A STROKE survivor has spoken out after new figures revealed nearly half of working-age victims face financial hardship after being hit by the medical condition.

The Stroke Association says more than 125,000 stroke survivors experience a loss of income or faced discrimination at work.

Vicki Hewlett, of Dunmow, suffered a stroke when she was just 20.

Vicki found she couldn’t raise her left arm one day after work.

She then discovered she was unable to stand, smile or even speak.

Scans later revealed she had suffered a stroke caused by a hole in her heart.

Vicki returned to her job as a horse riding instructor within a few months.

But she claims her employers showed little understanding about her condition.

Vicki, now 24, said: “After my stroke I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I have never felt so weak and delicate.

“When I came back to work, I never felt like they understood the severity of my situation.

“I couldn’t do certain physical tasks anymore, but they put it down to laziness that I couldn’t do certain things.

“One day I was told off for sitting down, which I had to do due to fatigue. I was told I didn’t look enthusiastic, I felt like a liability to them and I was in tears every night.”

Vicki claims her employers offered no support and she eventually lost her job. She said: “One day I was called into a room and told it wasn’t working anymore.

“I was so worried about myself and my partner financially. In the end we were lucky that our families helped us out with groceries and a bit of money but the whole thing was scary.

“I remember being so angry at how my employer had treated me.”

The business is now under new management.

The Stroke Association’s new Lived Experience report is the UK’s largest survey of people affected by strokes with over 11,000 responses.

The findings show just over half of stroke survivors aged under 65 gave up work or reduced their working hours following their stroke.

Fifteen per cent of stroke survivors aged under 65 said they experienced discrimination, missed out on a promotion, or said their employer wasn’t supportive.

Stroke Association chief executive Juliet Bouverie said: “Not enough people realise the wider impacts that stroke can bring.

“Overnight, a partner becomes a carer – a breadwinner becomes jobless.

“It’s extremely worrying that not enough stroke survivors are receiving the support they need to either remain in work or access vital benefits.”

Vicki now works for a shipping firm at Stansted.

She said: “Looking back now, it was a blessing in disguise.

“I’ve been in my new job for three years now, working in operations for a shipping company and I love it.

“I try to be a really positive person, so I do look back now and try to understand why I was let go, but it’s never easy.”