Over the past two seasons, Wrexham Football Club and Wrexham Supporters’ Trust (WST) have been working hard towards their aim of becoming a dementia friendly football club and sporting venue.
Working closely with Jo Lane - the dementia friendly communities’ co-ordinator for North Wales - Stuart Roberts, a member of the WST board, will be at The Racecourse on Saturday the 11th of March to accept official recognition from The Alzheimer’s Society for our work towards becoming dementia friendly. We are the first football club in Wales to receive such recognition.
It is not just a reward for our club who have worked tirelessly and continue to lead the way in our aim to make football accessible and inclusive. The club has also supported and encouraged the setting up of “Dementia Friendly Wrexham” steering group and has two members of AFC on the steering group along with representation from the Town Council, the NHS, Glyndwr University, both local and national retailers, local faith and voluntary organisations and it is operating under the guidance of The Alzheimer’s Society to make Wrexham a Dementia Friendly Community.
Part of the recognition process for the club was to meet certain criteria. To do this, we have targeted awareness. This was achieved by committing to providing Dementia Friends awareness sessions to anyone interested that is involved in the match day experience. Initially this involved WST board members and club volunteers attending sessions and then moving on to Dementia Friends “Champion” training so that we can deliver these sessions in house and not have to rely on a third party. At present we have Dementia Friends on the club and WST boards, in the office and club shop and almost all of the first team squad. The new arrivals since January will be invited to attend a session soon. Obviously, the pubs around the ground are also a big part of the match day experience, as is Chris De Burger’s burger van all of whom have shown their support. A special thanks to Chris De Burger who was the first person outside of the club to attend a session.
Another important factor in achieving official status was a survey of The Racecourse to assess any issues that may be encountered by someone living with dementia. This was carried out by a person living with dementia. The experience was very positive with the advice and guidance gratefully received. The few minor details which were highlighted are being addressed.
As a football club we already run a dementia reminiscence group held in the executive boxes on the last Friday of each month. This project is run by club volunteers in partnership with The Alzheimer’s Society and has been a huge success.
Future plans to remain as dementia friendly as reasonably possible, are in place and include regular Dementia Friends sessions. These will be included as part of the Racecourse stewards’ induction and training package as well as some new dementia friendly signage in and around the ground. Sessions are being offered to current club sponsors with management and staff from AEC Engineering attending a session recently. DTCC are due to attend a session this week and Ifor Williams Trailers are due to confirm their attendance later this week.
It's great to see large local employers such as DTCC showing commitment to this initiative. They have committed to supply a trainer to attend a session and then the Champion training, so that they can then deliver the sessions as part of their own company induction. It is our aim to suggest this strategy to all companies linked to the football club.
It is possible to live well with dementia and we can ALL help!