It was this problem that Sarah Greenhalgh and Julie McGuigan from Anthony Collins Solicitors, together with other young professionals from Birmingham, decided to tackle and from this has arisen – a new initiative called Suited for Success.

They were inspired by the belief that first impressions count and that helping someone find a smart work outfit will give them the confidence they need to make a positive first impression at a job interview. Suited For Success is run in partnership with Birmingham Central Foodbank, located in Ladywood, an inner city area that has high unemployment.  It aims to help unemployed people back into work through the collection and distribution of good quality ‘gently worn’ office wear. The clothing is collected by individual companies and then distributed to unemployed people in need through the Suited For Success’s own Urban Boutique located in the Foodbank, via referrals from other Job Clubs and charities working with unemployed people in the city.

In Patricia White, project manager at Birmingham Central Foodbank, the Suited for Success team found a kindred spirit.

“Patricia at the foodbank had been thinking about setting something like this up for some time as she had identified that affording suitable interview clothing was a barrier to getting into employment” explains Julie McGuigan “The foodbank has a job club, Re.Ignite - a ten-week programme which supports people getting back into work, and this was complimentary to what we wanted to do”

Having done some initial research the group decided to set-up a pilot project to see if it would work. The idea was to see if work colleagues would be supportive and to assess the logistics of the scheme. The wheels were set in motion in December last year to coincide with Giving Tuesday and from the overwhelmingly positive response, including from colleagues at Anthony Collins Solicitors, they were inspired to press ahead and launch the scheme across the Birmingham city centre.

For more information

Anyone interested in the project, donating  good quality ‘gently worn’ office wear (shoes are particularly needed) or starting the project in their area can contact the team or via twitter @SuitedforBham