The Madejski Stadium Dementia Café -serving up more than just tea to the local community

Thanks to fans’ Season Ticket donations to Community Trust projects, dementia-sufferers will be able to use our Trust’s café sessions as soon as it is safe to open once more…

The Dementia Café in partnership with Reading Football Club Community Trust and Age UK Berkshire was set up as a pilot scheme in February 2020 seeing around 20 participants, many with their family or their carers, visit the café at Madejski Stadium during two-hour long open sessions.

The aim of the Café is to invite local people suffering with dementia to the stadium for a cup of tea with someone who understands.

Highly-skilled staff can give information to those dropping by and help signpost participants to other available support services for those tackling the challenge of dementia.

As part of the sessions, staff members from the club have been on hand to talk about the history of the club, the highs and lows of seasons gone by and even a few past players have attended – all helping to rekindle memories for those who might be struggling with the condition.

These are small offerings. But they can make a huge difference. When you or someone you know has dementia, these cafés provide a safe and supportive place for people to:

  • discuss their own dementia diagnosis, or someone else’s, and think about what it means for the future
  • get answers from health professionals and meet and learn from other people in similar situations
  • keep active, make new friends and feel more confident.

The pandemic hit hard and these services will prove more important than ever for many people once the Demecntia Café is able to relaunch.

This week sees the start of the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action across football. Level Playing Field believes that being a disabled person is a social issue and that an individual only becomes disabled because of the social, attitudinal and environmental barriers that the individual faces.

Their efforts are focussed on removing these barriers in all sports.

And thanks to the Community Trust donations made by Royals fans who generously opted to move their outstanding 2019-20 Season Ticket money to support community projects such as the Dementia Café, out Trust are able to open the Cafe’s doors again when it is next safe to do so.

The Dementia Café will be open once or twice a month with residents from the whole of Berkshire given the opportunity to attend through Age UK Berkshire.

The Community Trust are passionate about providing needed services for participants of all ages, working in partnership with local and national charities – and the Dementia Café is a great example of how the power of the football club can bring much pleasure to both individuals and their families who are effected by dementia.

Disability charity Level Playing Field are celebrating their 17th ‘Weeks of Action’ campaign this year, which aims to showcase the good work being done by clubs and organisations to improve accessibility and inclusion across all sports.

As with fans, Level Playing Field will be absent from the terraces this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which means they will be taking their campaign virtual for the first time ever!

To support the campaign, Reading Football Club are getting involved by helping our disabled supporters learn about Level Playing Field and understand what they do, what their aims are to improve accessibility and inclusion, and how they can assist disabled fans.

Who are ‘Level Playing Field’?

Level Playing Field are a sports charity that act as a campaigning and advisory organisation for disabled sports fans. 

The charity supports disabled sports fans through the following channels:

Membership programme
As a user led organisation, Level Playing Field’s members are always at the heart of what they do. Their shared passion for sport and equality really drives them to influence long term change and improve the spectator experience for all disabled fans.

The Level Playing Field ‘Fan’ membership is free to join, and includes the following benefits:

  • Weekly ‘match day’ newsletter with general LPF updates.
  • Quarterly ‘Fan’ specific exclusive newsletter.
  • Invites to take part in annual events such as Weeks of Action and regional/national forums.
  • Official membership Certificate.
  • It’s free to become a member.

Other benefits include:

  • Access to independent, expert advice and guidance on access and inclusion issues.
  • Opportunity to feedback on Access and Inclusion through LPF’s annual survey.
  • Opportunity to network with other disabled fans, fan groups and disability/sports organisations.

To become a Level Playing Field member, click here or contact ben@levelplayingfield.org.uk.

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