Dressing the unemployed ready for success

When going for a job interview everyone wants to make a good first impression.  But what if you’ve been unemployed for a long time or you’re struggling to get by on benefits; the expense of buying a smart interview outfit can be beyond many people’s reach leaving them feeling defeated before they’ve even filled in a job application form.

Niall Johnstone 25 from Aston has been in and out of prison for over 10 years and is ready to turn his life around and get a job. He couldn’t afford an interview outfit and turned up to a his first ever job interview wearing his tracksuit and trainers thinking he could explain, however he was turned away at the front door for not wearing the right clothes.

DSC_0301This is where Suited for Success steps in; an exciting new charity in the heart of the city that provides FREE job interview clothes for struggling unemployed men and women.
Niall was referred through a Birmingham job centre. Feeling angry and disheartened he said: “Over the years I’ve been done for burglary, shoplifting, car theft all petty non-violent crime; I just got sick of wasting my life away in a prison cell. I just want to turn my life around and get a job. After I got turned away at the interview I was frustrated and I just I kicked off at the job centre, I was angry because I needed interview clothes and nobody was helping me.”

Suited for Success collects gently worn donated suits and smart clothes from professional men and women working in offices and businesses across the city and redistributes them FREE OF CHARGE to unemployed men and women in Birmingham who have a guaranteed job interview. Working on an appointment basis unemployed men and women are referred to a department store like premises based in Ladywood through a variety of support agencies across the city including: job centres, job clubs, homeless hostels, debt advice agencies, foodbanks, addiction recovery charities, youth unemployed projects and many more front line support services.

A suit and a chance

Niall had never worn a suit or had even had a job interview before. After being dressed by one of the volunteers at Suited for Success in a complete interview suit including shoes and accessories Niall was unrecognisable. Looking in the mirror he said: “It’s like looking at a different person. I don’t look like my past anymore, my past is my past and my future is now in front of me.”

DSC_0285The charity officially opened its doors of their new referral centre in Ladywood after starting out as a pilot project in May 2015 working within a Birmingham foodbank. The centre has all the hallmarks of a smart department store with rails packed with smart suits, dresses, shirts, skirts, trousers, shoes and accessories collected from suit donation drives that take place in businesses, banks and solicitor firms across the city in support of the charity including: KMPG, PwC, Gowling WLG, The Weslyan, Lloyds TSB, Shakespeare Martineau, Anthony Collins and many others…

Managing Director Patricia White says: “First impressions are vital when it comes to a job interview, research shows that it takes a potential employer just nine seconds to make up their mind about a job applicant. Not being able to afford an interview suit can be a huge barrier into employment for many unemployed men and women in Birmingham. We love the fact that we’re able to help someone like Niall to turn his life around and get a job. Not only were we able to help him with a suit, we also signposted him to a Ready for Work programme run by Business in the Community.

“Both men and women can be referred to us; our only criteria are that they are currently unemployed and have confirmation of a guaranteed job interview. All our clients are given a one-to-one appointment and are dressed ready to give a great first impression in their interview.”

FREE haircuts

Going the extra mile Suited for Success has teamed up with Midlands based personal brand and image impact consultancy First impressions to support and help clients with their personal appearance, behaviour and communication skills which are core to succeeding in an interview and making the right impression in a new job.  First Impressions Managing Director Lyn Bromley says clothing can have a big impact on how people perform in an interview: “It’s key for the interviewees to feel great in what they are wearing as it will have a positive effect on their interview performance. When dress code expectations are met, this is a clear sign to the interviewer that they are taking the process seriously and they have done their research on what is appropriate for the organisation.” Says Lyn.

The charity has also just started a brand-new partnership with award winning UK hairdressers Francesco Group. Working with their Birmingham Academy some clients are also offered FREE haircuts and styling. “We’re so excited to be working with Francesco Group Birmingham Academy” says Suited for Success manager Patricia White. “Not being properly groomed can make or break someone’s chances at getting that crucial job offer.  A haircut is not only about confidence or a feel-good factor, if someone is looking their best and feeling their best they are more likely to give their best. We’re more than just about providing a suit.”

Volunteers needed

VolunteersSuited for Success relies on passionate committed volunteers. We’re looking to recruit a great team of male and female volunteers to help clients referred to Suited for Success look great and feel confident ready to succeed in a job interview. Meeting and greeting, dressing clients, sorting and organising donations there are many ways you can get involved…

No experience is necessary as full training will be given. If you can spare just a few hours a month and you’re a person with lots of energy, great communication skills, you’re passionate about helping people and are able to offer support and encouragement to our clients, get in touch with Suited for Success email:

Visit the Suited for Success website: http://www.suitedforsuccess.co.uk

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