarron said: “There were a lot of positives today and we met some fantastic people in the study centre, well done for bringing us all together.

"It was a fabulous experience, and I will be excited to work with you guys in the future.”


Tom Monaghan’s mum, Carolyn said: “Firstly, thank you so much to you and your team for providing an Autistic Supporters Day. I think my son, Tom, summed up his experience when he said, “I really enjoyed that mam” and “I want to come back”.

"The social gathering before the game was such an added bonus. Soft drinks and biscuits were followed by a visit from Olga and some of the Piatak family. This safe space gave Tom an opportunity to create his own Fan Zone with others, just like the people outside were experiencing, and everyone present looked relaxed, it was so welcoming.

"Tom was settled watching the game as a lot of effort had been put in to finding Tom a seat at the end of a row. A steward in our area came over to ask if the seats were okay and that we were happy seated there. The lady was smiling and friendly, it helped Tom a lot.

"Due to the crowds leaving all together at the end of a game, Tom has previously wanted to leave the game early, but not today. “I want to stay to the end and clap Simmo and the lads”, I smiled and said absolutely that’s great and that’s exactly what Tom and I did.

"As we left, Tom said, “there’s always another game”.

"It was a joy to see Tom more settled at a game, your effort to support him and others did not go unnoticed. We hope that everyone associated at the Club continues to strive for the best and to make every game accessible for all.

"With thanks and kind regards, Carolyn and Tom.”

EDI Officer, Nigel Davidson added: “It was such a pleasure to host such an amazing group of individuals and charities at the Autistic Supporter Day, before the game with Cambridge United.

"We have so many autistic fans of the Club and whilst some are able to attend games, many currently are not. We are looking to work with the Club and the community to provide greater accessibility for autistic supporters in the future and training the Stewards on how to provide a more positive and welcoming experience was part of that journey.

"We are also looking at strengthening links with other clubs so away autistic supporters traveling to Carlisle and home autistic supporters traveling away, can have an equally positive experience.

"Huge thanks to both Michael and Sam for their participation in raising awareness around autistic supporters in football, it was greatly appreciated.”

Links to all the mentioned organisations can be found below:

AFC Autism -

Carlisle Mencap - +

Bee Unique -

Team Autism  -

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