'I've had 150 job interviews and not been offered anything - I think it is because I'm disabled'
PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 June 2016
Zoe Hilton-Webb is like any other 23 year old.
She lives at home, likes hanging out with friends, travelling, swimming, cycling and climbing – but the one thing she can’t find is a job.
Zoe was born with Aperts syndrome, which is a genetic disorder characterised by the premature fusion of skull bones which affect the shape of the head and face.
She has been to more than 150 interviews, yet still hasn’t been offered a job.
Zoe, who lives in Hornsey and went to Northumberland School in Alexandra Park, is now campaigning for better employment rights for disabled people.
She said: “I have been interviewed in corridors, store cupboards and waiting rooms.
“Each time I’ve received different excuses saying I am over qualified or under qualified, or haven’t got the right level of qualification, even though I have the certificates and experience to prove it.”
While most people would give up hope, Zoe – who has completed a two-year BTec in health and social care – decided to take action.
She decided to set up her own Facebook page called “Getting young disabled people into employment”, and has approached MP Catherine West.
Zoe has also appeared on Channel 4 News, in a piece about the challenges disabled people face in the workplace.
She told a Channel 4 interviewer: “I’m really fed up. I’m feeling really depressed at the moment, I’m attending all these interviews and not getting anywhere.
“I think it’s due to my disability.”
She wants to be a nursery of SEN assistant, but despite working as a volunteer in a nursery, she doesn’t feel she has had a chance to prove herself.
Now Zoe is calling on the Greater London Assembly (GLA) to implement a policy to ensure young people with disabilities are protected from discrimination in the job market.
Ms West told the Ham&High: “I had the pleasure of meeting Zoe recently to discuss her concerns, although the issues we discussed were deeply concerning it was fantastic to see Zoe leading on this important issue.
“Indeed I fully support the aims of her campaign to ensure that people with disabilities are able to get jobs.
“Zoe and I are keen to work with the key stakeholders, including the Job Centre, to ensure there are systems of support in place to allow disabled people to not only secure a job but reach their full potential.”