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Dress for Success

01 June 2013

The grant will enable the group to continue to deliver a suiting service for local unemployed women from their base in Bellshill. They currently offer a service 2 days a week and due to increasing demand (50% of the 96 women supported in the last year has been in the last quarter), would like to expand this to 4 days per week. They are staffed entirely by volunteers and encourage expenses incurred to be claimed back.

Dress for Success Strathclyde is part of a worldwide network of branches which aim to get disadvantaged and unemployed women back into work (Strathclyde branch is only one of only two in the UK). Dress for Success provides free interview and work clothing to unemployed women in Bellshill, Motherwell and Hamilton who are from disadvantaged backgrounds and are looking to return to employment. Suitable clothing for interviews and a work environment is seen as one of the barriers to returning to work for the women.

Providing women with the appropriate clothing to wear, making them look and feel good about themselves can improve their chances of a successful interview as it increases their confidence to attend in the first place. Dress for Success believes that if a woman can take control of her own economic independence, she will invest in her own future and that of her family, building a more sustainable future for all. This helps to improve the life chances of this generation, but can also have lasting impacts on future generations.

Whilst Dress for Success is only one of a range of support agencies, it has demonstrated that it has a significant effect on women’s confidence in obtaining and retaining work. Women are referred to the service by employment agencies, jobcentres or other organisations such as colleges, disability forums or Women’s Aid centres if they have been unemployed for more than 6 months.

The clothing is all donated, principally through corporate sponsorship and also from private individuals. All clothes are quality checked and any small faults repaired by two volunteers. All clothes are then professionally cleaned prior to offering to clients. A significant outcome of the service is the increased confidence that women have following the one-to-one support in selecting clothes for interviews and work. Women report feeling more able to compete on an even playing field at interviews and their increased confidence results in better performances once in work, helping them to retain employment.

Dress for Success Strathclyde receives no government funding and depends entirely on corporate giving, the generosity of individuals and grants. We are volunteer driven, keep overheads to a minimum and depend on donations of high quality used clothing. We recycle all donations given to us, making us a ‘lean green machine’. The grant from Comic Relief contributed towards our telephone and utilities costs, enabling us to maintain a warm, welcoming and comfortable boutique space for our clients. We depend on a dedicated and talented team of volunteers who get enjoyment and a huge personal reward out of making women look and feel good, and helping them on the road back to self respect. This grant enabled us to pay volunteers’ expenses, ensuring that they were not out of pocket, helping us to treat them with the respect and dignity that their unstinting dedication and expertise deserve.”
Jane Lee, Director of Dress for Success Strathclyde

“It is tragic that any woman should lose out on a job through lack of appropriate clothing, or because she has not received the right advice about how to make a good first impression – two advantages that many of us take for granted. That is why we should do everything we can to support organisations like Dress for Success Strathclyde. They have an excellent track record of providing clothing and careers advice to women from a range of different backgrounds.”
Elaine Smith MSP quoted at a recent Suit Drive she sponsored, hosted by the Scottish Parliament.

“Comic Relief is delighted to be working with the Foundation Scotland to provide and distribute grants to community organisations such as Dress for Success Strathclyde which helps unemployed women back into work. These grants will enable many local projects to provide much-needed support and advice to disadvantaged people within communities across Scotland.”
Sue Wicks, Comic Relief UK Grants Manager.


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