The Suit Works - Member Profile
2nd December 2020
The Suit Works is a free service to help unemployed people succeed at interview through personal styling. Find out more about how they are helping the most vulnerable in our region get back into employment and what the future holds for the service.
If you are familiar with the amazing charity sector in Sheffield, we have no doubt you will have heard of The Suit Works; a charitable organisation supporting unemployed people by providing smart clothing for job interviews along with a personal styling session and interview coaching.
Run by Vanda Kewley and her colleague Faye Mellors, they have been dressing clients and helping them succeed at interview for nearly five years.
Clients are referred from a variety of charities and organisations including the DWP, Sheffield City Council and The Princes Trust.
Their clients are given formal clothing, to keep, and a styling and interview coaching session to help them look fantastic, feel confident, and perform well. This unique service, available to both men and women in the region removes a basic barrier to employment and addresses the issue of clothing poverty.
The current crisis has, unsurprisingly, had an effect on the service and they are now working hard to ensure that The Suit Works will be around to support those affected by recent job losses in the coming months. At the beginning of the year they had seen an 183% increase in referrals over the previous year. Whilst they acknowledge that they aren’t a frontline service, they know they will be part of the infrastructure that helps rebuild Sheffield City Region. The unprecedented number of people losing their jobs and seeking new work requires an assertive and collaborative response, which Vanda and Faye are keen to be a part of.
Although recent funding cuts are a concern, they remain positive and are always keen to explore further options to maintain the service. One of which is to create a trading side that utilises the enormous amounts of donations they receive. With the right support, they are confident they can contribute to the city’s vision of a sustainable future whilst continuing to provide their unique service.
Vanda explains: “We receive a huge amount of donations each month, and whilst a lot of these donations go direct to our clients, we have a number of items that are either inappropriate or in need of repair. We work with local charities and send items on where possible, but we also mend, upcycle and create new items. We are eager to ensure nothing goes to waste and we would like create our own income stream, so exploring a sustainable retail arm seems a natural progression for us as a charity.”
Whatever the future holds, The Suit Works are determined to support as many people as they can both during and long after the crisis has passed.