Ipswich Town Football Club
Ipswich Town Football Club (ITFC) is a professional football club playing in the Championship division of the English Football League. The football club has 13,000 season ticket holders and club members, and an aggregate attendance of over 400,000 each year. The club plays an important role in the community with activities including support for local charities, schools and hospitals / hospices. As part of its community work, the club promotes literacy to children, and runs sports-related activities for children and adults. Ex-players have also been involved in ‘Sporting Reminiscence’ activities at the local Sue Ryder synergy cafes and at an ITFC Tea Party.
- 11 January 2019
- East of England
- Hospitality, Other, Recreation
- Local Alliances:
- Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance
1. Action Plan
1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?
Ipswich Town Football Club supports the town of Ipswich working towards being a dementia friendly community. It also supports the #TeamDementiaFriends campaign.
The fan base of the football club includes an aging population. Increasing awareness of the support which may be required for elderly fans (including those living with dementia) by holding ‘Dementia Friends’ sessions with customer-facing staff and matchday stewards will make a huge difference to our engagement with elderly fans. It will enhance their matchday experience as well as their experiences on a day-to-day basis with the club (e.g. shopping, purchasing tickets). It will also encourage and enable those living with dementia – and their carers - to continue to enjoy supporting Ipswich Town in as comfortable environment as possible.
Sporting reminiscence is a great way to bring elderly fans together to talk about their football experiences and memories. ITFC supports this through Tea Parties and the attendance of ex-players at ‘sporting memories’ activities.
Working with our Supporters Club we will also increase awareness amongst our supporter base, by promoting #TeamDementiaFriends and related activities at all our activities throughout the year, including at every home matchday in the club’s Fanzone (see Action 4).
2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?
We have a mixture of full time staff and staff who only work on a matchday (some of these being agency staff). It can be a challenge to ensure that the majority of staff and stewards receive training - a number of sessions may therefore be required over an extended period.
The very nature of a football club, stadium and match day with thousands of people attending can be confusing to many attending including the elderly. The club is a familiar environment, but it can also be daunting, especially as iterative changes are made in areas such as signage, facilities and arrangements for the movement of spectators around the premises. Engaging with such fans and their carers will provide us with important information that we can use to plan future actions and help to ensure that they have a comfortable day.
Improve our understanding of Dementia
We aim to increase the understanding of Dementia amongst our senior management and customer-facing staff. This will help our staff to be in a better position to recognise and respond to the needs of ITFC’s supporters and their carers.
As a first step, our PR manager and a Director of Ipswich Town plc took part in a dementia awareness session as part of the “Make Ipswich Dementia Friendly” Campaign. Our PR Manager also wore a GERT suit around Ipswich Town centre which provided an insight into what it is like to be elderly dealing with various conditions. This has secured senior management buy-in to our proposed activities.
As a follow up to this, we will arrange, on an ongoing basis, Dementia Friends awareness sessions for our customer-facing staff and matchday stewards to ensure a greater understanding of dementia and how it affects individuals. This will enable our staff to better deal with elderly fans including those living with dementia.
Two sessions have already been held for ITFC staff with a session for matchday stewards planned for 14thJanuary 2017.
To join and participate in our Local Dementia Action Alliance
We are committed to supporting our local community in its plans to become a dementia friendly town. By joining the Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance, we can demonstrate our commitment to this. ITFC brings together many thousands of Ipswich residents regularly throughout the year, which represents an ideal opportunity to increase awareness of this initiative.
A representative of the football club will contribute to and take part in our Local Dementia Action Alliance, attending meetings plus contributing ideas and assistance.
ITFC commits to being open to further initiatives that progress the objectives of the IDAA.
As part of the “Make Ipswich Dementia Friendly campaign, we hosted a Sporting Memories tea party in conjunction with the East of England Co-op. Guests included elderly fans and ex-players, including some living with dementia, with invites going to some living in their own homes and care homes. A number of ex-players and volunteers came along to talk to the guests with photos, newspapers, old footballs and boots being used to aid discussion. Tea, cake and sandwiches were provided.
Several members of ITFC staff and ex-players have contributed to similar events outside of the football club, for example at the Sue Ryder Synergy Cafes, to widen our outreach beyond those who engage directly with the football club. .
These events proved to be very successful and we will be looking at other similar opportunities during 2017.
Work with the Ipswich Town Supporters Club (ITSC)
ITSC is a separate organisation, albeit linked to ITFC, and comprises an organisation of volunteers which aims to promote the football club, for example by organising public events involving current and ex-players, and by ensuring active engagement of fans with the football club on a wide range of issues.
The football club aims to promote the objectives of the IDAA to and through ITSC, as this has been identified as a route to engage fans who are already committed to our community and charitable activities.