A SCHEME to help people dress to impress at interviews as they try to find employment has been launched by Bolton at Home.

The housing association is setting up a 'Working Wardrobe' in the town centre to ensure men and women in Bolton are interview-ready.

It was launched after Dawn Juson, employment and enterprise officer at Bolton at Home heard one of their customers saying 'I'll wear my best tracksuit to the interview'.

She said: "We come across this a lot at Bolton at Home. It’s not that our customers aren’t job-ready, it’s just that they’re not interview-ready.

"For this customer getting some decent clothes for his interview and creating that vital first impression was a real barrier to him getting off benefits and back into employment."

Under the Working Wardrobe, which will be set up in a shop unit in town centre, interviewees can get kitted out for free.

The Working Wardrobe will stock 'gently worns' suits, appropriate interview attire, shoes and accessories all donated by local businesses.

After being referred, clients will make a one-to-one appointment at the shop where they will be given a full interview outfit plus shoes and accessories they need and receive advice and support on what to expect at the interview.

Ms Juson said: "Once they’re successful they’ll come back to me for any additional clothing they need plus they’ll get access to our in work support officer. That way we can make the often difficult transition from benefits into employment as smooth as possible.

"This is all part of Bolton at Homes’ commitment to supporting local people into work. As a social landlord with 18,000 properties, we see our job as much more than putting a roof over people’s heads.

"Through our network of UCAN centres — neighbourhood advice centres — we are already supporting hundreds of local people with job searching, confidence-boosting and CV writing.

"The Working Wardrobe will take them to the next step. We’ll help them get the look, so they get the job."

She added: "And yes, we did help that customer get a suit for his interview and yes, he did get the job. So we know it works."

Tony Cottam, head of employment and enterprise for Bolton at Home, said a suit donation drive would start this month. The scheme is open to anyone who is looking to get into work.

He said: "For me this is the final piece of the jigsaw in helping people get back into work. We do a lot of pre-employment help and this is the final piece.

"We have had a lot of people getting in touch to help."

The shop should be open in spring but help is available for those who need it now.

For more information visit http://www.boltonathome.org.uk/news/working-wardrobe-3531/