A SCHEME to help people dress to impress and ace their job interviews has helped 69 people gain employment in less than a year.

Working Wardrobe was set up last year not only offers people appropriate garb for job interviews and it also helps them prepare for the interview itself ­— and is now in line for a top award. Saiqa Chaudhari reports.

At 47, I didn’t think it would be easy to get another job,"How Working Wardrobe made one jobseeker feel like a million dollars

The Bolton News:

Bolton resident John Fallows made use of the Working Wardrobe and support from Bolton at Home’s UCAN centres when he was made redundant from his job at a fencing company.

John, who lives in Tonge Moor, said: “At 47, I didn’t think it would be easy to get another job, but I knew that if I went to my local Ucan centre, I’d get the support I needed to get back into work. I’ve always struggled with interviews. I tend to seize up and I find it difficult to talk about myself and sell my skills to an employer. But with coaching from Ucan centre staff, and some practice, I’ve learned how to handle interviews better.”

This support came in handy when, just weeks later, John got an interview with online retailer, Amazon, for a job at its depot in Over Hulton. John was offered the job at the end of his interview and three weeks later started work as Fulfilment Associate.

He said: “I was invited down to Bolton at Home’s Working Wardrobe where they fitted me out with a new suit for the interview. I felt like a million dollars when I stepped out of the changing room, wearing my new pinstripe suit.

“My advice to anyone struggling to find work would be to give your local Ucan centre a try. I remember feeling a bit nervous when I first walked in. I had no computer skills at all. But everyone is so friendly and the staff are all experienced and know how to help you.”

Working Wardrobe has many people that have been long-term unemployed to get a job.

The longest time that someone has been out of work and gained employment is 20 years ­— but the scheme has also supported people into work that have never worked too.

How Working Wardrobe works

The Bolton News:

WORKING Wardrobe was set up in June 2018 and it has helped on average six people a month into work by providing the outfit and support they need to impress at job interviews.

Since it first started it has offered 141 people assistance ­— and has helped get nearly half of those into work.

Tony Cottam, Head of Employment and Enterprise at Bolton at Home, said: “As a social landlord, we see our job as much more than putting a roof over people’s heads. Bolton at Home is committed to supporting local people into work ­— not just our own customers – and is part of a network of organisations working with people to improve their confidence and motivation, among other support.

“Compared to these other areas we’re helping tackle, workwear is a relatively straightforward fix in helping people get interview ready.

“Our Working Wardrobe scheme came about when one of our customers was heard saying they’d wear their best tracksuit to an interview. For this customer, getting some decent clothes for his interview and creating that vital first impression was a real barrier to getting back into employment, so Working Wardrobe was born.

“We knew when we set this project up that clothes were an important element in our support network, but we didn’t realise how important a part they played in our customers achieving a successful outcome.

“A visit to Working Wardrobe can literally be the difference between them getting the job or not. Our team has so far helped 141 customers prepare for their job interview and 69 of those have gained employment.”

Working Wardrobe is one of a number of schemes set up by Bolton at Home’s support its tenants gain the confidence to look for and secure employment.

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It has a base in Bradshawgate which stocks ‘gently worn’ suits, appropriate interview attire, shoes and accessories all thanks to donations.

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

The work of the scheme is complemented by Bolton at Home’s wide-range of support through its Ucan centres, including help with job searches, writing CVs, interview coaching and preparation. The Ucan centres can also arrange for a range of other support to help people overcome barriers like low confidence and self-esteem, money or health worries.

First impressions last

The Bolton News:

Working Wardrobe’s motto is “First Impressions Last” and helps people continue to make a lasting impression after they have got the job.

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For if jobseekers are successful in the interview, they can return to the store and get additional clothing and receive work support for as long as they need it.

This after-support is said to be important because the transition from benefits to work can be difficult. They will be assigned their own officer that will help with any issues that may prevent the client sustaining that employment.

The service is available to anyone of working age who has secured an interview and not just Bolton at home tenants.

The success of Working Wardrobe has led to it being shortlisted for an award ­— Resident Employment and Training Initiative of the Year at the Northern Housing Awards 2019.

The winners of the Northern Housing Awards 2019 will be announced on 23 May at Emirates Old Trafford.

For more information about the scheme visit https://workingwardrobe.weebly.com/