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
"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