Storage plea after clothing project given 3000 new suits

From left, Archie Lowe, MJ Bird and Marie-Clare Starrs
From left, Archie Lowe, MJ Bird and Marie-Clare Starrs
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A PROJECT which works to lift men out of poverty by giving them smart clothes for job interviews has issued an urgent plea for help after receiving a shock donation of 3000 suits.

The “phenomenal” gift is set to be handed over to Grassroots Clothing, a community project established in 2015 by the Edinburgh-based charity Community Renewal Trust.

But while the Grassroots team has spoken of its delight at the offer, they can’t yet take it up as their current storage unit is not big enough to house such a large collection.

Efforts to find storage space have so far fallen flat and now the Grassroots team is appealing for anyone who can help to get in touch.

Neighbourhood service manager Archie Lowe explained the donor, Royal Bank of Scotland, had originally offered an even larger 14,000 pieces, but that this was then scaled back to a more manageable 3000.

But Mr Lowe, 53, said this number of new items would still make a world of difference to the men they help.

He said: “We’d have loved to have taken the 14,000 suits and found a place to store them and get more volunteers involved.

“The dream is still there – we still have the idea that it will be a much bigger provision – but at the moment we have to keep it small because we are at the mercy of what things are given to us in the suit drives.” The creation of Grassroots Clothing comes in the wake of Smartworks, a similar group already in operation for women across the Capital.

Currently Grassroots only has around 50 shirts and 40 suits, as well as assorted casual items, and operates out of a small unit in Castlebrae Business Park.

Mr Lowe said being able take on the 3000 extra pieces would be a real “turning point” for the charity.

He added: “If you are talking about somebody who’s long-term unemployed and has no money coming in they might get the first interview [but] there is a complete lack of confidence.

“If you give someone a three-piece suit and they look in the mirror you can see their confidence coming back to them.

“If your confidence is rock bottom you might not do very well. It’s just another barrier we are taking away from people who are unemployed and face many others.”

Of the 3000 pieces provided by RBS, half will be men’s suits and the other women’s. The clothes are classed as “old stock”, meaning they are new but unused items.

For men, the bank is offering plain navy suits and for women, plain navy skirt and trouser suits.

Louise Johnson, uniform manager at RBS, said: “We’re delighted to be able to help Community Renewal Trust and their Grassroots Clothing project that provides suitable interview wear to those that might not otherwise be able to afford it.

“We hope they’re able to find a storage option that’s convenient for them, we will continue to store the suits where they are for now.”

Anyone who can help should contact Mr Lowe on 07828 432571.

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk