Fans with sensory needs will find a safe and calm space at West Ham FC home games as the team has opened a sensory room at London Stadium.
Those with additional needs and non-visible disabilities who might find the experience of a soccer game to loud or overwhelming will be able to gain access to a specially designed space that offers lower lighting, soft furnishings and sensory equipment such as bubble machines.
The new Sensory Room, developed in close conjunction with the Disabled Supporters’ Board and informed by best practice from The Shippey Campaign, will offer a range of calming sights, sounds and apparatus, managed on matchdays by specially appointed staff, to help supporters adapt to the atmosphere of London Stadium in safety and security.
Supporters will also have the ability to transition between an adjacent viewing room, where they can watch on in a quieter locale, or out onto a balcony; they will be free to move between whichever experience of a match makes them feel most comfortable.
In this way, the Sensory Room – as well as this season’s launch of a Weekly Sensory Hour at the Club Store and West Ham’s ongoing support of Purple Tuesday – is designed to help those with sensory needs get more used to a footballing environment.
The new Sensory Room facility has already received the seal of approval from West Ham United’s Official Private Hospital, Spire London East Hospital, as Disability Access Officer, Julie Pidgeon, explained: “We invited Spire down a couple of weeks ago. It was a professional look at the room from a professional’s point of view, and they were over the moon with it.”
Cathy Bayford, Co-Chair of the Disabled Supporters’ Board (DSB), explained: “I think this shows that we cover all aspects of disabilities. All families should be included.
“We want all families to be able to come along no matter what. Nothing should prevent you from coming along, so if this can help, that would be great. We’ve got a lot of supporters who have non-visible disabilities, autism being one of them, so to see this Sensory Room opening makes us really proud of the Club.”