DSA meeting overview
September 21, 2017
Along with staff from Bristol Rovers, there were also 15 people in attendance to take part in the first open meeting of the Bristol Rovers Disabled Supporters Association. Some people sent apologies as unable to attend however this gave a good indication that double the number were interested in proceedings.
Clive welcomed everyone and made the introductions before giving an overview of what had been done to set up the DSA – 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.
Zoe 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 league one clubs (and any visiting teams in cup games) and their DSA’s if they have one ahead of their visit to The Mem to offer assistance if required. The DSA frequently talks with other departments at Rovers such as the Community Trust and also more recently with local charities to see how everyone can work together to raise awareness of all disabilities.
Clive and Zoe 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 affected disabled supporters. There were explanations relating to the improvements already carried out and ongoing actions. Though they explained money would always influence what work can and would be done. They also addressed some of the issues previously raised, ie, 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. And it was apparent that having decent facilities don’t always equal a good experience. Stewards play a huge part as do other supporters and their behaviour. Travel and access to reliable information also contribute.
The DSA and Dave Parker announced that they are attending the South West Disabled Fans Experience Forum annual meeting in October where all DSA’s from the South West regularly attend. It will be a good chance to learn from everyone and make contacts in person. Dave Parker announced that Bristol Rovers and the BRFC DSA are hosting the meeting next year.
Clive talked about how in the future the 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 that doesn’t necessarily cost a fortune either. Obviously, raising funds will be needed to do any of this.
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, Clive and Zoe felt people left feeling that the DSA was now up and running properly and that the disabled supporters now had an official voice.
If anyone would like to discuss any of this in more detail, please feel free to email Zoe via [email protected]