“I’ll wear my best tracksuit to the interview,” I heard one of our customers saying.
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.
So we’ve hatched a plan. I’ve joined our Employment and Enterprise Team specifically to set up the Working Wardrobe in the town centre where interviewees can get kitted out for free.
It’s taken some planning but we’re now about to sign the lease on our new shop unit and it’s all getting vey exciting.
It’ll work like this. The Working Wardrobe shop will stock ‘gently worn’ suits, appropriate interview attire, shoes and accessories all donated by local businesses.
After being referred our clients will make a one-to-one appointment at our shop where they’ll be given a full interview outfit plus shoes and whatever accessories they need. Crucially they’ll also be given advice and support on what to expect at the interview.
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.
For me, this is all very different from what I’m used to. I’ve set up businesses from scratch before but this is completely different. This is not about maintaining a healthy balance sheet or scrutinising the profit margin. No money will change hands. The only transaction will be... well, it’s all about making a difference to people’s lives and its going to be called “Working Wardrobe”.
In the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about our preparations before we launch and I’ll let you know how you can best support us.
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!k here to edit.