'My giant size 19 feet have kept me out of work for 9 years'

A Fife dad says he has been forced to live on benefits for nine years because he can't get smart shoes to fit his giant size 19 feet for job interviews.
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David Henderson has just one pair of trainers that fit, and it would cost £2000 to have a pair of smart shoes specially made.

Sadly, he's been forced to turn up to job interviews wearing his trainers, something he says presents a bad image for the interviewers.

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David, (39) from Methil, is keen to get back into retail, and wants to know if anyone can help him find affordable smart shoes that fit so he can get back to work.

David Henderson with his size 29 trainers.David Henderson with his size 29 trainers.
David Henderson with his size 29 trainers.

"Trainers, easy, I can get them no problem. Shoes, that's the problem.

"I just want to see if there's anyone can help with the shoes and, and I want to make people aware of the situation, that this can happen.

"It's a society where people are blaming you because of something physical, that there is a problem with feet and employers don't understand that."

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David has even made it through interviews successfully, only to be told that the shoes required for uniform or safety purposes don't come in his size.

David Henderson.David Henderson.
David Henderson.

"It usually goes quite straight forward, and then they come to the uniform, and they say 'you need a white shirt, black trousers, and smart shoes'. That's fair enough, but I don't have any.

"I've got to some stages where they could have offered me the job, but I didn't have black shoes and they couldn't see past that.

"Even once you get past that barrier, you've got to address the issue of uniform, and what they expect of you.

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"If you got for a security job they expect shoes. If you got for a binman's job, it's safety boots."

After a great deal of looking, David found a company based in London which would charge between £1500 and £2000 for simple smart shoes in a fitted size 19.

"It would cost about £2000 for a pair of shoes, plus that's not including the travel to get them - you have to travel three times to London.

"You've got one for fitting, one for setting, and the third for the final fitting, and that's just for a standard black shoe."

And the problems aren't limited to job interviews.

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His size 19s are to long for most stairs, so he has to turn sideways to get safely up and down.

And the reaction he often faces when out and about can also be difficult.

He said: "I get a lot of reaction from the public, with people shouting 'big feet' .

"You sit on a bus and people are staring down at your feet. It makes you feel uncomfortable and depressed.

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"If I never had the problem I wouldn't understand it myself.

"People say 'you should try and get help', but doors have been closed in my face as many times.

"I went from the Job Centre, the Princes Trust, and a number of places, but no one can help.

"I've searched online, I've got friends searching online, I've called companies, but it's just rotten luck. They say it's unheard of.

"What do I do now?

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"My partner went to an interview and got a clothing grant allowance for £45, That's ok for her, but what about me? I'm still a person.

"People need to be aware that people with big feet do have issues, and we should be treated the same as any other normal person."

"It started when I was about 16, and I started finding it hard to get shoes. I thought maybe it was a phase.

"I didn't think it was an issue until I went through the interview process. You go for an interview against 12 people with suits on, and here's a guy with a pair of trainers, so your odds are going to be really slim. Who would you choose?"

• Can you help David? Do you know where he can get size 19 shoes?