Middlesbrough FC and sensory specialists Experia have boosted the club’s sensory offering with a range of new specialist products at the club’s Riverside Stadium, to enable fans with a range of learning difficulties to enjoy football matches in a specially-designed safe environment.
The sensory products, including a portable sensory unit and a train, have been designed and installed by Experia in the club’s sensory room as part of a nationwide campaign in partnership with charities including The Shippey Campaign.
The equipment will offer fans with sensory and development needs, such as autism, the opportunity to watch their favourite club from the safety of their own calming environment.
Middlesbrough FC was one of the first clubs in the country to install a sensory room at its ground, a move enabled by the launch of the Premier League and BT Sport disability programme which through partnerships with the Lord’s Taverners, The Shippey Campaign and Experia offered every Premier League club the opportunity to have sensory products installed at their ground.
The Middlesbrough-branded portable sensory unit (Portare) was designed and manufactured by sensory specialists Experia and features mirrors, lights, fibre optics, aroma diffusers and projectors. It complements the fidget boxes, sensory lights and specialist sensory books and games already installed in the sensory room for visitors to use on matchday, which offer a calming environment for users with a range of sensory needs, including autism. Staff at the ground are also undertaking training to offer the very best experience for visitors with additional needs.
The club has also invested in a sensory train (Sensory Express), and have a competition planned for the closed-season, when they will be inviting fans to help name the equipment.
Gareth Jones, founder of Experia, said: “We’re excited to get involved in creating products that will help transform users’ lives and give them the chance to cheer on Middlesbrough FC from the comfort of their own calm environment.
“This project is an excellent way of improving sports grounds and offering all football fans the opportunity to enjoy watching their favourite team. This is a great step forward in encouraging clubs across the country to consider ways of improving accessibility within their ground and to ensure everyone can follow football, regardless of their needs.”
Yvonne Ferguson, Middlesbrough FC Head of Supporter Services, said: “The equipment is fantastic and we are so proud of what we have achieved. The response from visitors so far has been incredible and the interest and support from parents and organisations has been amazing.
“We are going to continue looking at ways to improve our Matchday Sensory Room so that more and more fans can benefit from the excellent facilities and have the opportunity to enjoy matches at the Riverside in a safe and comfortable environment.”
Experia has been at the forefront of the sensory industry for more than ten years. Based in Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire, the company works with teachers, occupational therapists and health professionals and designs, manufactures and installs sensory equipment, creating products to assist those with sensory development. The company designed and installed a sensory room for Watford FC in December 2016 as part of this national project spearheaded by the Shippey Foundation.