Accessibility at IMBC 2023

IMBC is for everyone, and we’ve always been clear about that. We want everyone who wishes to attend can do so comfortably, safely and fully. Our venue, Victoria Baths, is a Grade II* listed building, and it presents various barriers to creating an accessible event for all. Its not easy to make a swimming pool into a venue, especially one with winding corridors, nooks and crannies and, you know, a swimming pool. Over the years, we’ve looked at how we can make sure the festival is accessible for anyone who may not be able to experience it in the same way as others, and we know that so far, we haven’t got it right yet. In 2022, we brought Inclusion into a core team to make sure we continuously take into account the needs and requirements of our guests, brewers, traders, staff and volunteers. We’ve always worked to do our best, but we realised it needed a more focused approach. As well as a member of the team taking responsibility for access, we’ve always been incredibly lucky to have an external Access Advisor to help us make the right changes. 

Both Room 1 and Room 2 have lift access into the pools. It means anyone who may not be able to manage the steps can get to the bar easily. We’ll have staff and security on hand to help manage this, so please do ask if you need help with these. 

We’ve listened to feedback regarding the number of toilets on site. So we’re adding more outside by the marquees. This includes another Accessible toilet. We ask that Accessible toilets are kept available for those that need them. We won’t be asking for proof of this, so please make sure you don’t use them if you don’t need to. 

As always, we’ll be offering queue jump at the entrance for anyone who needs it, including all members of their party. We always ask that people email us in advance so we can let security and our Front of House Team know in advance, but we know not everyone has the time to do this, or maybe forgets. Our Front of House Team and security will be out in the queue, so if you need to jump the queue, then let one of them know and they’ll be more than happy to get you in. 

Ear plugs will be available at the Main Entrances and at the Merch stand for anyone who may find things a little noisy or distracting. They’re free, so just pop over and ask for some.

This year, we’re introducing a Quiet Room for anyone that needs to take a break. We know how overwhelming the festival can be for some people, whether it’s the crowds, the noise, or you’ve just got a bit tired and your mental health is taking a hit. This space, located by the Main Entrance, will be music and beer free, comfy and a spot to just decompress and recharge. We ask that the space is only to be used for this, and we’ll have staff on hand to make sure its used properly. 

We’ll have simple, easy to read maps in basic text. So if you need clear information, they’ll be available at the Main Entrances, Merch stand and Token desks. 

Members of our security team are trained in Mental Health First Aid, so if you or anyone in your group is experiencing that means your mental health is struggling, they’ll be able to help you. Additionally, one of our team is trained councellor, so if things are getting rough for you, they can help you through it and make sure you’re supported.

We hope these measures move us in the right direct, and over the next three years, we’ll be building on them. We always welcome feedback on access, especially as one measure may work for one person, but not everyone else. We also know that we can only work from our own personal experience, so if we get it wrong, we’re always happy to be told that. With that, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, then email our Festival Coordinator and Inclusion Lead, Becca, at [email protected]