Championship football club Rotherham United has unveiled a new Changing Places facility at New York Stadium to make the venue more accommodating for supporters with disabilities.
The purpose-built space, which was in operation for Saturday’s match against Queens Park Rangers, includes equipment such as a hoist, a height-adjustable changing table and a height-adjustable sink to help people with learning disabilities, as well as individuals with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other conditions.
Rotherham has opened the space with the support of Rotherham Council, which secured £50,000 (€56,000/$59,000) from the UK Government’s Changing Places Fund. The club also worked in conjunction with the Rotherham United Disabled Supporters’ Association (RUDSA) to gather feedback on fans’ match-day experiences.
A disabled supporters room was recently introduced at New York Stadium. Following its successful opening, the club identified the adult changing facility as another area it could improve and it is hoped the new room will offer an appropriate and dignified space for fans.
Alongside the funds provided by the council, support was offered through a donation from the RUDSA and backing from the Rotherham United Community Sports Trust.
Rotherham’s head of community Jamie Noble said: “As a football club we pride ourselves on supporting the community, not only to live better and healthier lives, but to help make AESSEAL New York Stadium a safe and inclusive environment for everyone to enjoy their football.
“We would like to pass on our thanks to those who have donated to the room via RUDSA, including Rise Adaptions who have overseen the design and build whilst using local people to complete the installation. It’s a privilege not only to open this facility, but also to know that it’s been built by local people for local people.”
RUDSA chair Kerry Coleman added: “As disabled fans we know sometimes going to games can have its challenges. Having received feedback from some supporters about the need for a Changing Places facility that provided additional support to people’s personal needs, we have been working hard alongside Rotherham United and RUCST to implement this.
“RUDSA have been working hard to raise money towards the new facilities, we have had donations from local people, fundraising from a committee member, organised raffles and donations from a local charity plus much more. We are so pleased we are able to offer this facility to all those attending AEESEAL New York Stadium be it on a match day or any other event.”
The facility is located in the West Stand at New York Stadium, next to the first aid room. Supporters in any other stand who need to use the facility can speak to their nearest steward to arrange access.