DSA Meeting Minutes
May 3, 2017
MINUTES OF THE DISABILITY SUPPORTERS ASSOCIATION CONSULTATION MEETING HELD IN THE GUINNESS SUITE AT THE MEMORIAL STADIUM ON WEDNESDAY, 26th APRIL 2017.
Panel Members: Steve Hamer (Chairman, Bristol Rovers), Dave Parker (Safety Officer, Bristol Rovers), Sam and Daryl Parsons (Bristol Rovers Supporters Executive Committee), Kieran Reynolds (Level Playing Field), Chris Summersell (Level Playing Field Communications Officer) and David Mann (Yeovil Town Disabled Supporters Association).
A further 30 people were in attendance.
Welcome and Introductions.
Dave Parker opened the meeting by saying that a Disabled Supporters Association (DSA) is very close to his heart. He has a daughter with Dyslexia and a brother with Downs Syndrome. He added that a new stadium would be the answer to most things that are likely to be raised at this meeting but if there are any reasonable adjustments that are not overly expensive the Club would only be happy to look at them. He advised the meeting that Level Playing Field have conducted an audit and we are awaiting the results.
Everybody on the panel introduced themselves and explained their role.
What is a DSA?
Kieran Reynolds explained that a DSA’s main role is to foster relations between disabled supporters and their football clubs. They are a campaigning and advisory organisation, a registered charity and their aim is to represent all disabled supporters. They do a Working Together Project which is user led, with the aim of improving awareness. Kieran strongly advised the meeting that any DSA should be independent and work in partnership with Bristol Rovers Supporters Club. He added that it is a way of representing our views and ideas and is a first step on a positive journey.
A DSA should build links with local disabled groups. Kieran himself is a Project Officer and works with DSAs old and new offering ongoing support and advice. He helps to recruit ambassadors, networks with other DSAs, sharing information.
He advised the meeting that in order to set up a DSA we should look to set up a steering group made up of volunteers and hold an AGM where officers can be elected.
David Mann of Yeovil Town’s DSA gave the meeting a presentation. He told the meeting that their first DSA folded but they now have a flourishing Association with 80 members. They have successfully arranged for 86 disabled car parking spaces, 20 wheelchair bays in the ground (15 for home fans and 5 for away fans). They have raised thousands of pounds through raffles, sponsored swims etc and have contributed to the installation of a lift, and dropped kerbs in the car park, and 10 blankets for bad weather. They produce a quarterly newsletter and contact all visiting teams to offer assistance. They regularly meet with the Club Chairman.
A discussion about disabled parking at the Memorial Stadium followed. Dave Parker advised the meeting that the car park’s spaces are about to be re-painted and numbered. Portacabins being put on disabled spaces was mentioned. A supporter asked if a Golf Buggy could be used to ferry supporters from the South Stand back up to the car park after the game. Zoe Young Kirkby added that carers are affected too by the uphill “push” after a game.
A regional forum was set up in 2010 and includes all clubs within a two hour journey. There are 11 clubs in the South West region and seven rugby clubs have been invited this year. The forums are held once a year with clubs taking it in turns to host. Six forums have been held so far with the next one being held at Newport County on October 19th.
The next steps.
Kieran Reynolds advised the meeting that we should be able to set up a DSA by the start of next season. We should be looking to fill three roles: Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer although the size of a committee can vary. Sam Parsons asked that if anyone is interested in getting involved to leave their contact details. She would like to have an informal get together within a month.
Kieran Reynolds added that issues can be broken down into short, medium and long term. Anyone can be involved without being on the Committee. He would be happy to help with any publicity and remarked that this is the largest attendance he has ever seen at an original consultation.
Dave Parker added that the Club need to know, “we’re not the experts you are”.
Zoe Young Kirkby added that disabled fans invariably miss out on match day hospitality because of access problems.
Another attendee added that Rovers ticketing web-site will not allow you to buy one front row ticket when there are only two such tickets left un-sold.
Sam Parsons closed the meeting with an appeal for people to get on board. Steve Hamer gave the project his full aupport.
Minutes produced by David Thomas (Bristol Rovers Supporters Club Executive Committee).