* This post is written by one of our volunteer content creators - it is not sponsored. *
My Fix, From First Contact To The Final Solution.
In my previous post, I discussed the brilliant work Remap do to create bespoke solutions for disabled people’s everyday problems. My problem was that I frequently found myself in situations where I couldn’t fit my electric wheelchair underneath tables in cafes and restaurants. I also found myself in social situations having to decide between either tea or cake, because accepting both meant having no hands left to drive my wheelchair! Therefore, I was looking for a small, lightweight table to fit across the front of my chair that I could use in cafes or restaurants if the tables were too low, during meetings, or on other occasions. I also needed to be able to always carry the table easily and unobtrusively on my chair.
After contacting Remap I had a phone call from Peter, a local volunteer. He then came to visit me, and we agreed that a small table that can easily slide onto the front of my armrests would be the most straightforward solution. He took some measurements from my chair and came back in a day or two to show me what he’d been working on. He’d temporarily put the pieces together with double-sided tape to check it worked, before going back to his workshop to permanently assemble everything and finish the build.
You can see in the photographs below Peter working on my fix in his workshop, including the cup holder he had suggested so that I could keep the main surface clear and my drink secure if, for example, I was eating a meal on the table, or using it as an impromptu desk at a meeting.
Once we had decided on the design, Peter then went ahead and covered the surface with a non-slip material, to ensure things could not easily be displaced from the table, even if I’m moving around in my chair. Then we turned our thoughts to how to attach the table to my chair so that I had it with me as and when it was required.
We spent a lot of time working on a solution based around attaching some hangars to the side of my wheelchair, so the table could be stored vertically alongside my chair. However, the space was tight between the shroud of my drive wheel and the swing-away mechanism of my controller. After an extended period of trying to make the hangar system work, I suggested to Peter we stop and look at the chair again to see if there were any alternatives as I felt we’d reached an impasse with the current plan. As we looked at things again, we agreed a fabric bag that hung from the bar at the back of my chair would be almost as accessible as having the table beside me. Plus, I could always ask someone to pass it to me if needed. So, I gave him some fabric I had in my sewing room and Peter’s wife very kindly made a strong bag with a long velcro fastening to hold my table securely behind my chair.
Once my fix was complete Peter double-checked I was happy with everything and let me know that I could always go back to him if I needed anything tweaking or changing in the future. So far, my new table has been in near constant use at home as well as out and about, as it’s much less cumbersome than the large swing away table I used to use at home. The photos above show me using it as a desk in my role as Trustee of a local Counselling & Training charity - it was invaluable in allowing me to write notes on paper, which is not something I’m usually able to do as I cannot get my knees under the tables in our meeting rooms.
If you have a problem or difficulty of any size or complexity that’s affecting your quality of life, then I’d highly recommend contacting Remap and asking for their help in finding a practical solution. If you have a challenge or something you’re finding difficult, even if you don’t have any ideas about how to fix it, speak to Remap and they’ll do their best to find a solution. For an idea of just how extensive their range of skills is, visit their website and click on their stories section to see some of their previous fixes for children and adults across England and Wales *.
For more information on accessing their services, donating, and becoming a volunteer - simply check out the links below!
Thanks - Emma
* Remap UK covers England and Wales, and their sister organisation covers Scotland, but there are many similar charities running in other countries so it’s worth investigating if you’re reading this blog from elsewhere in the world.