Hi - I had arthritis in childhood, which was pretty bad but is a lot better now, and having had my hips replaced now I can live independently, though my wrists are still fused and my fingers are quite bent now. I really want to a job - any job at all - so I can support myself through a degree with the Open University, but I can't even get an interview.

So far I've tried:

Applying via application forms.

Speculative applications / CV to local employers

Volunteering (4 times in 10 years - shortly to be 5)

Going to employers in person and making enquiries / leaving CV.

Offering to do work trials for a short period of time to show I am capable of doing the job.

Applying for anything I am able to do in my area, plus around 17 other towns and cities that I can commute to by train or that I would be comfortable living in alone (I'm a single woman, and there are places that I just won't consider because I refuse to live somewhere I am not happy going out alone in)

I am seriously reaching the end of what I can take with this. It is taking all of my time and all of my energy, and I've only had one interview in this last year, at the end of which I was told I was too bright for the job (admin assistant). Most employers tell me I don't have enough experience and that is why they won't give me an interview - but I was also told when I applied for a job with a local university as a disabled student services officer that I didn't have enough awareness of the issues surrounding disability in education, yet not only do I have my own experience I volunteered at an adult education centre providing support specifically for clients with disabilities. It just makes me so mad - all I want is a chance to build a life for myself now that I am finally physically in a position to do so.

There are jobs I can't do, but I can certainly do office, reception or computer-based work. My independence was hard won and I don't want to have to give it up - but I will have no choice if I can't find work soon as I don't qualify for any benefits except the lower rate of DLA. I have just been turned down for income support, and am doing too many hours of study to qualify for Jobseekers. If I do fewer courses with the Open University each year so I can qualify, I will not finish my degree, because the courses I want to take are almost all being discontinued over the next couple of years.

If anyone has any advice about how I might find a way out of this mess, I would really appreciate it.