Edinburgh charity providing job interview suits for men makes desperate plea for new home

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A COMMUNITY project helping men escape poverty by providing them with clean suits for job interviews has launched an urgent plea for assistance after admitting it was likely they would be given notice to leave their current home by the end of March.

Duddingston-based Grassroots Clothing was set up in 2015 to ensure those out of work were dressed to impress employers during interviews, allowing them to secure roles as bank clerks, tour guides and council workers.

Archie Lowe, employment adviser for Forth Sector, runs a charity called Grass Roots Clothing which provides interview clothing for men.'' Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Archie Lowe, employment adviser for Forth Sector, runs a charity called Grass Roots Clothing which provides interview clothing for men.'' Pic: Lisa Ferguson

But the project – which recently received its formalised charity designation – is now under threat after learning their lease was “unlikely” to be renewed.

Founder Archie Lowe began the organisation with colleague Joanna Foottit out of a cupboard at his old office while the pair were working as employment advisors, but it has since grown to become a vital service for those looking to get back into work.

However, they are now preparing for the possibility of putting the project on ice after the organisation that allows them to be based at Duddingston Yards announced it was to pull out of Edinburgh.

And Archie, 54, said he is keen to see the project continue, despite their potentially impending departure from their current home, citing the “huge need” in the current Capital jobs climate.

He said: “We noticed that there were so many of these organisations doing some great work to promote employability, to give people who had been out of work employment skills, but then they were turning up for interviews in football shirts and trackies.

“It wasn’t making the best first impression on potential employers.”

“But the people who came to us to get into work didn’t have the money to be going out and spending on a suit, a shirt, shoes, the full works, we found a way to give them that boost.”

He added: “The one thing everybody says is that it immediately improves their self-esteem, they feel like a new person and suddenly you are looking at someone who has this new confidence, they can go into that interview without worrying about the first impression they are making.”

In 2017, the charity were unable to take up a full donation of more than 3,000 suits from RBS due to insufficient storage space and ended up having to pass some of the brand new stock on to fellow charities. Archie admitted the charity had “been here before” after their nomadic existence forced them to move to Duddingston Yards from Castlebrae Business Park less than a year ago. But he conceded a lack of available units for charitable organisations could force him to put their ever-expanding wardrobe into storage until a new location is found.

He said: “We haven’t had the official word yet, but realistically, we have to prepare for every eventuality.”

“We are trying to put a plan A, B and C in place because it could be that we are here one day and gone the next.

“Even if someone was able to offer some kind of storage space for a few months until we can get something sorted out, it wouldn’t be exactly what we wanted, but it would allow us to maybe get a more permanent solution put in place.”