A REGIONAL charitable company which helps men take the first step on the career ladder is set to expand after being donated showroom and storage space.

Suitability was set up in 2018 as a Community Interest Company (CIC) by employment advisor Darren Tate, to provide clothing for men who can’t afford suits for interviews.

Since then Suitability has helped hundreds of men and Darren has been inundated with suits donated by generous local and national companies, as well as individuals.

He now has more than 1,00 suits, as well as shirts, shoes and ties, and was struggling to accommodate them in his parents’ garage – while at the same time needing a showroom and consultation room in which to speak to and advise clients.

Now he has both, thanks to the generosity of Gateshead business centre Hypoint, part of the HyHubs portfolio which also includes Hoults Yard and Haylofts in Newcastle city centre.

Hypoint has given Darren free use of two workspaces, one for storage and another for a showroom, for six months.

“Hypoint’s kindness means we can step up, increase the number of men we’re helping and also look to expand the services we offer,” said Darren, from Sunderland, but now living in Ryton.

He explained the origins of Suitability: “In my work as an employment advisor, in 2018 I had a lady who I’d facilitated an interview for, but she didn’t have suitable clothes to wear. I came across an organisation called Smart Works who help women into employment and they provided clothes free of charge – and she got the job.

“Not long after 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 the right clothing.

“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.

“I realised there was no such service available for men and decided I could do something about it. The suits, shirts and shoes we can provide not only mean men attend interviews looking smarter, they have far more confidence which is so important for interviews. It might seem a small thing but to feel your best, and to present yourself well but it’s vital in interviews.

“It’s such a thrill when clients message me saying they’ve got the job. Obviously there were fewer interviews during the lockdowns, but we helped people with other important events such as weddings and funerals. Over the years we’ve helped people from the age of 14 to 64.

“Companies have been so kind with donations – national companies such as Next and local independent menswear shops such as Master Debonair. We’ve also had support from celebrities like Jason Manford and local law firms and organisations like the Sage Foundation and the Discovery Museum.”

Darren had been looking for the right spaces for several months when he attended a meeting with recruitment specialists Coleman James on Hoults Yard. “I was impressed with the set-up on the Yard and was introduced to the HyHubs team and things went from there. I’m delighted with the space we’ve been given by Hypoint, it’s central, there’s easy parking and it’s also easily accessible for public transport.

“Having the space means I can look at what more Suitability can do to help people into work. We already have hubs in Sunderland and Newcastle and some brilliant partnerships with organisations like University of Sunderland, but I know there’s still more we can do.

“I’d like to look at upcycling, providing adapted clothing for disabled people and I’d also like to explore how we can help more people with their mental health.

“We’re providing help for about 100 people a year, but with Hypoint’s help we can increase this number. I now have a base from which to grow and I’m going to be looking for volunteers to help me.”

Laura Goldston, Manager at HyHubs, said: “We were very impressed by the important work Suitability are doing and were happy to help Darren out. It’s sad to think that so many men might not get the opportunity to make the most of their lives through lack of the right clothes – and we’re pleased to be able to play a small part in Suitability’s mission to help.”

For more information on Suitability and how to donate clothes, go to www.facebook.com/suitability/

To find out more about HyHubs go to www.hyhubs.com