Introducing new member of the Branch Properties team, Jess!

Introducing new member of the Branch Properties team, Jess!

We are delighted to introduce Jess, our newest member of the team.  She will be blogging twice a month, discussing all the issues that she as a wheelchair user has to deal with on a daily basis and looking into how difficult that can be…

Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Jess, I live in Bedford in the South East of England. Currently I am hoping to move to pastures new (still in Bedford). I am 44 and have been using a wheelchair since falling ill while working and living in France aged 19 (25 years ago). I have had a personal interest in Branch Properties (which I found on Facebook) for several months. I am attempting to sell my house and am very much in need of direction and accessibility suggestion, I contacted Sallie Stone-Bearne of Branch Properties, and as they say, the rest was history! Since that day, although we’re not there yet, I have, however,found Sallie’s advice and support invaluable.

I am by no means a housing expert. However, I can see an obvious need for housing that accommodates all of us. Using a wheelchair brings it home, more obviously, that everyone needs to access properties.

Unfortunately, new developments are being built each day that do not allow equal access to a building. The flats in the new build, that I have been looking at, offer you a show flat on the first floor with no lift. Incredibly, also the very first flat I visited couldn’t even allow a wheelchair in (despite having phoned ahead and the agent assuring us it would be fine).

A bit more about me about me.

Back in 1993 I had plans to read French at Sussex University. Realising how much easier home study could be I began studying with the Open University in 1998. I completed my Language Studies degree in 2007.

I am still a bit Francophile, listening to French music, watching French films and reading French books. I also have a love of photography and, at the moment I swim twice a week.

Although my flat has been adapted for me, I try to get out at least once each day, which inevitably leads to confronting good, and not so good, examples of accessibility. My local pub for instance has a steep step which prevents me from accessing their garden but also the pub offers a great accessible toilet.

I always wonder whether the fact that I entered my chair at a young age, has helped to instil an exaggerated sense of injustice. Certainly early on I recall often comparing all that I had taken for granted with my new somewhat more limited options. This seems to have helped make me uniquely intolerant to poor access.

Access to property, as an issue is one I have felt passionately about for many years; my mum was also a wheelchair user.

For the last two years I have been part of Bedford and District Access Group.

So that’s me, really looking forward to this!


Please get in touch if you want to agree, disagree, chat or let us know what you want to discuss? Contact Jess on