Spireites back #RiseForSport accessibility campaign

Chesterfield FC is backing a national campaign urging more sporting venues across the UK to put Changing Places toilets in their grounds for disabled supporters to access.

As one of the first football clubs in the country to install a Changing Places facility in 2013, the Spireites support the #RiseForSport campaign which has been launched by a trio of disabled football fans.

They are hoping to encourage as many people as possible to sign a petition calling for Changing Places toilets to be made mandatory in UK sports venues with a capacity of more than 350 people.

At present, only new builds a with capacity of 350+ people must include a Changing Places facility. The petition calls for this to apply to existing venues, too.

Changing Places toilets, which differ from accessible or standard disabled toilets, provide more space and essential equipment, such as a hoist, height adjustable changing table, and height adjustable sink which help people living with a variety of conditions including paralysis, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

The toilets mean that those who need them can visit places safe in the knowledge that there is a space for them to use the toilet with the dignity that other toilet spaces don’t offer.

And now the club is calling on players and supporters to join them in this campaign and sign the #RiseForSport petition which states it’s a matter of dignity for disabled fans and athletes who often have to make the humiliating choice of risking no access to toilet facilities during their visit to sports fixtures – or not to go at all.

John Croot, chief executive of Chesterfield FC and Chesterfield FC Community Trust, said: “Our community is at the heart of everything we do here at Chesterfield FC and being inclusive and accessible to all is very important to us.

“When I initially heard about Changing Places toilets, back when we were building our community hub which was revolutionary really at the time, I knew there and then we had to make sure we provided this facility and we became only the second football club in the country to have one.

“Over the last decade, the toilet not only provides a suitable facility for our disabled supporters on matchdays but also seven days a week when people come to our stadium for the play area, café or for events that are held here.

“It has allowed us to develop a great relationship with our local special school who can bring their children here safe in the knowledge that there are toilets they can use. In addition, we get people who are travelling perhaps to the Peak District who make a stop off here as part of their journey, so we have become a reliable destination for lots of disabled people.

“As a club we fully support the #RiseForSport campaign because it’s vital that disabled people are able to enjoy taking part in sport and everyday life like the rest of us. It’s inhumane that in 2023 people are still being changed on dirty toilet floors or in the back of cars or even can’t go out at all just because they haven’t got access to a toilet. Disabled people and their families deserve more.

“I can see no reason why existing sporting venues can’t accommodate a changing places facility and I hope as many people as possible will sign the petition. We’d be very happy to talk to any sporting venues who want to find out more about the benefits it has brought to our club.”

To sign the petition visit www.change.org/riseforsport and to show your support of the petition on social media share the link with the hashtag #RiseForSport.

For further information about the campaign, please visit www.riseforsport.co.uk.