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Now church provides suits for interviewees

19 October 2012


First impressions: St Mary Magdelen's, Chapelfields, is building up a good stock of suits 

First impressions: St Mary Magdelen's, Chapelfields, is building up a good stock of suits 

A CHURCH in Coventry is helping parishioners to apply for work by offering them access to a suit bank.

The Assistant Curate of Wals-grave on Sowe, the Revd Stella Bailey, believes that the bank is "a simple idea to solve what is a big problem".

"If you are on benefits, you can't necessarily afford a suit," she said on Tuesday. "There are lots of re- tired people who just have suits sitting in wardrobes which they no longer need, and this is a way of giving them a new lease of life."

The congregation of St Mary Magdalen's, Chapelfields, has already collected 20 suits, which people attending job interviews, or starting a new job, can borrow.

"They can take a suit away and use it for as long as they need it," Ms Bailey said. "We are also aware that, sometimes, you start a job and there is a level of dress that is expected, but you are not paid for the first month. The suits can then be recycled back into the system."

The bank is attached to the church's work club, established earlier this year to offer support to parishioners who are seeking employment. Ten people, most of whom are retired and have experience in interviewing people, or in education, are now involved in helping people to draft CVs and develop interview skills. The ten also act as "a listening ear for those who have been unemployed for quite a while".

A "surprising range" of people had attended so far, Ms Bailey said, from recent graduates to people nearing retirement.

Ms Bailey said that staff at the local Jobcentre had told her that they expected to deal with about 700 people a week, but were helping 700 a day.

"On the positive side, about a year ago they were only receiving about 250 jobs a week; now, it's about 1000; so there are jobs out there. It's about dealing with people's expectations and helping them see what transferable skills they might have."

The latest official statistics, released last month, showed that more than 10,000 people in Coventry are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, 4.8 per cent of those aged 16-64. This compares with a national rate of 3.9 per cent, but is almost 1000 less than last year.

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