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As National Inclusion Week gets underway (27 September to 3 October) one of Bromford’s newest employees talks about her ‘hidden condition’ and how it helps her build relationships with some of Bromford’s customers. 

According to Gov.uk, there are over 11 million people in the UK who have a disability or long-term condition. That means it's likely that people will know someone with a disability and may not even realise it.  

In fact, up to 70% of people with a registered disability have what's classed as a 'hidden' disability which means, it may go undetected by the average person.  

Ciara Wakefield has recently joined Bromford and her apprehensions upon joining ran a little deeper than the need for good coffee and friendly work colleagues. And that’s because she has a disability. 

I am one of those people with a hidden condition,” says Ciara. There are some days when I look like anyone else, whilst other days, I'm in excruciating pain and struggle to do the simplest of tasks. 

Cauda Equina Syndrome 

In 2014, Ciara woke up one morning to find that her back was in spasm and she was rushed into hospital with a condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome. One of her spinal discs had ruptured and cut off the vital nerves from the waist down. She required emergency surgery to remove the disc that night, which left her spine unstable.  

Four years later the condition returned. Whilst the surgeons operated as soon as they knew it was a problem, the damage was too severe to be reversed and Ciara was left with extensive nerve damage. 

Settling in 

Ciara has started as an income management advisor at Bromford and believes her experience as someone with a disability can help in her job. Part of her role involves building relationships with customers who are in rent arrears, to help them get back on track.   

In my experience, many people with long-term health conditions can experience feelings of loneliness, isolation and feeling like no one understands them. It's unsurprising that a proportion of our customers are classed as disabled or have long-term health conditions.  

I feel that being able to sympathise with some of their issues, but also having something major in common with them, means I can build meaningful, worthwhile and inclusive relationships. Even if it helps just one person, then that's a good start.