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Emily Bradfield: Advocating for people living with hidden disabilities

Emily Bradfield: Advocating for people living with hidden disabilities

Emily is 32 from Buckinghamshire. She lived in Peckham, London, for 10 years prior to 2018. She's a social media executive for a large dog food retailer and is studying for a degree in human nutrition to change careers and follow her dream. This was after acquiring her disability which changed her perspective on life. She wants to help people improve their health and well-being through dietary choices.



Emily is wearing the Little black V neck dress.

You are an advocate for people living with hidden disabilities, could you tell us a bit about your journey?

Yes I am a big advocate for people with hidden disabilities. Their unique experience of life holds such value and provides a different perspective.

This came into fruition when I was a pedestrian victim of a hit and run accident which left me with a traumatic brain injury back in 2018. They never caught the driver but I am fortunate to still be here and it has brought me a new appreciation for life. Instead of looking at what my body can’t do and what others are doing, I now appreciate all my body can do and feel grateful for the life I have. Especially after the gruelling rehabilitation which included learning to eat and walk again.

How has your self-expression changed after the accident? Has this impacted your relationship with fashion?

My self expression has changed as my body has changed a fair bit. From being very active (running daily and yoga twice a week) to a sedentary lifestyle I had to adapt accordingly and find a new comfortable. I now look at sustainability within brands and whether they are doing good, so accountability too. Gone are the days of fast fashion for me. If I have to save up for an item that is good quality, lasts longer and benefits the people who make it - that’s the clothing I want to wear!

What do you wish people knew about people living with hidden disabilities?

I wish people knew that they are no different to anyone else and wouldn’t be afraid to ask questions.

It would also be good for people not to distance themselves from those with disabilities as it doesn’t serve anyone. Just treat others with kindness and respect: showing interest is not rude, ignoring the disability is.
There are always positives to be found and if your friend/family member has a hidden disability, don’t pretend it isn’t there but also be sensitive, especially if the individual hasn’t come to terms with the disability. If that's the case it may be worth seeing a psychologist who specialises in that field to talk your concerns through and get practical tips.

Black V-neck dress

Emily is wearing the Little black V neck dress.

What do you hope your voice brings to others?

I hope that my voice can give hope to others and help answer any questions they may have. I know how there is lots of help out there for those with disabilities but knowing what to do (e.g. benefits and help with talking to employers) can be very daunting. So if I can help in any way I would love to do so!
I'd like to say to anyone who acquires a hidden disability to never give up hope and stay determined to live life to the fullest in whatever way you can :)

You regularly raise money for charities that help people who’ve been in accidents. Why is this important and how can we support you to raise more money?

I’ve raised over £3000 for the incredible London AirAmbulance charity as they came to the scene to stabilise me where the accident happened in South London and effectively saved my life. I want to be able to help them provide that service for others. When lockdown hit I knew they wouldn’t be able to fundraise as usual so I started making cards to order for family/friends as a form of art therapy to get my left arm working again (I was left handed but due to the accident I had hemi-paresis on my left side so had to use my right hand until I got my left arm functioning again).

I have also raised funds for the charity Mind through doing various sporting activities too as I know how important mental health is and how help is needed. It’s important as we can all do our bit to help charities.

How can people connect with you?

People can connect with me easiest via Instagram @emilyja_b or via email

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Emily is wearing the Little black V neck dress:

Black V neck dress

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