West Ham United has launched a new space at London Stadium to enhance the match-day experience for fans with sensory needs.
The sensory room has been developed in conjunction with West Ham’s Disabled Supporters’ Board with input from The Shippey Campaign. The room will offer calming sights, sounds and apparatus for fans whose sensory difficulties may be triggered by the noise and numbers of a football crowd.
The room will be managed by specially appointed staff who will help fans adapt to the atmosphere in a safe and secure environment. An adjacent viewing room will also be set up for fans to watch in a quieter environment or on a balcony, with fans able to move between whichever experience makes them most comfortable.
Cathy Bayford, co-chair of the Disabled Supporters’ Board, said: “I think this shows that we cover all aspects of disabilities. All families should be included.
“As West Ham United, we’re a family club – 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.”
The Shippey Campaign was founded by Kate Shippey and Peter Shippey, who have supported the launch of the new room. The campaign was founded after the pair experienced the need for such a facility for their own children. Its hope is to launch sensory viewing rooms in as many sports stadia as possible.
Peter Shippey said: “It’s wonderful what West Ham have done here. It’s helping people who would otherwise struggle to come to a match to enjoy the game and atmosphere in a place where they feel comfortable.
“Myself and my wife both had season tickets at Roker Park and the Stadium of Light. We’d both been to football matches for 20 or 30 years. Six years ago, we just wanted to take our boys to the match, but they couldn’t cope with the noise and the atmosphere.
“We saw the problem, came up with the solution, and it’s brilliant now everybody’s getting on board and helping fans that need it.”
West Ham’s sensory room has been given the seal of approval from West Ham’s official private hospital, Spire London East Hospital.
Image: West Ham United