What is Naidex?
Naidex is a trade, professional and public event which is dedicated to the care, rehabilitation and lifestyle of people with a disability or impairment. Which has now been running for 45 years and is Europe’s most established trade, professional and public event for care and rehabilitation for disability and impairment.
Naidex is held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham (NEC) for two days 10.00-17.00. Naidex showcases hundreds of exhibitors with information about their company and product(s), seminars in multiple areas from: traveling with a disability, to new ground breaking technology to improve the life of disabled people and disability tips and tricks.
Live demos in all sorts of equipment and technology are available, discussions with multiple disability charities. Naidex is an incredible networking opportunity too, not just for professionals but for the public.
It is a great way to meet new people, others with the same disability or impairment that you may have, someone you love may have or someone you may care for.
Naidex is also a completely free event to attend.
Naidex45 is the second time I have visited Naidex. Last year James and I went together on the first day. However, this year both James and I attended on the first day and I attended alone on the second day as James had to go back to work.
Last year upon arriving I was extremely overwhelmed. Naidex is a very busy event and rather loud. Over time I settled into the hustle and bustle of it all and it was a little easier but there was a point where I was ready to leave.
This year I prepared myself for this however, when we arrived I was once again very overwhelmed! I did eventually settle and I found myself caught up in it all. I felt far more confident this year having been before. I asked questions (or I made James), we had a good look around at various stands, products and attended a talk.
Naidex may not be suitable for someone who cannot cope with too many people or noises etc and it can be very overwhelming however, you may find that you can cope in small doses.
There are plenty of places to grab a coffee within the space or within the main building and you can get a little fresh air outside if necessary.
Naidex runs across two days so perhaps a hour or few a day may be more suitable for you. There is a lot to see so I would highly advise splitting the trip over two days if you can.
I think Naidex is a fantastic event where you can browse new technology, equipment, you can meet many different charities that may represent your condition, there’s a lot to learn and you may find it very educational. It is also a great way to meet other disabled people, people with your condition or similar.
One thing I heard a lot of this year in particular and I completely agree with is that it is quite easy (the hustle and bustle put aside) to feel comfortable in yourself and your disability. There’s no reason to feel awkward or embarrassed for your mobility equipment, taking your meds, any monitoring or other medical equipment you may need.
Naidex is full of disabled people, family, friends, carers and industry professionals that are used to mobility aids and medical equipment. It is really easy to just be your disabled self when at Naidex. If you catch someone staring it’s usually because they’re interested in the mobility equipment you have, the medical accessories you have as they may be looking for something similar or may not have seen it before and are interested in the idea themselves. Otherwise staring is usually down to someone appreciating your outfit or your hair and you can feel confident in that idea because most people are in a similar position to you.
Naidex Day One
The first day of Naidex I attended with James. We hadn’t planned to arrive when doors opened at 10.00 so we could miss some of the chaos but there is a relatively good flow of people in and out throughout the day. We had planned to arrive at 11.00 however, we didn’t arrive until 12.00 as I was having a difficult morning.
This didn’t panic us too much as everyone would still be there when we arrived and I would be there the next day if I didn’t manage the rounds in one day.
As I do find Naidex quite overwhelming on arrival James and I did a lap of the room(s) first, this helped us to settle in and plan which stands we 100% wanted to visit and so on.
On our second lap we stopped to look at several products including TriRide and Klaxon.
Whilst testing out the Klaxon James followed me around but in my wheelchair as I had transferred into one of the Klaxon demo’s. I had constantly been seeing one gentlemen in particular for a good 20 minutes or so and it wasn’t until this moment that he plucked up the courage and went to ask James about my E-Fix.
Although James knows a lot about the E-Fix and how I feel about it he pointed the gentlemen in my direction and we had a lovely chat about the E-Fix as he was considering the E-Fix or something similar. This is one of many things I love about Naidex, there is usually someone using a piece of equipment you would like to know about and getting a user/disabled persons view on it can be invaluable. It doesn’t matter how much information a product/company can give you there is no one better to ask about the product than a user of it. We had a great chat and pointed him in the direction of some companies that may have the E-Fix.
James and I also went to find the DM Orthotics stand. This is a company I discovered last year at Naidex. I think they are a brilliant company especially for people with a form of Hypermobility. They make ‘elastomeric fabric, dynamic movement orthoses’ these are mainly something like a top, shoulder support, shorts and more that go under clothing and are brilliant for hypermobile joints. Last year I tried a shoulder support and it was a very weird and amazing experience.
Due to my hypermobility my shoulders frequently subluxate and they don’t tend to be sitting in the right place. Something I have been describing for years as it feels as though I am missing my shoulder/arm. When I tried the shoulder support it was like everything just came into place. I was far more aware of my shoulder/arm and they felt far more comfortable and just ‘there’ because they have felt as though they were missing. Unfortunately, DM Orthotics are incredibly (but not impossible) difficult to get through the NHS and is a cost I have not yet been able to afford and am currently trying some other methods with my shoulder physio.
However, I would highly recommend looking into this if it’s something that you may benefit from and may be able to access. The team are great and we had a really good chat.
I was also determined to track down the AccessAble stand so I could meet some of the wonderful AccessAble team and champions. Some of whom I have spoken to multiple times online or via email but I’ve never had the chance to meet.
After several conversations I finally got to meet the wonderful Carrie-Ann Lightly from CarrieAnnLightly.com
Carrie-Ann was also giving a talk or disabled travel which James and I had already planned on seeing so we later headed over to see her talk. I haven’t travelled much especially not outside of the UK yet so I found Carrie-Ann’s tips and tricks really useful and there was a lot of tricks that I never would have considered! Hearing her experiences were really beneficial to us and they were all things I will use or bare in mind when I do travel. Well done Carrie-Ann on a brilliant talk!
Whilst wondering past Quantum Rehab UK we got to meet the lovely Shona from Shona Louise! Shona’s blog was one of the first that I followed a few years ago and we’ve talked several times online, she’s given me some brilliant advice before my filming with the BBC so it was amazing to finally meet her in person!
It was brief but I also had the chance to meet the lovely Tania and Elise from When Tania Talks. I just wished we’d bumped into each other earlier! Tania’s blog was also one of the first I followed and Tania is just as lovely as she comes across online, if not more so.
James and I left about 17.00 when the event ended and honestly there’s at least two hours of the day that I have no idea where they went!
We headed to my hotel so I could check-in and then we pretty much collapsed on the bed for an hour; we were both desperate to lie down! We kept ourselves chatting in fear we’d fall asleep and miss the chance for some dinner. After a little check on the AccessAble App we headed to Café Rouge in Solihull before I went back to the hotel and James headed home.
I was on the phone to James before I went to bed whilst I sorted out my things ready for day two and then I got into bed but I could barely keep my eyes open, I was exhausted! I don’t sleep well at all and I deal with a huge amount of fatigue but this was a different sort of exhausted and I went to sleep almost instantly!
Naidex Day Two
Surprise, surprise I didn’t make it on time again! In my defence I had planned to arrive at 11.00 and I did get up on time I just had to take it slow because I h u r t. I arrived around 12.00 I think…
As I had stayed over night and had no car I had planned to take an Uber, which I did. However, the tyres weren’t even out of the car park before my driver told me ‘how sad he was for me, being a pretty girl in a wheelchair’. Don’t worry! I was quite calm and quiet until we reached the NEC and I told him exactly what I thought of his views because the comments did not stop at the above! – I will write a little more on this soon.
Once I was inside I checked-in my suitcase because I was not dragging that around all day and I headed to Starbucks for my favourite Iced Mango Black Tea Lemonade… and a blueberry muffin – it was going to be a long day!
I headed to the AccessAble stand to say good morning/afternoon to everyone then I headed off for another look around. I’ll be honest my look around was mainly so I could locate the different areas in which I was hoping to see seminars/talks.
I missed one of my talks for the day but I did attend one seminar on something medical that I can’t currently recall… I’ll be honest I wasn’t massively impressed and it was quite clear it was supposed to me more of a professional sale pitch despite the fact that only members of the public showed up.
I also attended a talk on Air BnB Experiences and their opportunities. Again if I am being completely honest it sounds great but none of the pictures or videos they showed were actually aimed at disabled people. I don’t recall there being any disabled people in any of the videos either or at least not anyone ‘obviously’ disabled.
I had several lovely chats with a few different stands and two wonderful ladies from the company Cura who blocked off a little passing for me to get through as it becomes quite difficult when you put a lot of wheelchairs and mobility aids in one fairly small place!
Later on I headed back to the AccessAble stand where I got to meet the lovely Lucy from Four Wheeled Wonder Women. It was great to finally meet Lucy as she is a fellow Champion but now works for AccessAble.
I also bumped into the wonderful Emily Yates from Emily Rose Yates, Emily is another fellow Champion too. You may also know Emily from her work with Enhance the UK.
Then thanks to Lucy’s brilliant determination we had the chance to meet Warwick Davis too!
I also had the chance to meet Luce from Loaf and Luce on Instagram. Lucy shares the adventures of herself and her brother Jamie. I also got to meet their Mum and we all just had a really great chat. It’s so lovely when you get to meet people you’ve spoken to or regularly speak to via social media. It’s also a great way to share experiences too.
It was long after that the show was drawing to a close so I decided to head back to pick up my suitcase. On my way I passed the Burning Nights CRPS Charity who support those affect by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) a condition which I also have.
I had a great conversation with two wonderful people who in a matter of minutes really helped me in the way that I see my CRPS as it is not my primary issue it often goes a little neglected. I also tend to compare myself to others with CRPS which is a big no no.
I was really pleased I had spotted them on my way out as over the last 8-12 months my CRPS has become a little bit more noticeable and I am having more flares. I am really grateful for those few minutes they had to spend with me. If you or anyone you love or care for have CRPS I would highly recommend viewing the charity website. I would have loved to have gone to their convention later this year but it looks like I won’t be able to.
Once I finished chatting away, I picked up my suitcase and completely reorganised I decided to go find a Taxi. As I was very tired and I thought I may be able to find an accessible taxi so I didn’t have to lift my wheelchair but also because I didn’t feel I could risk being picked up by the same Uber driver I’d had that morning.
I headed to the Resorts World Birmingham shopping centre. Now this was my first ride in a car in my wheelchair and it was not the best. My wheelchair breaks were on but the only thing that was supposedly keeping me safe/still in the Taxi was a seat belt which was connect on the floor to the right of me but coming down from behind me and it went over me like a normal seat belt and then clipping into the left side of me towards the floor.
The drive was only five minutes but in that time my chair was throw about quite a bit and I was bumping around here, there and everywhere. I was taking a boomerang on Instagram when all of a sudden my chair moves forwards away from the back of the front seats and my wheelchair tips almost entirely to the floor! In panic I reached out and thankfully caught a grab handle and managed to pull myself up. It is safe to say that I gripped onto it like my life depended on it! However, it did happen again just be we reached our destination.
If I ever have to get a taxi whilst being in my chair again I will definitely be making sure my wheelchair cannot move in anyway!
I did a little shopping where I accidently ended up following Nina from Brain Kittens. We were in a shop with limited access so I literally followed Nina around the shop. We both later ended up in Starbucks and although sat almost at different ends of the of bench seat, the longer we talked for the closer we became in distance which I am sure other customers appreciated.
We also had a very interesting conversations regarding looking young when you have a form of hypermobility, something I am now keen to look into. I hadn’t spoken to Nina prior to our accidental meet but she is so kind and funny we had a great chit chat and I have now read several of her blog posts.
Nina also managed to distract me from the time so by the time she left I didn’t have much time to wait before James arrived!
James didn’t arrive until around 21.00 I think… we decided to have dinner in Zizzi’s before we headed home. Although the drive home went relatively smoothly I was e x h a u s t e d and in somuch pain. We arrived home about 1.00 and I slept so well that night!
I am still trying to recover from the chaos of last week today but it was definitely worth it!
I had such a great time and Naidex. I got to meet some incredible people and I had a lot of fun! Thank you to everyone that made Naidex so enjoyable, it was amazing to finally meet so many awesome people and hopefully I will see you all next year if not before!
If you are considering going to Naidex next year then I would highly recommend it!
If you want to know more about Naidex or would like to book your free tickets for 2020 you can do so here.