Man With Cerebral Palsy Lands Job After 950 Rejections

Tom Stephens, 23, was ecstatic when he recently landed a full-time job at an Asda store in Altrincham, England. Asda is one of the largest grocery chains in the U.K., and after completing a training course, Stephens, who has cerebral palsy, is now making strides both personally and professionally.

Over the last five years, Stephens has been rejected 950 times in his quest to find a permanent position. The Asda traineeship program, put on in conjunction with the U.K. Movement to Work initiative, is designed to help individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 who are struggling to find work. The eight-week course gives participants classroom lectures and work experience, and the company hopes to recruit 1,000 young people through the program by the end of next year.

“I never gave up, but all those rejections really knocked my confidence,” Stephens said in a statement released through Asda. “I loved [the program] and was over the moon to get a permanent job. I have belief in myself again and have made so many new friends.”

Stephens told The Mirror that of the 950 jobs he applied to, he only received 50 callbacks, and most of the companies told him they weren’t interested in hiring him because he “didn’t have enough experience.”

Asda Altrincham Asda Service Section Leader Sophie Rutherford and Ingeus Regional Account Co-ordinator Natalie Burney with new recruit Tom Stephens. credit:
Image courtesy of Asda

I think it was an excuse,” Stephens told The Mirror. “All of the knock backs made me want it even more. I never thought of giving up. I’ve got no interest in just claiming benefits and sitting around. I want to be a productive member of society.”

“It is not right and not fair that people with disabilities are, in my experience, not given enough opportunities,” he continued. “I want companies to just see what someone like me can do because I can do a fantastic job.”

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Cerebral Palsy

Mom Furious After School Separates Disabled Son During Chorus Performance

Cidalia Vitorino was thrilled to watch her son Camron Silva perform at his school’s recital, but when she sat down to watch the performance, her excitement turned to anger. While the rest of his class was lined up on stage, Camron, 10, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was sitting on the floor [...]

How My Walker Taught Me to Accept My Body and Myself

I’ve had mild cerebral palsy my entire life. The one thing no one tells you about cerebral palsy, however, is that getting older is hard. While cerebral palsy in and of itself doesn’t get worse, the things it does to my body — osteoarthritis, uneven hips and mild scoliosis to name a few — do. As an adult, [...]

You'll Love Who Sports Illustrated Named High School Athlete of the Year

On Monday Sports Illustrated named Hunter Gandee its High School Athlete of the Year for all of the work he’s done raising awareness for cerebral palsy. Hunter is a sophomore at Bedford High in Temperance, Michigan, and he’s a standout member of his school’s varsity wrestling team. Earlier this year he carried his 9-year-old brother Braden on [...]

5 Things You Need to Know About Cerebral Palsy and Me

Walking through a crowded square on crutches, I recognize nobody in the sea of faces. I don’t know them, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority are relatively clueless about the finer points of cerebral palsy. But I’m not really a gambling girl. I deal in reality, not misconceptions. There are a few [...]