Sheffield charity expands to help unemployed women dress to impress at job interview

It can often be the very first impression at a job interview that counts.

Friday, 2nd August 2019, 15:28 pm
Updated Monday, 5th August 2019, 11:39 am

When you walk through the door it is your body language, what you are wearing, and how you act which can set you apart from the rest.

That’s why Vanda Kewley established The Suit Works, a charity that has offered a free service to help unemployed men dress to impress for the last three and a half years.

And due to its success, the Sheffield charity have officially launched a service to cater for women.

The charity hosted it’s launch event for the women’s service on Friday, August 2, to introduce the project to prospective clients, who are often referred by organisations that work with the unemployed.

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The night included a host of entertainment, including a style-off in which men and women were pitted against each other to showcase their ideal interview attire.

Vanda said: “At every meeting and every event everyone was asking me when I would be doing a scheme for the women so we finally decided it was the right time.

“It has taken lots of planning and will need more fundraising and more staff but it is a pilot project that we’ll continue to develop over the coming year."

The Suit Works accepts donations of decent threads and once Vanda has weaved her magic, by offering styling sessions, along with workshops to help job seekers hone their interview techniques, her clients stride out cloaked in confidence.

Speaking of the new service for women, Vanda said: “It will be very similar to what we offer for men. We will have a chat with the candidate about their interview, about any nerves they have and help them prepare.

“We will then hopefully go through the clothes and help make them feel good and confident. We will help them prepare for their interview and if they need it we will support them.”

Vanda’s background is in charity finance and admin, however after training as an an image consultant in 2002 she found that due to the financial crash there was little demand for her services.

So, with an urge to help others she spent two weeks volunteering at London charity Suit and Booted – something that changed her life forever.

Her determination to replicate the model took her all the way to Sheffield Soup, a pitching contest for start-ups, where she won £620 towards the launch of the charity.

In its first year, The Suit Works had 73 clients, last year it had 120. Some 55 per cent get a job within six weeks.

It is situated in Mowbray Street, Kelham Island, with formal clothes coming from ‘suit drives’ at companies and firms.