Latics backing scheme to make match day experience more autism friendly

Latics backing scheme to make match day experience more autism friendly

Players Autism friends1

Wigan Athletic Players

Wigan Athletic have backed an Autism Friends scheme to improve the match day experience for supporters with autism.

Working with Wigan Council to create autism-friendly stadiums, Latics are offering fans the chance to borrow ear defenders and key staff have undertaken autism friends training, while supporters will be able to enter the stadium using the side entrance as opposed to turnstiles.

The ear defenders will allow supporters with autism who are sensitive to crowd noise to attend matches without feeling uncomfortable and allowing them to enjoy the match day experience watching Wigan Athletic.

Latics supporter Mark Holdsworth, whose son Ethan suffers with Autism said: “The ear defenders were great quality and it made Ethan happy that they had the club badge on them.

“It’s a great initiative by the club and we will definitely use them again for Ethan, the next time we come to a game.”

Supporters will be able to benefit from an enhanced match day experience thanks to a Premier League Fans Fund grant, which has enabled Wigan Athletic Community Trust to improve facilities for junior disabled supporters, including the ear defenders and the Blue Room.

The Blue Room is a pre-match area at the DW Stadium for the club’s junior disabled supporters to take part in various inclusive activities, and is open for an hour and a half at every Saturday and Bank Holiday fixture.

Tom Purser Head of Campaigns and Public Engagement at the National Autistic Society said: "It's great that Wigan Athletic FC are considering the needs of their autistic fans. There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK and they and their families want to enjoy the same activities and opportunities that others take for granted - and this includes going to football matches.

"Many autistic people experience sensory sensitivity, where light, sound, taste and touch can become physically overwhelming. This means that the noise in a football stadium could be uncomfortable or even painful for some autistic people. Introducing a straightforward and important change like providing ear defenders will help some autistic supporters enjoy the experience at the match.

"It's great to see Wigan Athletic FC have taken this practical step and, even more importantly, demonstrating that they want games at their stadium to be more accessible to autistic people and their families. We would encourage more clubs to follow in their footsteps and look at what more they could do to meet the needs of autistic football fans across the UK." For more information visit www.autism.org.uk (external link).

The ear defenders will be available to collect from 1pm on the day of the game up until kick off from reception at the DW Stadium, with supporters required to pay a £5 deposit, which will be given back on the return of them following the game.

For more information about Wigan Athletic’s offering to supporters with autism, please contact Louise Peet at the ticket office on 01942 311111 or email l.peet@wiganathletic.com.

Wigan Athletic Football Club, Wigan Athletic Community Trust and the DW Stadium are committed to respecting and promoting equality and diversity across all its activities through Together (external link).

Posted on Friday 2nd August 2019
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