Football clubs team up for pioneering scheme

Sheffield City Council launches a new campaign working with Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, Sheffield and Hallam Football Association and the Yorkshire Sport Foundation to encourage people with hidden disabilities to attend football matches.

The Team Up! initiative will provide support to people with mental health problems and other hidden disabilities so that everyone, regardless of their needs gets a warm welcome and positive response. Employees including stewards, ticket office staff and shop staff will receive awareness training.

The initiative is the first of its kind and has been welcomed by the English Football League and Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

The scheme is launched during South Yorkshire Safeguarding week, 9 – 16 July, and has been developed in consultation with parents, carers, children and young people and vulnerable adults along with stewards and officials who regularly attend football matches.

Jane Haywood, Chair of Sheffield’s Safeguarding Board, said:

“Sheffield is the place where football started and where everyone counts.  Through our safeguarding partnership we are working closely with the clubs, so that people with mental health and other types of additional needs are all equally recognised and responded to in the same way that we have measures in place to safeguard spectators with physical disabilities.  We are very proud of our local football clubs who are developing the initiative.”

The Owls Safeguarding Officer, Matt Foster, added:

“The Team UP! Initiative is a great way of supporting fans with hidden disabilities to attend football matches. The collaboration allows expertise to be shared amongst the group. At Sheffield Wednesday we are proud to support a diverse fan base and are committed to improving access to all.”

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Sheffield City Council, said:

“During World Cup fever it’s fantastic to see this innovative project launch in Sheffield, the home of football.  ‘The Team Up’ programme will enable all vulnerable children, young people and adults with hidden disabilities to enjoy the exciting experience of attending football matches and supporting their teams.  Many thanks to all involved especially the wonderful staff and clubs in Sheffield.”