Suit charity appeals for funds to continue work

Clothing, Archie Lowe, MJ Bird and Marie-Clare Starrs'. Picture; Neil Hanna
Clothing, Archie Lowe, MJ Bird and Marie-Clare Starrs'. Picture; Neil Hanna
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A COMMUNITY project that helps men escape poverty by providing smart clothing for job interviews says it fears operations could grind to a halt in weeks unless new funds are found.

Edinburgh-based Grassroots Clothing is now appealing for anyone who could help with funding to get in touch before it runs out of cash by the end of the month.

The project was set up in 2015 after its team realised there were groups offering similar support for women, but nothing for men.

Earlier this year they hit the jackpot after banking giant RBS donated a staggering 3,000 pieces of suit clothing to help the project on its way.

But now a lack of funds could mean the project could soon have to shut up shop unless a willing benefactor steps in to help.

Archie Lowe, of the Grassroots Clothing team, said it would be “devastating” if their work had to stop.

He explained that the team had enough cash to keep going until the end of September but were hoping to receive a “safety net” to allow them to look into securing charity status.

“If we could get some support to keep us going for a certain amount of months in that time we could do the paperwork to allow us to tap into funding,” he said. “It’s very much the unknown for us and in the meantime the clock is ticking.

“If there’s someone who could give us a safety net we could look into that further. We are just racing against the clock all the time.”

Grassroots currently operates out of a small unit in Castlebrae Business Park but needs a steady flow of cash to help meet the rent.

It was also given a shipping container by Mobile Mini – which they can use until the end of the year for free – after the Evening News highlighted their work.

The helping hand came as the project looked for extra space following a donation of 3,000 unused new uniform items from RBS.

Mr Lowe, 53, said they were now having to give away much of the clothes to other organisations in an attempt to reduce the amount of storage they need.

Grassroots will keep around 200 items to enable their work to continue in the short-term.

“At present we are in negotiations with 32 organisations from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and East Lothian to distribute the bulk of the clothing to them and their service users,” he said.

“[We] would be absolutely devastated to let this go down the pan.

“All of the organisations we are speaking to deal with the unemployed [and] disadvantaged and have said how there is need for such a project, not just in Edinburgh but nationwide. It’s soul-destroying because we wanted to benefit the city in which we are working.”

Mr Lowe said that the team had sent out a number of letters to businesses across the region but that they had not yet had any replies.

He appealed for anyone who thinks they might be able to help to give him a call on 07828 432571.