Working Wardrobe: you get the interview, we provide the clothes

At R3 ETE, one of Blenheim’s education, training and employment services, we support individuals with a history of drug or alcohol use to further their recovery. We can offer advice and guidance on how to get back to work or how to start training for something new. Karen and Kelsey, staff at R3 ETE, tell us about Blenheim’s first ‘Working Wardrobe’ – you get the interview, we provide the clothes!

Working Wardrobe

When one of our clients make it far enough to get an interview, they’ve come so far in their recovery journey. They can achieve anything. We started up the Working Wardrobe because we don’t want our service users to fall at the final hurdle when they get their interview – we want them to feel their best, and at their most prepared.

When Karen joined the ETE team, she was brimming with excitement. She sparked the idea that it would be great to be able to clothe people for work or training interviews, to help them feel even more prepared. We already support service users who need specific clothes for construction jobs – why couldn’t we do the same for other professionals?

We did plenty of research whilst we were setting up the Wardrobe so we had something great to aspire to. We found Smart Works who are a pan-London and national project providing interview clothes for women who are out-of-work and on a low income. We also looked at Suited and Booted, a smaller project in St Paul’s providing suitable interview clothing to vulnerable, unemployed and low-income men.

Thoroughly inspired, we started to set up the logistics of the working wardrobe: finding a room in the R3 ETE service, preparing the ETE resources and interview pack, and doing outreach for donations from big companies.

We kitted out the wardrobe with donations from staff, friends and family. Then, in April 2016 we struck gold – we were given a stand at The Exchange, Ilford fashion show. We collected generous donations from the public, received some vouchers from the shopping centre and started making connections with the local shops! We’re looking forward to being at the next fashion on show in the Autumn.

“This experience has helped me to become more self aware and develop a plan for my life; it has helped me to maintain belief in myself.” – R3 Service User

As well as getting an outfit to make you feel your best during your interview, we can offer:

  • interview skills and advice,
  • an interview pack to take away and help you prepare,
  • further support for applying for jobs or training, and
  • in-work support once you get the job.

For Kelsey, the Working Wardrobe is there to give that extra confidence boost to our service users when success might feel just out of their grasp. That confidence can be life changing.

The world is your oyster – we want to support our clients to have a great chance of getting the type of job and future they want and deserve.

Karen Salahi and Kelsey Brown, R3 ETE staff

A Service-User’s PerspectiveWorking Wardrobe

Gabi has been working with ETE and the Day Programme since earlier this year. She is currently abstinent. Gabi recently went for two interviews and was kitted out by the ETE team from the working wardrobe. She also attended a session on interview skills.

Without the input of the Working Wardrobe, she would not have had the confidence to put herself forward for work. She is without permanent housing and has been struggling with a chaotic lifestyle. She is hoping that once she gets a job she will be able to look for private rented accommodation which will help her in her recovery journey.

R3 ETE is part of the integrated drug and alcohol service in Redbridge. To use the Working Wardrobe, clients must be engaged with the R3 ETE team and actively seeking work.

If you are interested in using the Working Wardrobe, or if you want to donate clothes or vouchers, please contact Karen at R3 ETE. We would appreciate donations of good quality, work appropriate clothing and shoes.

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