Welcome to Naidex

Naidex

Naidex this year was held on March 20th and 21st, 2024. It was better this year because they listened to feedback and publicised the fact that they had an app to help attendees plan their visit and find their way around.

It is one of the biggest disability exhibitions in the UK. People travel long distances to attend, so I always feel fortunate that I live in Birmingham and don’t have far to travel. However, there are plenty of options if you need somewhere to stay. If you do need an accessible room, though, please book early. Naidex is one of a handful of events where the number of disabled people is greater than that of non-disabled individuals. Accessible rooms near the NEC, where the event is held, are in high demand, and, as anyone reading this who has a disability will know, there are never many accessible rooms in a hotel. Demand outweighs supply.

Registering for Naidex

As I’m writing this three weeks after the event (blame respite and broadband dramas), it’s too late for this year, but please always pre-register. Of course, you can just turn up on the day; judging from the queues, many did. If you register early enough, your tickets will be posted to you, and you won’t have to queue. Click here to register for next year.

Travelling to the NEC/Resorts World

The NEC keeps changing its name as it changes ownership. It is currently named Resorts World, but the signage has been kept as NEC, which stands for National Exhibition Centre. It’s not meant to be confusing, but it can be, especially if you’ve never visited before.

By Car

The NEC is eight miles from Birmingham City Centre. The postcode is B40 1NT. If you pre-book parking, it is free for Blue Badge holders and £12 for everyone else. It may be more on the day. Blue Badge holders do not need to pre-book.

By Train

Alighting at Birmingham International train station, There is a covered walk to the NEC. However, a shuttle bus runs from the station to Hall 20, where Naidex is held, if the 15-minute walk is too far. Many services are direct to this station because of the airport. Suppose you do not have a direct route. In that case, it is approximately a 15-minute train ride from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International. Birmingham International have a Changing Places toilet on site. There are also buses to the venue from Moor Street and Solihull stations.

By bus and Coach

The National Express and Megabus companies have many journeys to Birmingham Airport. From the airport, the free air-rail link takes 90 seconds to get to the NEC and runs every two minutes. From Birmingham City Centre there are two local bus routes, the X1 which runs every 15 minutes and the 97A which runs every half an hour.

Naidex also recommends TOA taxis as an option, but I personally find them unreliable, especially at an event where accessible taxis will be in higher demand. I use Uber Access if I need a Taxi, as they have WAVs, but they, too, can be unreliable. They are great if there is an accessible vehicle on shift, but it’s 50/50 whether any cars are available. I would be interested to hear if any readers used Taxis attending this year and your opinion on them.

What are the options for staying at or near Naidex?

Here are the closest hotels with accessible rooms near the NEC.

The Ibis Styles Birmingham NEC and Airport has accessible rooms and is a six-minute walk to the NEC.

The Hilton Birmingham Metropole is a seven-minute walk from the NEC. It is unclear how many accessible rooms they have or what facilities are provided. Contact them before booking to get details. Also, please check whether the walk to the NEC would be doable according to your access needs.

If I had to book a room to attend Naidex, I would choose the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport. This is because most Holiday Inns will give you a carer room free if you need one. Again, it is not clear how many accessible rooms they have, so book early to avoid disappointment. The hotel is a six-minute drive from the NEC.

Best Western Plus Birmingham NEC Meriden Manor Hotel is a seven-minute drive to the NEC and advertises wheelchair access. However, for some reason, accessible rooms don’t show up in search results. You’d have to contact them to get details.

Voco: St. John’s Solihull is a ten-minute drive from the NEC. This hotel appears to have two accessible rooms, but they are twin beds. It is part of IHG, so it may also offer a free carer room, but you would have to contact them to ask.

The Windmill Village Hotel, Golf Club & Spa, BW Signature Collection is a ten-minute drive to the NEC. The website states, ‘accessible rooms are available on request,’ but it does not provide any other information.

Other Naidex facilities

Quiet Space

If you need a break from the crowds, the space outside the hall is huge, and there is some seating. There is also a designated quiet space located in Concourse 34. It has tables, sofas and chairs for anyone who wants some quiet time. Ask any member of staff who will be happy to direct you. At a significant event, crowds are inevitable, but it’s great that the organisers try to cater to everyone. Inclusivity is the point of the event, so there would be something wrong if they didn’t.

Assistance Dogs at Naidex

Assistance dogs are welcome at the show and have their own dedicated room to relax if things get too much. The organisers ask that the dogs wear their working jackets and be on a lead while at the event.

Hearing and visual adaptations

Naidex has hearing loops throughout the event and captioning available at seminars. BSL interpreters are also booked for many seminars but can also be requested in advance if you are interested in something and an interpreter hasn’t been booked already. Visit the website closer to the event time to see who is speaking, and email the organisers ahead of time to make sure that what you need is in place.

Depending on your sensitivity to light, you may want to bring dark glasses with you. I’ve never really noticed the light, but I’ve spoken to people who prefer to wear glasses at the event. If lighting affects you, please speak to the organisers, as I’m sure they’d be able to give you more information about how the venue and hall are lit.

Equipment hire

Wheelchairs are free to hire during the event if you are a blue badge holder and £5 for everyone else. Scooters are available to hire for the day for a charge of £15. If you need this, please pre-book. You can do this by emailing the organisers at Info@necgroup.co.uk. Turning up on the day and hiring equipment is possible, but it is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so the item you need isn’t guaranteed to be available.

Naidex 2024

Now that I’ve covered the essentials to make it easier for you to attend in 2025 let me tell you about this year. Hall 20, where it has been held for the last few years, is one great big hall. Naidex can be very noisy, so it’s understandable if you get overwhelmed or lose your sense of direction. I always get turned around, but people are friendly, and this year, the app made navigating the event easier.

Food and Drink

There is a cafe inside Naidex that sells sandwiches and cakes. There is also a coffee stand. These are pretty expensive, and I always bring my own food. There is another sandwich kiosk and a Cornish pasty place near hall 20. Further away but still within the NEC complex is a Subway. There is also a pub, but for some reason, most of the eating places listed on the NEC website are shut during Naidex. My top tip is to invest in a food flask and a thermos flask.

Seminars

I was always interested in the seminars but had never really managed to get to more than one or two because I was so busy and had lots of things to look at. This year, with the app, I could plan which seminars I wanted to attend and set reminders on my phone, making things easier. These are the seminars I attended.

Building Inclusive, Empowering Communities Online’ with Amy Pohl

I wanted to attend this seminar because I’d followed Amy on Instagram. I was interested to hear what she had to say. Her advice was to document everything. It was one of the most popular talks this year.

Amy Pohl at Naidex

In Conversation with Roman Kemp’ was a discussion between Roman Kemp and the editor of Able Magazine, Tom Jamison.

This panel between Roman Kemp and Tom Jamison interested me because I had seen Roman’s work with mental health and had also seen Tom at various journalism workshops. The discussion centred around mental health, the importance of looking after yourself, and being there for others.

Roman-Kemp-and-Tom-Jamison at Naidex

Disabled And Freelance: Tips & Tricks To Hack Self Employment’ with Lydia Wilkins.

I was really looking forward to this seminar, as being self-employed may be a good option for me, and I wanted to know more about it. I went to Naidex so that I could research different options for earning money. Being self-employed would mean I could work around my energy levels and be in my home, where everything is adapted. There is still a lot to think about, but I gained ideas from Lydia’s talk.

An Insider’s Perspective on Disability Representation in Sports Media’ with Jordan Jarrett-Bryan.

As a student at the Academy for Disabled Journalists, I’ve attended a few classes with Jordan, so I was very interested to hear what he had to say. To summarise his advice, tell stories, have a voice and let the industry know you’re there. I even managed to ask him a question which had a few people ask about my writing.

Jordan Jarrett-Bryan at Naidex

BBC Extend & Careers in the BBC’ with Robbie Crow and Rozana Green

The BBC seminar ended before I got to it, as I still got lost. I did manage to talk to Rosana Green afterwards, though. She is the BBC’s OutReach lead who emails all BBC Extend roles specifically open to those with a Disability. I was assured that I would have all the information needed as long as I was signed up for their scheme. I also had an encouraging talk with Robbie Crow, the BBC’s Strategic Disability Lead, the day before, so it was a successful two days of networking.

Other seminars I wanted to attend included “I swapped my broomstick for a wheelchair and a panel discussion on effective disability campaigns, but I didn’t have enough time. Due to parking taking forever, I missed Gem Turner’s seminar. Still, I managed to chat and take a photo with her afterwards. She was lovely and very encouraging. I don’t know what was happening with my hair. I blame the car park!

Meeting-Gemma-Turner-at-Naidex

Did you attend Naidex? What products or seminars did you enjoy? Let me know here.

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