Plans for a Sensory Hub at the Technique Stadium are well underway. Jane Cooper, who is a director of the club and a trustee of the Community Trust, has played an instrumental role in the project. She was a guest on BBC Radio Sheffield earlier this week to talk about the plans.
The following information provides an outline of the plans…
What is it?
• The Chesterfield FC Community Trust Sensory Hub is a stand-alone building which will be located opposite the entrance to Chester’s Den.
• It will be a safe, quiet space with sensory equipment and sensory lighting. There will also be a Sensory Garden to the rear.
Who is it for?
• The Hub is intended for the use of autistic people who need a quiet space to retreat from the noisy, often chaotic environment of a football ground. It will also benefit autistic people and people with profound and multiple learning disabilities in the wider community..
• It will support autistic youngsters to access the Community Trust’s activities and alternative education provision.
• It will link with the Trust’s social prescribing initiative
• It will be a community resource, open for members of the wider community to hire on an hourly basis.
• It will be a welcome alternative to Chester’s Den who find the play centre environment challenging.
Why do we need it?
• Autistic people can often be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, textures, tastes and smells of the world around them and they can become ‘overloaded’ with information.
• This can lead to a ‘meltdown’ or ‘shutdown’ often meaning that they find it difficult to access busy and noisy environments such as a football stadium.
• This impacts on their life and that of their family, friends and those who support them.
• At Chesterfield FC, our vision is to be THE most accessible football club in the country and providing the Sensory Hub will be a step towards achieving this vision. The Football Association motto is ‘For All’ and we intend to make that a reality.
Where are we now?
• The design of the Sensory Hub has been agreed and will be supplied by Rise Adapt.
• We have planning permission from the local authority who have commended this provision.
• We are now applying to funding bodies for the circa £60,000 it will cost to create the Sensory Hub and the sensory garden to the rear. Other fundraising initiatives are likely to follow.
• In the longer term we want to create a quiet viewing area of the pitch on matchdays.
• A full access audit of the site is underway which will identify other ways in which we can improve.