Chesterfield Football Club has announced that 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 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.
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 be a community resource, open for members of the wider community to hire on an hourly basis and will be a welcome alternative to Chester’s Den who find the play centre environment challenging.
Why is the Sensory Hub needed?
• 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.
The design of the Sensory Hub has been agreed and will be supplied by Rise Adapt. The club has planning permission from the local authority who have commended this provision. Chesterfield FC Community Trust is 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.
A statement on the Chesterfield FC Community Trust website said: “Chesterfield FC’s 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.
“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.”
Chesterfield Football Club supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 190 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.