While the national group has apparently somewhat lost its way (the recent AGM was more ‘descends into chaos’ than maintaining its focus) the St Johnstone Disabled Supporters Association continues to make good progress.
When we started four years ago we met every month. Last season we met every two months and this coming season we will be meeting quarterly.
This is a clear measure of success (if we resolved everything we wouldn’t need a group at all) demonstrated by some of what we have achieved below. We have done our “job” well and our club have responded positively in so many ways.
Here are some examples:
Ramp at club shop.
Servery orders taken from and delivered to seats to remove need to negotiate doors, queues and areas of limited space.
Allocated spaces for wheelchair season ticket holders.
Allocated and/or prearranged parking.
Radar locks on some disabled toilets and all seven disabled toilets have emergency pull cords.
Non-reflective glass to be installed at ticket office.
New audio equipment acquired allowing those requiring commentary to sit anywhere in the stadium. Previously there were only some seats with sockets beside them.
Away bus parking improved at national level - a St Johnstone DSA initiative - no more having to walk up to half a mile on cold and wet winter nights for disabled or elderly folk.
Seating provided to enable a personal assistant to sit next to the person they accompany, not behind or in front.
Improved signage around McDiarmid Park.
Awareness training conducted with staff - an ongoing exercise.
McDiarmid Park has received positive reviews on Euan’s Guide and other web sites dealing with accessibility.
The group has had a great insight into the various roles within our club, with guests having included: chairman, manager, Paul Smith, groundsman, physio, club poet, hospital radio, players, ex-players, ticket office staff, police, club chaplain, and more. Our guests are invited to stay for the whole meeting and most of them left with a greater understanding of what it is like to attend football matches as a supporter with a disability.
We have established excellent working relationships within the club, treating everyone with respect, and have achieved everything without constitution, committee, office bearers or money - our only rule being “no moaning!”
Our thanks go to the chairman, to Paul Smith and to Bev, the latter being our main club contact and great ally!
We are grateful to the club for providing an accessible room for us to hold our meetings.
All of this also benefits the club who could not be accused of failing in their duty to accommodate disabled spectators in accordance with the Equality Act. On the contrary the club can point to all they have done, and continue to do, as proof they are proactively and positively engaging with disabled supporters in keeping with the spirit of the aforementioned legislation.