A room is available at Nottingham Racecourse to provide a safe and quiet space, should you need to use it on a race day. It has tables, chairs, and racing can be viewed on the television screens.
Permanent race day staff at Nottingham Racecourse have become Dementia Friends. They have also undertaken awareness sessions in autism and sensory conditions, general anxiety disorder and PTSD.
Small changes have been made across the racecourse to make it more welcoming for those living with conditions such as dementia, including black mats being replaced with astroturf, colour coordinating equipment in disabled toilets, and the removal of mirrors in the #GoRacingGreen Room.
A guide designed to provide reassurance to those with invisible illnesses can be found here: https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/globalassets/racecourses/nottingham/visitor-info/nottingham-racecourse-invisible-access-statement-pdf.pdf
An online sensory guide written specifically for the racecourse can be found here:
Nottingham was the first racecourse in Britain to set aside a room to provide a quiet and safe environment for anyone of any age with an invisible illness or disability.
The move is part of the #GoRacingGreen initiative, which supports those with a range of conditions that include, but are not exclusive to, dementia, autism, ADHD and general anxiety disorder, and was pioneered by Debbie Matthews, who blogs under the name Novice Filly.
Explaining the background to the project, Knox says: “I’d always had the idea that I wanted our staff to be trained on hidden disabilities and be more aware of their implications, but we’re not experts in this field and don’t pretend to be, so before we started on the room I contacted Debbie.
She visited the site for a course walk to identify an area that would be suitable for use as a #GoRacingGreen room, and we picked a place at one end of the Paddock Bar, which is quite close to the main entrance, accessible to the parade ring, track and food, drink and toilet facilities but at the same time sufficiently far away from track that it can be a closed area.
But it soon became obvious there were other things we had to change. For instance, at the main entrance we had large black welcome mats, which to someone with dementia could be regarded as a hole, which they could be fearful of stepping across. Inside, the room we identified was painted white but that was too bright, and there were mirrors, which are not useful for people with dementia. It was the same in the disabled toilet facility, where a white bowl and a white seat don’t work for someone who has a form of dementia.
We wouldn’t have known about any of these issues without Debbie’s input. She had attended our staff training session in March, speaking initially about hidden disabilities but then relating her own experiences and issues she faced around mental health, how the horse had helped her through some difficult times and what the #GoRacingGreen initiative was about.
That was when I realised this was what I wanted to do. She inspired me 100 per cent. Anyone who has met her cannot fail to be inspired, and she deserves all the credit, after launching this as a venture which started with one Tweet about her love of the steeplechaser Altior and how she was going to Ascot to see him run. It’s snowballed from there into a movement in its own right.”