What Is The Shippey Campaign?

• We’re just two neurotypical parents and lifelong football fans, Kate Shippey MBE & Peter Shippey MBE, who had a great idea.

• Peter Shippey MBE was a Press Officer at Sunderland AFC from 1996 to 1999. We’ve both been regular season ticket holders since the early 1990’s.

• We have 3 children diagnosed with autism. As there is no history of autism in our family, this has changed our lives.

• We innovated the groundbreaking concept of Sensory Viewing Rooms in Sports Stadia in 2014. Our sons are the inspiration behind this.

• We give all our help and advice voluntarily, and don’t sell any sensory equipment.

• Our idea has now gone worldwide.

• We do this because of our love for our sons, are very proud of our idea/concept, and have a passion for helping families affected by sensory difficulties.

• The Shippey Campaign is a registered charity (1166989).


1692163570 Mr Peter Shippey MBE & Mrs Kathryn Shippey MBE Picture date: 26 November 2019. Copyright: PA Photos NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT OF PA PHOTOS : 020 7963 7305.

Peter Shippey MBE & Kate Shippey MBE are parents of three children all diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Nathan, Owen & Callum. This can present challenges to daily living that neurotypical people take for granted.

Our eldest son Nathan developed a love of football. As a result he was desperate to visit our local stadium to watch a ‘live’ match. We explained to him that it would become very busy and very noisy but still he wanted to go.

So, in May 2014, armed with ear defenders, headphones with his favourite music, hats, ear plugs and a bag filled with his favourite comforters, off he went with dad, Peter, to his first match.

It wasn’t successful.

Nathan had been very excited when he’d arrived at the big stadium, but by the time the second half was kicking off we were on our way home. Nathan had been unable to cope with the noise and atmosphere inside the ground due to his autism. His mam, Kate, came back to collect us early from the game and Nathan was devastated.

We as parents thought that was it, he couldn’t cope with being inside a noisy stadium, so that was that.

However that is just where the story begins. Over the following weeks, Nathan continued to watch the football on the television and to our surprise asked if he could to go back again. He was desperate to return to the stadium to watch the team play ‘live’.

We knew he couldn’t cope with the noise so we decided to purchase season tickets in an area of the stadium where there was a big lounge, so that Nathan could go into it if he was struggling with the noise and atmosphere, and then when he had settled down, we could go back out into the main bowl of the stadium.

So first game of the 2014/15 season and we were on our way to the match hopeful that we had solved Nathan’s problems.

We hadn’t. Same problems, same result.

So that night, we, Peter and Kate Shippey, had a ‘eureka’ moment!

We came up with the idea for a sensory viewing room to watch ‘live’ sport from.

Had anyone done this before? No

Had anybody even thought of doing this before? No.

‘Wow!’ we thought. We might be onto something here!

So we asked the club if they provided facilities for people with sensory needs to watch the match.

They didn’t….

…so we suggested our idea to the club. Our proposal was to provide a sensory viewing room for those with sensory difficulties to watch a ‘live’ match in.

(The email that we sent to the club, and the consequent email response, are included at the bottom, to prove that the idea is from Peter and Kate Shippey.)

So we met with the club and discussed Nathan’s situation. That’s when the campaign really started.

We compiled a 3000+ signature petition, targeted around the local special schools in the area, we gained numerous emails of support and used the Equality Act 2010 to encourage the club to listen to us.

We met regularly at the club and after a year of discussions, meetings, plans, signature collecting, emailing, research and decision making, we are very proud to announce that our campaign has had its first success!

The Nathan Shippey Sensory Room (named after our son) at Sunderland AFC has been installed. It is the first sensory room of its kind where people (young and old) can watch a match ‘live’!

The room was opened for the first home game of the 2015/16 season and has been a resounding success.

The room has been used by both adults and children, and also by away fans as well as home fans.

It has various pieces of sensory equipment in there and following the end of the first full season in there, we Peter and Kate Shippey are the only two people who have the experience of being in there all match, every match.

The room has been checked by experts in the field of sensory needs and we now know the balance of what to, and what not to put in there. How much equipment, what equipment works and what sort of capacities you are looking at depending on the size of the room available.

Some clubs we have talked to have already been considering how they could use such a facility on non-matchdays as well, so our concept is gaining momentum all the time.

From being unable to take Nathan to the match, now we can!

And there are many, many, more people in Nathan’s situation.

We wanted the room to benefit as many different people as possible and it certainly has. It has a capacity of 3 fans who require the facility plus a parent or carer each. The room has been full all season and had a waiting list for it towards the end of the season when awareness of the room increased.

As the creators of the idea, the Shippey Campaign has now gained charity status (reg. No. 1166989) and we are now looking to get our concept rolled out nationwide and even into other sports.

We have been heavily involved with each permanent sensory viewing room in clubs and following the development at Sunderland AFC, we are thrilled to say that our contact with Notts County came to fruition with the development of three sensory viewing rooms which opened on 3rd September 2016 and Watford FC opened the first sensory viewing room in the South of England on 10th December 2016. On 18th February 2017, the first sensory room in Scottish football opened at Airdrieonians FC, which we are very proud to be part of. Following on, more recently, we were thrilled to be a huge part of Middlesbrough’s fantastic facility which officially opened on the 19th March and of course the ball keeps rolling in Scotland with a second Scottish club. Our sixth club was Rangers FC after we met and hosted representatives in January 2016, their room, Broxis Den opened its doors on the 1st April 2017, this was followed by Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar – in preparation for the Qatar World Cup 2022, following a presentation that we did at the Beyond Sport event in London in October 2016, we met with three architects who were in the process of discussing stadia in Qatar. We were thrilled to receive an email thanking us for our presentation and sharing the wonderful news of the first room in Qatar.

West Bromwich Albion and Southampton are another two clubs to add to our list of achievements.

The next club to provide outstanding facilities were Arsenal FC who have been an absolute pleasure to support, guide and advise. They opened their two viewing rooms and a wonderful sensory haven on 25th September 2017, at which we were honoured to be in attendance.

Also in 2017 Everton had their room fitted out by Experia. We visited Everton a couple of times before they applied for the grant and created their facility.

Celtic FC were next to invite us to their stadium to discuss creating facilities, after being in contact with the club for a long period of time. Here is their press release: http://www.celticfc.net/news/13530

Followed by the announcement of the opening of Liverpool FC’s room: https://www.levelplayingfield.org.uk/news/liverpool-fc-launch-sensory-room-anfield

Crystal Palace joined the clubs making their stadium accessible to those with sensory difficulties, by developing two rooms, one with a view.

In May 2018 Chelsea Football Club opened their sensory viewing room. Following email contact from ourselves and having initially contacted Diane Piggott, we were passed to Jamie Gray and supported them, answering any questions they needed guidance with.

Making a North East hat trick, Newcastle United have now developed a sensory room – a new addition for season 2018/19

The 16th September 2018 was a day to remember for us as Peter travelled to Coventry to attend a launch at the Ricoh Arena. Wasps rugby club opened their sensory viewing room! This was to be the first sensory viewing room in the world of rugby – another huge breakthrough for The Shippey Campaign.

During 2019 there was further progression with Tottenham, Brighton and Manchester City opening their rooms.

For the Premier League clubs, we have now joined in Partnership with BT, The Premier League and Lords Taverners, who have put aside a grant for each Premier League club to apply for to create a sensory viewing space in their stadium! We have been in contact with every EFL club, every SPL club and national stadiums in the UK. We are not stopping at Great Britain either! we have had contact from The New Perth Stadium in Australia and had enquiries from Qatar, Hong Kong, France, Germany and we have recently welcomed a USA Ambassador on our team.

We think our idea should be ‘the norm’ in all stadia everywhere.

The focus has always in the past been on physical disability and wheelchair access.

We want people to focus on mental health conditions as well, so often overlooked, but something that needs to change and we hope the Shippey Campaign are the inspiration behind that.

Email sent:

17/09/2014 @ 3.13pm

Dear Maureen,

‘… It would be extremely beneficial to the families of those children with special needs for the club to have a designated viewing area, eg a room with a window looking out to the pitch and a door from the corridor, but not a door to the terraces. It would also be useful for the room to have soft play/sensory equipment in case the children need calming. We have found that wheelchair supporters are catered for, but disabled supporters with other conditions such as autism spectrum disorder aren’t as well catered for…’

Best Regards Peter and Kate Shippey

Email received:

18/09/2014 @ 11.14am

Dear Kate and Peter

‘Thank you for your email, Maureen has asked me to contact you. We appreciate your suggestion and I will put this forward to club management as an idea for the future. The installation of a screen room would have to be considered for next season…’

Kind Regards Chris

32 thoughts on “What Is The Shippey Campaign?

  1. I just want to say how impressed I am with the Shippey family and the club for organising this project. I hope this becomes widely known.

    Well done to everyone involved!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done to the Shippey family for organising this campaign, and to SAFC for putting this project in place, lots of people on ASD will benefit for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter, Nathan and the Shippey family. What a brilliant concept and campaign you have created to provide match day inclusion for fans with sensory requirements. Would love to help you progress the campaign further with our close assistance. I have also contacted Chris Waters at Sunderland along the same lines, so hopefully we will get the chance to meet and discuss your campaign and how we might help. My contact details are M – 07780 450500 and E – shaun@sensoryguru.co.uk Hope to speak with you shortly. Best wishes, Shaun Fallon – Sensory Guru Ltd.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike Ayres Design are proud to be involved in this pioneering project. We have installed many Sensory Rooms in so many different locations, all over the world, but this was certainly the first within a football stadium and we hope that it is not the last.
    As a football fan and father, I have experienced the distress that attending a football match in a crowded stadium can be for some. When I took my daughter to her first game at Portman Road, she enjoyed the excitement of the journey to the ground, the pre-match entertainment, the build up to kickoff, but when the ref blew his whistle to start the match the excitement turned to stress and anxiety (and it wasn’t because of the quality of football Ipswich were playing) it was the level of noise, the sudden shouts, and screams, the passion that most fans love. We only managed to stay for the first 15 – 20 minutes before it was just too much.
    My daughter is not diagnosed with ASD or have any additional needs, and so I can only imagine how extra distressing the experience of attending a live football match could be for some.
    How brilliant of AFC Sunderland to provide the opportunity for those who love football but struggle with the environment in which it is played to watch their heroes with their families.
    Please keep in touch with Mike Ayres Design and let me know if we can be of further help with the Shippey Campaign.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your support Nick! We certainly will keep in touch with Mike Ayres Design and hopefully will be in contact as the campaign progresses. Mike Ayres Design helped to create a fantastic environment for The Nathan Shippey Sensory Room and it was great working with you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My son Liam who has a diagnoses of ASD and I who are both NEWCASTLE fans (shshsh) please don’t leave any negative feedback .we are feeling a bit tender.We were invited to the derby game as guests of Peter,Kate and Nathan on Sunday 25th of October.You will no doubt know it as six in a row day.I would just like to tell all who will listen what a fantastic experience we had ,apart from the result,never mind there’s always the next time or am I dreaming.Well done SAFC for being the first club to adopt this idea,you are top of the league on this occasion ps I’ve contacted our club and hope to get a response from them shortly . THANKS AGAIN FROM TWO GRATEFUL TOON FANS AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tony! It was an absolute pleasure to have you and Liam in the room with us, although I’m sure, due to the result, we enjoyed the day a little more than you and Liam did!…anyway, we’ll not go too much into that 🙂
      We are thrilled to hear that you have contacted Newcastle United and we hope you get a positive response. Do let us know if you have any difficulties, I’m sure we will be back in contact with them in the (very) near future!


  6. Buonasera, sono senza parole per questo fantastico progetto, è una cosa fantastica, complimenti a tutti quelli che hanno contribuito a far diventare un sogno in realtà.
    Bravi Bravi Bravi
    Udinese Calcio

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw this on the BBC today – what a brilliant idea! We love Everton and my daughter who is only 3 loves watching it on TV with us. I would love to be able to take her one day but worry that it will be too scary for her. She doesn’t have a diagnosis as only young but we query aspergers…if Everton had a room like this I wouldn’t hesitate to take her!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I saw the story on BBC breakfast this morning. What an amazing idea! I have a son with Aspergers Syndrome, who is 24 now, and we struggled to take him anywhere when he was younger with an atmosphere that was over sensitive. Very impressed with Sunderland Football Club and hope to see more of these not only at Premiership clubs but Championship too (as an avid NFFC supporter!).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is amazing well done Sunderland FC, let’s hope all clubs take a leaf out of your brilliant clubs book, my son is Autistic and I’d love to take him to a game, hopefully I will now because of forward thinking clubs like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have just found out about this and am truly excited that it now may be possible to take my 9 year old autistic boy – Nathan to a Sunderland AFC home game, I have emailed Chris today for details….Been parents of ‘our children’ I understand and experienced the difficulties we face in trying to lead full lives, it is people like yourselves who inspire us and give us the hope that everything is possible…thank you so much…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for those kind words Neil. Its taken a lot of hard work, supportive emails, a petition of thousands of signatures etc. & my wife & I got SAFC to install Nathan’s sensory room. Now we want to see our idea go nationwide. Hope to see you in Nathan’s room soon Neil. 👍


  11. Hi, what a fantastic thing you have done to ensure people with the unique nature of autism can access SAFC, we have two boys who have autism and we are looking forward to accessing the room you have worked to secure. My lads are big fans as are yours. Great effort

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well, both Anna and I are still on a high!
    We were lucky enough today to spend time with the Shippey Family in Nathan’s room at the Stadium of Light.
    Peter and Kate, I have nothing but admiration for all you have achieved so far and long may it continue and grow.
    Nathan, you are a little star and an absolute delight, thank you for allowing Anna and I to share a wonderful experience with you, oh and your chips!
    For anyone else lucky enough to share this experience with the family in the future, I can assure you your life will be enriched.

    Thank you thank you thank you, to our new friends, Nathan, Kate and Peter, and thank you to Chris and the team at SAFC. You have made today special not only for Anna (who accosted Jermaine Defoe in the car park, and sang all the way home in the car) but for me too on my birthday!

    Thanks again and hope to see you all soon!

    Ha way the Lads!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mark! It was an absolute pleasure to have you and Anna visit the room, we’re so pleased that you both enjoyed it! It’s families like yours that keep us going and give us the drive to continue with our campaign- when we see the pleasure that others get from seeing a live match in a comfortable and safe environment! So, enjoy the rest of your birthday and we hope to see you again!


  13. Hi, it is very difficult to put into words what yesterday meant to us….to see our son that excited and so happy for that period of time was truly breath-taking, the huge surprise to us was how well he managed with the crowds and the noise and all this was achieved by the hard work, dedication and sheer determination of you both, you are truly an amazing family and a inspiration to all of us…we thank you from the bottom of our heart for that wonderful experience. thank you..!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for those lovely words Neil! We were thrilled that your son had such a positive experience at the match and we were delighted to welcome you all!
      Fingers crossed for many more exciting experiences for your family (and hopefully a better result on the pitch too!)
      It was wonderful to meet you all!


  14. On behalf of my son and myself I would like to thank Chris Waters and Peter and Nathan Shippey for giving us the opportunity to attend a football match with my two grandsons, Adam who is autistic and his brother Mathew. Although Mathew has attended a game with his dad the England v Australia game was the first we have been able to attend as a family, something I am sure the boys will remember for a long time. The experience, for me, gave more pleasure than attending an international game. Our very best wishes to Peter and Kate to extend this facility to other venues.

    Ken Parker


  15. Great idea my son is 8 on the spectrum and goes to watch his local team Larne most weeks and they are so welcoming and supportive down to the manager giving Joel a wave or hello most weeks. The long term dream is to go to goodison park for a match would love Everton to provide these facilites


    1. Thanks for your support Lea! It’s wonderful that your local team is so welcoming! We love to hear that!
      We can also tell you that we have spoken to Everton at length- we have also been invited to speak to them to discuss our idea/concept in February this year. We are now in advanced talks with the Premier League in an aim to roll it out nationwide. Here’s hoping we can continue with a breakthrough at Everton and help fulfill yours and Joels dream.
      We aim to make this a standard facility in stadiums- everyone should be able to attend live matches without restriction! Thanks again for your support!


  16. Hi – i was delighted to see the report on Look North about your campaign and the wonderful progress you have made. I am an exercise therapist (hold a MPhil in Psychology and am an Advanced Fitness Instructor with special interest in mental health, long term health conditions and cancer) and have been working with a teenage girl with dual diagnosis of autism and bipolar disorder. There is little available across the board but particularly for young adults. We have developed a series of exercises and a daily routine that she is finding helps her to feel calm, cope better and she has massively improved her posture, body awareness and confidence.
    Well done with all you are doing. Perhaps we could chat sometime?!

    Liked by 1 person

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