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NEWS: Coventry City opening sensory room for supporters on matchdays

24 February 2022

Coventry City are opening a sensory room for supporters on matchdays!

The Sensory Room at the Coventry Building Society Arena was opened in 2018, with support from Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation, and will now be used on Coventry City matchdays, run in partnership with Sky Blues in the Community.

The Sensory Room has been announced ahead of our matchday in support of the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action, an annual period of inspiration and celebration of good access and inclusion at sports venues which Coventry City support each year, and following a successful trial with Sky Blues fans last Saturday against Barnsley.

Two executive boxes have been converted into a quiet viewing room and a separate sensory space, where adults and children with autism and other disabilities can watch the action whilst being shielded from loud noise and bright lights, with the room staffed by a Sky Blues in the Community member of staff.

The sensory room is split into two areas. There is a viewing room where people can sit on bean bags, chairs or high stools to watch the action, and if feeling overwhelmed, there is an adjacent space with calming sensory equipment such as bubble tubes and fibre optic lights – this will include Coventry City cushions, bears and mini-footballs too.

The idea came about after Wasps fan Neil Boon was inspired by the efforts of the Shippey Campaign, which is a project encouraging the use of viewing sensory rooms within stadiums. More details can be seen here https://theshippeycampaign.com/

Fans will be able to use the Box, subject to demand and availability, on a rotational basis once per season.

Young Sky Blues fan Noah was the first to try out the Sensory Room for our game against Barnsley with his Mum and Step-Dad, and he loved the experience of being at the game in the Sensory Room environment.

Coventry City Chief Executive Dave Boddy said:

“We are delighted to offer this Sensory Room to supporters so that they can enjoy the game in a space that is designed and suitable for their needs.

“We would like thank Wasps and the Coventry Building Society Arena for making this available to us and Sky Blues in the Community for working with us on this too.”

Booking enquiries can be made to Coventry City’s Supporter Services Officer and Disabled Liaison Officer by emailing jodie.jones@ccfc.co.uk

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Noah’s Mum sent us this report of his day with us:

“We were delighted to be invited to the opening and trial of the sensory room at Coventry City Football Club on Saturday 19/2/2022. This is something we have been looking forward to and asking the club about for a number of months and we knew that they were working hard behind the scenes to design a safe environment for children and young people with physical and nuerodiverse disabilities and challenges.  

“Noah is 4 years old and is non-verbal autistic with learning disabilities, he also has a sensory processing disorder and finds busy and noisy environments overwhelming. Noah loves to watch Match of the Day on repeat at home, I really noticed this a lot more when the Euros was on the telly in 2021, Noah was excitedly stimming with his arms and hands up and down, he seemed mesmerised by the football going across the green grass, colours are a big thing for Noah, he reacts differently to various colours.

“There are a lot of activities I’m finding hard to do as Noah is getting bigger and older, and I was so upset at the thought of Noah never being able to experience a football game with his Grandad or my partner, you sort of accept from sad experiences, that there are a lot of things that your child will not be able to be included in with their disability, and its hard for all the family, so to hear that the sensory room was going to happen at CCFC really meant a lot to us all, more than the game itself, to be included and to share the experience as a family was seriously exciting.

“When we arrived for the Coventry vs Barnsley game we met the Sensory room staff at reception, they were so welcoming. Noah uses a special needs pushchair as he cannot walk far with his splints or weighted boots and that wasn’t an issue to take in either.

“Just as we arrived Gustavo Hamer (… he only cost us a million…) was also in reception and happily posed for a photo with a sleepy Noah – I was laughing as Noah couldn’t stop yawning, I think my partner was more star struck, Hamer was lovely, we have a very funny photo of that Noah yawn and Hamer!

“We were taken in a lift to the cooperate area of the stadium and the sensory staff stayed with us & showed us the way to the room. We were informed the staff would be there for our every need and they did not leave our side. We were then taken into the sensory room and we gasped as it was so well thought out. The room was divided into two halves, there was a sensory part of the room on the right which was darker with soft play equipment, a large LED illuminated bubble lamp, and lots of seats and places Noah could escape to and relax. The other half of the room was set out with chairs in view of the football pitch which was right in front of the window, such a perfect view! We could also open the door across so Noah could see the game and experience the atmosphere when he wanted to. We were absolutely amazed how much he loved that part, he kept walking to the door, building up his confidence to go outside and embrace the full experience!

“Dave Allcock, the sensory assistant from Sky Blues in the Community, was fantastic, a real asset to the team, and he was very calming and knew everything about the facilities and where we could get refreshments, and he gave Noah lots of space to explore.

“There was a wet room facility in the sensory room, so we could change Noah and a bathroom also, crayons, paper and lots of toys available.

“Coventry scored a 93rd minute winner which Noah witnessed sitting on our lap, it was his first ever goal and he started to clap, he gave me his first ever kiss which I captured on video, it was such a special day, which we will never forget.

“The staff helped us leave the sensory room and we got the lift downstairs and they assisted us getting to the front door entrance. I would highly recommend trying the sensory room at CCFC with your child or young adult if you’re a parent or carer, it really is a unique, safe, and calming experience to watch football.

"I would of never of thought Noah would of entertained watching 90 minutes of a football game within a stadium! We are so grateful thank you so much CCFC for making this dream come true."

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