Newly appointed Disability Liaison Officer, Volunteer Kerry Evans has sent the Media Team a progress update since taking up her new role for supporters to read:
I was appointed Disability Liaison Officer in January 2018 and started a three month induction period supervised by Colin Williams of the WST board.
The induction I felt went very well, I learnt an awful lot, and had meetings with most staff members at the club during this period, which I felt gave me a good understanding of who does what job, and who I would need to speak to with regards to moving forward within my new role.
One of the first changes I made was to reinstate a server for disabled fans on match days who wish to purchase food/drinks and have them brought out to pitch side for them. This has worked very well and Molly who was asked to carry out this duty does a fantastic job.
There are now that many people ordering from her, she regularly has to bring out a 2nd person with her to carry everything, and I feel it's put back in place a lovely service.
I also have decided that the personal touch means a great deal, so I decided when we had a number of disabled fans who attended at our Chester game, I personally went to each and every disabled fan along the front row, both home and away welcoming people.
The response I got was quite overwhelming and I had people thanking me for going to speak to them, so I feel this is a real positive to keep doing next season.
I also looked at the information on the website for disabled fans and decided there could be a lot more information provided to give disabled fans far more specific information with regards to their match day experience, so I updated the current information and sent it through to Carl Hogan (Wrexham AFC Media Manager) who kindly updated the website for me.
With next season in mind I spoke to Geoff Scott (Commercial Manager) who then asked Dan and Matt in the club shop/ticket office to ensure that when people start purchasing next seasons match/season tickets, if it was at all possible, that when disabled fans bring in their eligibility letters to receive their free carer ticket if we could add the date of how long their award is for onto the system.
Meaning that until that date expires i.e. in 3 years time they will not need to continually bring that letter with them to purchase tickets. I mentioned to a person only last week that I had put that in place and was told by him that will be a massive help, because he works with a person with disabilities who has a team of eight who work with him, and what I have put in place will now means whichever carer is bringing this fan now does not need to worry about presenting his eligibility letter each time he attends.
I have also been working with Kerry at the National Autistic Society in Wrexham after a very successful autism friendly game held earlier in the season. It got me thinking that our ground should be autism friendly for fans to attend any game they choose. So after a meeting held with Phil Bennett (Stadium Manager) who also thought it would be possible to put things in place to make this happen, I am now consulting with Kerry from the NAS and we are hopeful we can have this in place for starting next season. So watch this space.
It was also brought to my attention that there was no ramp facilities into the players entrance, meaning that disabled fans can't do the tours on our 'Open Day'. So I have spoken to Phil Salmon (Director responsible for the Stadium) who is going to ensure there is a ramp in place in time for the next open day. When I recently mentioned this to Colin Williams he reiterated that he had a letter of complaint last year from a disabled fan mentioning this exact issue and not being able to do the open day tour, so hopefully this will be a big plus for this years event.
I have numerous things I am currently working on that are on going: I aim by next season that I will have rung around all clubs in our league to discuss their facilities so that when Carl Hogan posts away game information for fans in the media, I can advise him of the facilities available at these clubs for Disabled fans. Giving more information out to our disabled fans without them having to ring the away club and find it out for themselves.
Because we have had some recent issues regarding umbrellas not being allowed in the stadium for regulatory reasons, I have recently come up with an alternative of purchasing an all over poncho with a hood that we could offer out to our disabled fans on wet days. I am currently awaiting the arrival of a sample to see if they will be suitable to purchase more in time for next season.
I have also spoken to Phil Bennett regarding the fact that I am neither able to enter or exit the club shop. Although we have a ramp in place the door is very heavy with a slight lip and I am unable to hold it open with one hand whilst getting in.
I'm sure if I am having difficulty there are other disabled fans having the same problem, so I know that Phil Bennett is going to study the cost implications to have maybe a disabled push button to ensure the door opens easily, or they may come up with an alternative, we will await news.
In a perfect world we would have in place disabled away travel to complement the existing arrangements. This is something I am starting to look into and see if it's possible.
To give you an example of how it could help, recently I would have liked to attend the Leyton Orient game but when we priced the fuel to attend that game making our own way in our personal transport, it was going to cost £75, a cost that we couldn't afford to pay after taking in to consideration the cost of getting away tickets etc. So I would love to solve this problem for disabled fans and make attending away games more affordable.
Quite how I'm going to do that I'm yet unsure, but it is something I'm working on. I have been in touch with Grimsby Town who have run very successful away travel service to every away game for years now, to hopefully I can get some advice from them, so again this is very much on going.
I am absolutely delighted to have got the role of DLO and am thoroughly enjoying the post.
I hope you can see from this activity report I have started the role with enthusiasm and I am very keen to make a positive difference over time and make Wrexham AFC as disabled friendly as we possibly can, and a place that people feel we are doing everything we possibly can to make a difference.
Written by: Kerry Evans
Wrexham AFC DLO