NewsAccessible travel delivers 'amazing' Wembley experience for Reds fans
Liverpool FC helped to provide an 'amazing' experience for several of the club's disabled supporters with specialised travel to the Carabao Cup final last month.
The club aided in offering the use of the Premier League’s dedicated accessible bus – the Jumbulance – for the journey to Wembley to watch the Reds defeat Chelsea on penalties.
It ensured a number of wheelchair users and ambulant supporters, for whom public transport was not an option, could attend the game with their families with a provision that included accessible facilities.
This support formed part of the Level Playing Field (LPF) Weeks of Action, which is currently running from February 26 to March 13 and has the return of fans as its theme.
LPF, a sports charity that acts as a campaigning and advisory organisation for disabled sports fans, works closely with LFC as part of the club’s aims to make Anfield inclusive, accessible and a welcoming place for all.
One of those to make use of the Jumbulance was Jo Garster, whose daughter, Sally, is a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy and a big Reds supporter.
The Garster family explored various options to reach Wembley, but had been left facing a near-10-hour round trip in the car as a last resort.
“The Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA) put a call out asking if there was any interest, it just took the weight off my shoulders,” Jo told Liverpoolfc.com.
“It was so nice to have the experience of someone else taking the responsibility of the travel. Sally was comfy on the bus, I didn’t have to worry at all – it was just amazing. The bus had so many features that you just wouldn’t think of normally.
“It was brilliant, Sally is 13 and she’s never been on a coach before, and she was just dead excited to be on, as weird as it may sound. It was so simple and so obvious, but it really made a difference to our family.
“We’d definitely use it again. It made life so easy for all of us. The preparation was just so good from the club and the LDSA, the Reds then did the business on the pitch and lifted the cup.
“The day was trouble-free because of the Jumbulance and we felt like we were really part of something. Maybe we would’ve felt a little bit different if we hadn’t have done it. Sally is still on a high now, she’s still talking about it. It’s been a real highlight for her.
“It’s just a big thanks to Liverpool and the LDSA for being proactive and understanding the issues that a lot of disabled supporters were facing for the final. They both really met our family’s needs to make it an amazing day. It was a wonderful experience for us all.”
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The coach to and from Wembley helped the day run as smoothly as possible off the pitch, while on it Jürgen Klopp’s team made it even more memorable with a record-breaking ninth League Cup victory.
“All the facilities onboard were fantastic,” said Ann Marie Barton, LDSA treasurer. “I know the club had a big input into finding the Jumbulance. We really appreciate that because a lot of people wouldn’t have been able to get to the game without it, including myself.
“The whole day was fantastic, the drivers understood people’s needs. If a wheelchair user needed to go to the toilet, you had to stop because they have to be unanchored – but nothing was a problem for them.
“Everyone was chatting going down, all telling each other different stories of away games and cup finals we’d all been to.
“If we get to a final again it would be great to use the Jumbulance. It would be perfect, everyone on the trip said that to me. They just loved it. It was a great experience for everyone who hadn’t done anything like that before.”
For more information on Red Together, LFC’s commitment to champion equality, diversity and inclusion, visit liverpoolfc.com/redtogether.