Great Expo-tations! | British Tinnitus Association

A sunny Saturday in south-east London saw a constant stream of people turning up at Goldsmiths for the second BTA Tinnitus Expo.

There was lots on offer – including talks, practical taster sessions, 1-2-1 sessions with an adviser, networking sessions, exhibitor stalls and a final panel discussion. Many people commented that they hadn’t been able to get to everything they wanted – myself included! This report can only give a flavour of the day.

We know that some of you came for the talks, some of you to speak to a BTA adviser, and some of you to get information – as one attendee said:

[I came] to find a reliable source of information on tinnitus which does not include either the horror filled presentations which plague the internet, or the hard sell from commercial companies making unsubstantiated claims to “cure” the condition. I feel the BTA provides this impartial information and support.

And there certainly was information in abundance! The BTA had their usual well stocked tables, with our Information Standard accredited information available to take away. This was complemented by a wide range of talks on a number of topics, from research and why we haven’t cured tinnitus yet; hyperacusis and sound sensitivity; counselling; hearing aids; and treatment choices. Two of the most popular talks were on iCBT for insomnia from Laurence McKenna, and Sue Falkingham’s talk on habituation.

The standout by far was Sue Falkingham on understanding habituation: informative, funny, fascinating … It made me feel educated and hopeful.

Sadly, due to the pressures of the timetable, there wasn’t a lot of time for questions after the sessions, but many people took the opportunity to mingle with the speakers in the exhibition hall and talk to them there.

For me, I was pleased that we were able to offer 1-2-1 support sessions with attendees. Talking to people and hearing their concerns, helping them, and then developing our support as an organisation around their needs is at the heart of what we do. It was a privilege to hear people’s stories, and hopefully help them on their tinnitus journeys. 

I sadly didn’t get chance to attend any of the tasters, but they seemed to go down well – I peeped into the Mindfulness Based CBT room before a session was about to begin, to be met by the sight of three giant beach balls … I wonder how they fitted into the session!

Walking round the exhibition hall, the stands always seemed to be busy, and people seemed to appreciate that we’d carefully selected the services on offer. The bone conduction headphones on offer at the BTA stand were incredibly popular, and they were also used in the tinnitus sounds experience, where carers or family members attempted to go round the Expo or order a coffee with the constant background whine of tinnitus playing on top of the other sounds of a busy exhibition. 

To close off the Expo, our celebrity panel of TV presenter Ricky Boleto, musician James Kennedy, DJ, producer and Plug’em Ambassador Anne Savage and actor, comedian and BTA Ambassador Samantha Baines talked about their experiences and how they manage to work in the entertainment field despite living with tinnitus. There was lots of laughter, but also many serious points made.

I felt this session was very informative. open and honest, interactive and thought-provoking in a positive way. Each of the panellists shared their personal experiences from the heart. The time went too quickly!

And I think that sums up the whole of the Expo – the time went too quickly! There was so much to see and do, and even though I was making an effort to see as much as I could because I knew I’d be reporting on it, there was so much I missed!

Never mind … there’s always 2020. I hope you’ll be joining us!

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