I am writing today’s post to update everyone about recent events and news.
The BRFC DSA meeting which occurred on Monday 18th September was a huge success. Along with staff from Bristol Rovers, there were around 15 people in attendance while others sent us apologies as they were unable to attend however this gave us a good indication that double the number were interested in attending future meetings.
Clive Marshall (Chair) welcomed everyone and made the introductions before giving an overview of what had been done to set up the BRFC DSA to date – for example sorting the bank account, setting up admin procedures and social media as well as purchasing a data protection license and membership of Level Playing Field.
I then explained the day-to-day running and gave an idea of what a typical day was like for the DSA. So answering emails, supplying information to fans and other clubs, and how the DSA contacts any visiting clubs and their DSA’s if they have one ahead of their visit to The Mem to offer assistance if required.
Clive and I explained that from day one there had been good communication between the DSA and the Football Club. The DSA was given access to the Level Playing Field Audit and involved in discussions relating to facilities, policies, and procedures that affect disabled supporters. The panel updated everyone relating to the improvements already carried out around The Mem and what the ongoing actions are though we explained that money would always influence what work can and will be done. We also addressed some of the issues previously raised, i.e., portacabins over disabled bays, ticketing, and parking permits. There are ongoing communications involving these matters.
There were discussions about the common issues experienced for both home and away matches – before, during and after the games. And it was apparent that having decent facilities don’t always equal a good experience for supporters. Stewards play a huge part as do other fans and their behaviour. Travel, drop off points and access to reliable information also contribute.
Clive talked about how in the future the BRFC DSA would like to arrange accessible away travel as well as trying to raise funds for things like weatherproof covers for wheelchair users, ponchos, blankets and personal DAB radios. All small things that can make a difference to a person’s matchday experience and that don’t necessarily cost a fortune either. Obviously, raising funds will be needed to do any of this.
Along with Dave Parker, we announced that we are attending the South West Disabled Fans Experience Forum annual meeting on 19th October where all DSA’s from the South West regularly attend. It will offer an opportunity for the BRFC DSA to learn from everyone and make contacts in person. Dave Parker announced that Bristol Rovers and the BRFC DSA have recently agreed to host the meeting next year.
Dave Parker, Bristol Rovers Safety Officer, and Stephen Garner, Police Liaison Officer, were in attendance and they spoke of their work and the way the DSA works with them.
It was a very positive meeting – everyone had their say, and at the end of the evening, we both felt people left feeling that the BRFC DSA was now up and running properly and that the disabled supporters now had an official voice.
Following the meeting, I was contacted by a local company who wanted to make a donation towards buying some of the smaller items mentioned above. I am delighted to say that Gary Davis from Commercial Transfer has indeed made a donation and we are in the process of sourcing and purchasing some of these items. I will post details re how disabled supporters can borrow them in due course.
Don’t forget to check our social media pages as we frequently post information and updates. We will look to arrange another open meeting again in the new year. As always if you have any queries, have any problems, or if anyone would like to discuss anything written in this post in more detail, please feel free to email me via DSAbristolrovers@outlook.com
Kind Regards Zoe Kirkby (Secretary BRFC DSA)