• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub


ByLiz Luff

Jun 20, 2021

Trying to look as smart as possible is normal for any job interview but for many men, the cost of purchasing a suit can be a barrier to employment opportunities.

Now a North East-based Community Interest Company (CIC), set up by employment advisor Darren Tate, is helping remove that obstacle by using donated clothing to provide the necessary attire at no cost.

Set up in 2018 and aptly named Suitability, the CIC currently has two Community Hubs, at Anxious Minds in Newcastle and the Sara Project in Southwick Sunderland, and now has an additional donation point in Gateshead thanks to Team Valley-based company, SOS Group.

Darren, 38 from Sunderland, says: “As an employment advisor with a local employability programme, I had a young gentleman on my caseload who was excited by the prospect of an upcoming job interview but didn’t have the funds or access to any suitable interview attire.

“I donated one of my own suits and he went on to his interview looking and feeling confident. As a result, he got the job, and that made me think about all the other men who are potentially in the same position. There’s a fantastic national charity called Smartworks that helps women in this position but nothing locally for men, so that’s why I set up Suitability.

“Buying a suit, shirt, tie and shoes can be very difficult if you’re unemployed or on a low income and yet there are lots of men, like me, who have suits in their wardrobe they no longer use.

“It might seem a small thing but to feel your best, and to present yourself well, it’s important to look smart. Donating and recycling suits, ties etc to Suitability is helping open up new job and life opportunities for men who have been previously felt unable to progress simply because their wardrobe was lacking.”

SOS Group provides office technology support for clients ranging from local start-ups to the IAAF World Athletics Championships. They pride themselves on their community involvement and have donated more than £250,000 to support charities, talented young individuals and community organisations since they set out in business.

As well as providing a Suitability clothing donation point at their headquarters in Gateshead, SOS Group has also offered to provide IT services for the CIC when it finds a dedicated home of its own.

Andrew Skelton, SOS Group Director, explains: “We all know the stresses and anxieties of a job interview and it’s really important to go in there looking and feeling your best.

“Many of us have suits, shoes and smart shirts in the wardrobe we know we’re not going to wear again. By donating them to Suitability, you could help empower someone locally who could then successfully interview for a new job and that’s potentially life-changing.

“It’s a fantastic initiative and something we’re very proud to support. Our SOS Group staff have been delving into the backs of their cupboards to find suitable clothing they can donate and I’m sure our clients and suppliers will be doing the same.”

Suitability accepts referrals for assistance from local DWP and Employability Providers and, through its Community Hubs, offers support for men within the North East to look and feel confident to succeed.

The CIC is looking for donations of any spare suits, shirts, ties, shoes, accessories and self-care products.

To make a donation, please visit SOS Group, 356a Dukesway Court, Team Valley Trading Estate NE11 0BH. Or contact Darren Tate: suitabilityCIC@gmail.com/07731583535.

SOS Group supplies and maintains leading brand digital office equipment. As well as offering a full range of office management services, including unified communications, IT support, document management, cost consultation and managed print services.

In 2020 they were proud to receive Community Business of The Year at the Federation of Small Business Awards in recognition of their work and were highly commended in the North East Charity Awards 2020.