In the past week, MOMS has had the chance to meet and help out the recently formed Aston Villa Disabled Supporters Association (AVDSA). It was good to see a group starting to become active in promoting issues that need more exposure and ultimately action.
All football supporter issues need continuous work to push, lobby and grow awareness of, even the no-brainer issues. Those who sit back thinking they have a divine right or that the club will take care of something eventually, will end up disappointed.
While Villa don’t currently have the required number of disabled supporters places (the big on-going issue) and disabled fans still can’t buy tickets online (hopefully happening soon), there is also the problem of not having a Changing Place on match days. A facility that other clubs such as our neighbours West Bromwich Albion, have for their supporters (check out further details of their new accessibility concourse improvements.
A Changing Place is a larger toilet area with a height adjustable changing bench, a hoist, a shower, a toilet and a sink. Over 1/4 of a million people in the UK cannot use standard accessible toilets. This includes people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people.
It would allow disabled supporters to use the toilet in safety and comfort, and make life easier for their carers too on match days. It may also encourage fans who are currently afraid to come to the ground to feel more welcome and accepted.
The Aston Villa Disabled Supporters Association (AVDSA) was set up in July of this year to help lobby the club to improve the conditions for many Villa supporters and the Changing Place is something Villa can address in the near future, rather than it hinging on getting promoted and having access to Premier League money.
If Villa can continually refurbish the hospitality suits (it’s noticeable that many hospitality seats currently remain empty in the Trinity Road stand), then installing a single Changing Place shouldn’t be much of a stretch.
Where there’s a will there’s a way.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
In short, please sign AVDSA’s petition to show the club that you support the installation of a Changing Place, something that you’d think a club the size of Aston Villa would already have.
Never mind Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal, Villa are now behind the likes of WBA, Leicester, Southampton, Watford and Sunderland, who have all already taken the steps to be more inclusive to their supporters.
If/when Villa get promoted they will have to fall in line with Accessible Stadia Guidance in providing a certain number of disabled places, which they are currently below and provide a Changing Place.
Having a Changing Place shouldn’t really have to hinge on promotion to the Premier League, as the cost wouldn’t be that great to the club.
SPREAD THE WORD
Please do share the petition once you’ve signed it to help get the word out further for the AVDSA.
Join the discussion by joining the AVDSA Facebook Group