Last year was not only my first time attending the Curve Fashion Festival but also my first event as a wheelchair user.
As a result, lessons were learned not only about sussing out venues before I attend but also accommodation.
When the tickets and the venue were announced last year for 2019, the first message I sent was about accessibility of the venue. I also went online and looked at the access and internals of the hall.
All of the information on accessibility can be found here: ACC Liverpool
Next step after I had purchased my tickets was to book an accessible apartment, which thankfully I managed to book right opposite the venue.
If I have learned one thing since this event it’s that as a wheelchair user you have to prepare for every eventuality, because even when you are told places are accessible, too many times this year they haven’t been.
The post below was shared with the organisers of the Curve Fashion Festival, who to their credit responded instantly, apologised to me and promised accessibility would be a priority for 2019, as you will see above they were true to their word.
The Curve Fashion Festival 2018
On the morning of The Curve Fashion Festival, we were all up, dressed and ready with the wheelchair waiting for the taxi to arrive.
The taxi dropped us off at Lime Street train station and we decided to go for breakfast at the North Western, this would turn out to be the easiest part of the day for me particularly.
The North Western was accessed via a ramp from the train station entrance and we managed to get seated on the ground floor. The only downside was the disabled toilet was out of order, therefore I did have to go downstairs which wasn’t ideal.
Exiting the North Western was easy with level access throughout the station and a lift down to Lime Street which came out right opposite St George’s Hall where The Curve Fashion Festival 2018 was being held.
Looking about there didn’t appear to be any signage for The Curve Fashion Festival, so we ventured down a slope to what looked like an entrance only to be informed we needed to be all the way around the other side of the building.
To get to the other entrance of St Georges Hall we had to walk around the front of the building, which had a Christmas Market right across the front and the only access was across cobbles.
There was no way Jackie could push me over the cobbles, so this meant I had to walk with my walking stick, also not ideal on the cobbles.
St George Hall
Finally, we reached the entrance, which looked lovely, an arch of balloons and a red carpet, at last somewhere for the wheels.
On entering the building, I enquired where the lift was to be informed it was just inside the doorway, either up a slope or up a couple of steps.
Taking the lift to the 1st floor there were still no signposts and the corridor we exited out of the lift into, was rammed with people, not the best when you are level with people’s backsides.
Asking a couple of ladies who were walking towards us which way to go, one advised me to ‘give it a miss and that I would really struggle in a wheelchair to get through.’
Getting to the end of the corridor, we then turned left, eventually, we got to the entrance of the market hall.
Poor Mum was knackered from all the walking, and thankfully there were some chairs outside the market hall where she chose to sit and wait for us.
As Jackie pushed my wheelchair through the doorway there was just no space to move, and we were surrounded by people pushing to get down the aisles.
The decision was made to follow the crowd around and what followed was the scariest 3/4 hour of my life.
I was surrounded from every side with people behind me and also trying to get through walking towards me.
We decided the easiest way was to just follow the route round, but it was so difficult to get through and very scary sat at the level where people could hit you with bags and even the chance of an elbow in the face, I applaud Jackie for trying to get through as there was no chance of stopping to look at anything we just had to keep moving.
The whole experience left me feeling totally insignificant on every level.
Eventually, we managed to get out of the market hall and back to Mum who after resting managed to walk back to the lift with us.
Reaching the lift, there was a queue building for the second floor where the fashion shows were taking place.
A few people moved back to allow us to get into the lift, which was very helpful, however when we arrived into the hall where the fashion show was taking place, there was no room to get the wheelchair through, so this left Jackie moving chairs out of the way for a thoroughfare.
Mum decided to stay in the main hall as there was no way she could have walked back down to the first floor again and then around the market hall.
Meeting the bloggers
Arriving back at the market hall it did seem to be a little easier to move so we made our way to the Curvissa stand to meet Laura Ferry, who was the first plus-size blogger I had followed on Instagram.
It was so lovely to spend some time with her and she was everything I knew she would be, just a lovely Geordie lass.
As we moved back into the aisle it seems we had been lulled into a false sense of security as we turned the next corner straight into an area that had been blocked off for a meet and greet with Gemma Collins, therefore we were stuck again.
This time though, no one wanted to move, I was getting elbowed and people were hitting me with bags, no concern whatsoever all they were interested in was their place in the queue to see Gemma Collins.
Jackie had a bra fit with Katie and I got to spend some time with the ladies while we waited.
The final aisle I met up with Jess and we had a lovely cuddle, she was knackered bless her as it was getting to the end of the day.
Leaving the market hall for the final time I met Emma and we had a chat and a selfie.
As the event came to an end we went in search of the disabled toilets, and as we were approaching them Em was walking towards us.
Having always felt a bit of allegiance towards Em as she is from my local area it was lovely to see her and even though she had had a full day of modelling the first question she asked me was how accessible the event had been for me?
Equally, I knew I liked this lady but now I liked her even more as after the day she had had she was only concerned about me. I have since found out this just Em.
After gathering up Mum from the hall we finally left St Georges Hall, not before Jackie tipped me out of my wheelchair onto the red carpet which had to be the funniest part of the day.As this was my first experience as a wheelchair user attending an event I initially wasn't sure what the expect. Click To Tweet
- There was no signposting outside St Georges Hall for The Curve Fashion Festival.
- The Christmas Market covering the only paved area outside the building, resulting in the only access being over cobbles.
- From the entrance, there was a lift available, however, on exiting the lift the Sign-In area was down three steps.
- The distance from the lift to the market hall was too far and ambulant disabled would not have handled the walk to the market hall.
- The main hall for the fashion shows and the speakers was not set out for wheelchair access.
Overall, what should have been an amazing day was tarnished because of the lack of accessibility, mainly Mum who had to stay in the main hall all day as she couldn’t walk far.In spite of all that I was with friends and family and got to meet some amazing ladies some of which have now become friends, so all was not lost. Click To Tweet