Supporters attending the London Irish v Newcastle Falcons match on Saturday will notice a difference in the Exiles’ squad attire during the game, as the players will be adorning purple socks rather than their usual green in order to mark Purple Sock Day and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The London Irish Foundation is hosting a festival of sports inclusion at Gunnersbury Park before the match where over 200 participants with disabilities will enjoy a host of activities including rugby netball, walking football, new age curling, goal ball, boccia and cornhole.

After the festival, all guests will head over the A4 to the Gtech Community Stadium to watch the Gallagher Premiership clash, with the festival participants taking part in the pre-match Guard of Honour.

The London Irish playing squad will wear purple socks on the day as a simple act to raise positive awareness of disability inclusion and show support for disabled people.

Purple Sock Day is an initiative ran by Parallel, a social enterprise which supports the disabled community to live life to the full in mainstream society.

Disabled people face a much higher unemployment rate than those without disabilities. Issues including accessibility in the workplace, lack of flexibility in hours and working conditions and discrimination are cited by disabled people looking for jobs.

The Purple Sock Day Fund sponsors budding entrepreneurs to complete a Launchpad course with Hatch Enterprise, an organisation helping under-represented entrepreneurs to develop their own businesses.

Supporters can show solidarity with the disabled community by emulating the players and buying a pair of purple socks from the London Irish Fan Store on Saturday. The socks are made by the British sustainable fashion brand BAM and a pair costs £6, with 50% of the profits going towards Parallel and re-invested into growing Purple Sock Day 2023, and the other 50% going to the London Irish Foundation to support its work across the disabled community.

London Irish Foundation Chief Executive Andy Keast said: “We are pleased to show solidarity with the disabled community. Our foundation uses the power of sport to make a lasting and sustainable legacy across the communities we serve. Rugby brings communities together and all sports should be accessible to all. Purple Sock Day is an excellent way of showing support for disabled people.”

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