For most of us, the Christmas period is one of joy as we break up from work and enjoy time with our friends and family.
For some, it is those in our ‘football family’ that we look to in what can be times of sadness in the lead up to Christmas.
AccessiBlues are a Birmingham City disabled supporters group run by Steve Portman, 40. A wheelchair user and lifelong Bluenose. “The main objective of this group is to stop isolation for people.”
One member of AccessiBlues and a cult hero of the Blues fanbase, Jeremy Crouch, was left devastated after the passing of his mother, Diana, on the 15th of November.
— AccessiBlues – Birmingham City Football Club's DSA (@AccessiBlues) November 16, 2019
Jeremy is known widely by many Bluenoses for his famous roar of “Come on Blues!” everywhere he goes, which happens to be anywhere, every week.
Steve told me about the aims of the group: “We hear of so many disabled people who are sat around at home all week and all they do is go the football.
“That’s why we’re trying to work with those people, get their confidence up and get them involved and eventually ask them to come to the football with us.”
Steve, along-side his colleagues at AccessiBlues, put in countless hours to ensure Jeremy was able to give his mother the send-off he wished for.
Linda Endsor is the mastermind behind closed doors at AccesiBlues. She offered for me to follow the group over the festive period to see how they all come together, made only more poignant this year by the loss of Jeremy’s mother.
A short vlog has been produced on our experiences with AccessiBlues:
“Jeremy is finding life pretty tough, losing his mom.” Linda told me. “Brenda (Jeremy’s carer) is a rock to him, we at AccessiBlues are doing all we can to support them.”
Chairman Steve said: “Linda hasn’t stopped emailing everyone she can, she’s incredible. She’s only been with us since March and has really made a difference for everyone.”
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Because of her, the support offered to Jeremy by the whole Blues community went way beyond expectations.
“It’s great knowing we have support from the people we look up to so much. Any gesture from anyone, not just the known names, are greatly appreciated by our group,” Steve told me.
Vice Chairman Steven Greenway, 62, travels to Small Heath from Tamworth to attend every coffee morning and AccessiBlues event. He told me the message behind the group and how inclusive they are to everyone they meet – disabled or not.
Steven told me: “We also try to help those who may not be able to afford to go to the games, if we can get in touch with someone who can’t afford to go to the games they’re given the opportunity to come with us and be a carer for one of the guys at the football.”
AccessiBlues’ passion for an inclusive environment will hopefully lead to the expansion of the group and become more than just a disabled supporter’s group, but a group of individuals who genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
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READ MORE: TOP 5 AccessiBlues 2019 Highlights