Nom loves to eat, cook and shop and enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She is looking forward to her 30th birthday and is planning a big party to celebrate. She would also love to go to Paris to mark the milestone year.
Nom lives in Essex and works in a high street bank, but has been off work for a while following an operation to replace her hip. Nom is recovering from the surgery and hopes to return to work in April (2022). She has Osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes soft bones that break or fracture easily. It affects the right side of her body including her leg and she is a full time wheelchair user. The condition is painful but well managed and Nom hopes to have a good quality of life following her operation.
Nom found out about the RiDC consumer panel in February 2021 when she got a new car through the Motability Scheme and followed a link to some upcoming research on the website. She was pleasantly surprised to find an organisation fighting for the rights of the disabled community.
“As a disabled person you can feel cast aside by society, so it’s good to realise that there are organisations like RiDC working on our behalf. I was touched and remember thinking to myself that I wanted to get involved. I’ve taken part in just about every piece of research since!” says Nom.
This has included research looking at product packaging and the accessibility of charging points for electric cars, which is currently very poor.
“I’m in a lucky position. I’ve been able to find my voice and speak out for myself. Taking part in the RiDC research panel is part of that for me. You get the chance to have your say and to speak up for yourself and for others. It feels great to contribute to the decision making process and to be an active part of the community.
“I feel great knowing I’ve played a part in something that might help me and the disabled community. We have to be on the front line because sometimes people don’t know we have a need until we tell them and that in itself is us doing something great!
“Two people might have the same disability but a very different experience. People don’t think about disabled people or they put us all in the same box. I want to change perceptions of disabled people, which is why I share my life as a disabled woman on YouTube and Instagram. It’s my way of saying here I am, I’m disabled, and I’m living life the best that I can. People are shocked when they see it.”
Nom says there is still a long way to go in terms of making services and products accessible to everyone. She finds restaurants, supermarkets and pavement layouts most frustrating day to day.
“Restaurants are tough in London. You might be able to get in the door but that doesn’t mean the table is the right height for your wheelchair or it even fits underneath, or there is sufficient space in the accessible toilet to move your wheelchair. Supermarkets might have a lower till, which is great, but thoughtless product placement makes it difficult for me to reach what I want off the shelves. Also, there’s no easy way to get help from staff without spending a lot of time tracking them down each time you need them.”
Nom was born in Zimbabwe and suffered with pain in her right leg since she was about two years-old. She struggled to walk and crawl and do the things a toddler would normally do. She came to the UK when she was eight years-old and had surgery on a broken leg she had been walking on for over five years. She broke her leg again on a school trip when she was aged 12, which is when the condition was diagnosed.
“I was a broken and sad person and had been through a lot. But I am a person of faith and my confidence comes from God. Therapy has also helped me to understand myself. I know where I have come from and I know where I am going.”