Community Support: Freeman Brothers at Horsham FC

Freeman Brothers has been operating as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, since 1855. The company now has a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and employs a team of local people who offer the highest standards of customer service. Part of the business’s ongoing commitment involves supporting community activities. […]

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Freeman Brothers has been operating as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, since 1855. The company now has a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and employs a team of local people who offer the highest standards of customer service. Part of the business’s ongoing commitment involves supporting community activities. Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, shares an announcement of a new partnership with Horsham Football Club…

Last year, I visited the Brighton and Hove Albion stadium in Falmer and discovered that, thanks to the support of a sponsor, they provide period products free of charge in the women’s toilets, I wondered whether any other clubs locally offer this. Menstruation is a topic which is still heavily stigmatised, and there have also been campaigns during the last few years regarding ‘period poverty’ – the fact that some people who menstruate struggle to afford the necessary or optimal products to support their cycle. This has sadly been compounded by the recent changes in the economy, with charity, Bloody Good Period, seeing a significant increase in demand for support during 2022 and 2023.

Additionally, professional and amateur sporting environments have historically been unwelcoming towards women and girls, with poor toilet provision being a factor impacting their attendance and participation. As a regular attendee at a variety of sporting events – from cricket to equestrianism, as well as football – I can support this finding; in my experience, facilities vary significantly in terms of location, cleanliness and more. Offering products free of charge via public toilets is a great way of supporting people to attend matches, as it is more common than you might think to be ‘caught out’ and not have any necessary supplies.

The first organisation to respond (and very enthusiastically) to my proposal, was Horsham FC. I discussed the idea with Sam, one of the club’s Directors, and he gave me some important information which helped the partnership to move forward.

He shared that, not only does the club have public toilets for those attending as spectators, but there are also of course dressing rooms for the players, plus a specific changing room for female referees. We ensured that I had everything I needed in order to help the club get set up with supplies for all facilities – including disabled toilets – and we were ready to go.

One of the factors to consider setting up these ‘caught short kits’ is what the level of usage might be. For larger venues such as the Brighton and Hove stadium, I can imagine there is a necessity to restock the kits frequently, but for smaller venues such as Horsham, we are going to monitor how many items are needed and make sure there are always plenty available.

Like many other sports venues, Horsham FC is a multi-purpose stadium now: Sam informed me that not only does the club host business networking events, but it is also the home to other teams who use the venue. Additionally, since we originally spoke, Horsham FC is also setting up a women’s team, so all the more reason to support the players and staff!

It’s happened to be a particularly timely partnership as, for several reasons, menstrual health has been highlighted in the media during the last two summers. Thanks to tennis players speaking out prior to and during the Wimbledon Championships – as the AELTC specified an all-white dress code which only changed for the 2023 competition – about experiencing additional stress due to their periods, and England footballers then following the conversation during the European Championships – in 2022, their shorts were still white and, when their kit for the 2023 World Cup was announced, these had duly been changed to a dark colour.

We have kept a supply of period products in our office toilets for some time, following feedback from colleagues that this would be appreciated. It’s great to now be able to extend this offer in a more public space, supporting participation and attendance at sporting events (and other events held at a sporting venue) in the area.

Caught Short Kits were set up just in time, as Horsham FC’s first friendly took place yesterday: Becky visited earlier this week, meeting with Match Secretary, Annie, to ensure that the facilities were fully-stocked. The Club will be keeping an eye on how many products are needed – this is one of the challenges of setting the scheme up, that we are uncertain as to the level of demand until it gets going. However, they and we are committed to maintaining this important offering, and so we will aim to keep supplies available.

It should be an exciting season ahead, and we hope that the Women’s World Cup – which starts this weekend – further inspires attendance at our local club.

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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

July 19, 2023

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