A disabled Sutton man who was made redundant in 2010 is celebrating finally getting a new job after completing hundreds of applications.
Following three years out of work, and 870 job applications later, Phil O’Neill is now back at work, after being taken on as part of a recruitment drive to employ more disabled staff by a major supermarket chain.
Phil, of Carsic Road, spent much of his working life in the knitting trade - but when the local industry collapsed he found himself out of work.
And despite filling out hundreds of application forms and taking courses to build his skills base, the 58-year-old was only called in for two interviews by potential employers.
He told the Chad: “There were times when I was totally despondent about my situation - I knew that it would be difficult to get another job at my age and with my disability, but I didn’t think it was going to be as difficult as it was.
“I went for one interview and they noticed my limp and actually asked me if it was going to get better - they treated me like I was an accident just waiting to happen.
“But for me the most distressing part of it all was that people just don’t reply to the applications - you feel completely on your own.”
With benefits run out, the family had to survive on the wage brought in by Phil’s wife, Susan.
A ray of light came for Phil, who suffers from acute rheumatoid arthritis, when he started looking after granddaughter Ava.
But his life finally turned around when disabled employment charity Remploy put him in touch with Marks and Spencer, which was actively recruiting disabled candidates as part of its Marks and Starts scheme.
Phil now works in quality control at the company’s warehousing facility in Castle Donington.
Phil added: “It’s been a real life-changer. I feel like I’m contributing to society again.”