On my roster day at the Fitted for Work Melbourne boutique, we outfit women experiencing disadvantage in donated business clothing and prepare them for interviews. There are smiles and laughter between us that embraces our clients and breaks the ice as we work together seamlessly. It’s a busy time, always, but rewarding and such fun.

 

Over 12,000 women have come through the doors of Fitted for Work since 2005. There have been so many clients who have made us shed a tear, shared a laugh with us, been depressed or upbeat, talkative or quiet, but who have all reminded us that despite circumstances, we share so much.

 

Rani

Rani, a delightful Indian woman who came to Melbourne some years ago with her husband and two babies. Now that the youngest has started school, ‘Rani’ said it was time to expand her world. She completed our Transition to Work program, which matched her with a mentor, boosted her confidence and helped her realise that she was not so different from other women in the same situation. The course and the outfits she received gave Rani momentum and her outlook had lifted. Rani felt like she was on the threshold of change and was enthusiastic about that. She hugged us all as she left laden with bags and cheery good hopes.

 

Kylie

Kylie, 18, had completed hospitality training as part of a special program that works with street kids. Her case worker accompanied her, and told us Kylie had been homeless and living rough for some years before entering the program, and had such determination to change her life. She’d done her training in a busy, classy restaurant learning front of house, and was now looking forward to interviews in the hospitality field. Her eyes lit up when she talked about the restaurant where she trained, and about what she enjoyed in hospitality. She had such pride in her ability to work in a fine dining restaurant. She knew she needed a basic black outfit, but like any teenager, her eyes brightened when she saw some colourful, fashionable tops. We teamed some with her black pants and jacket to show her how she could mix and match for going out after work. She looked proudly professional in the clothes and shoes we found for her. We sent her off with a couple of black and white interview ensembles… and the coloured tops.

 

Martina

Martina was a tall, slender woman in her late thirties. She spoke confidently, stated very clearly what she needed – she was applying for jobs in a corporate world in which she once operated very successfully and knew what look was required. She looked at herself in the suit she tried on, and dissolved into tears, saying it had been so long since she’d received any kindness. Martina had achieved success at a young age, first at university gaining her Master’s degree, and then rising quickly in a stellar career in Melbourne and overseas. Her personal life however was far darker as Martina endured escalating physical violence at home. After a dangerous incident that was a frightening wake up call, Martina turned her life around. In the three years since, now a single mother, she’d had to move house eight times. But she had worked hard on updating her business qualifications and worked as a volunteer for several organisations because she’d felt that helping others would help her. ‘It is the doing.’ She felt empowered wearing the outfits she was given, saying that they made her feel very different, gave her renewed confidence and self esteem, and that in such clothes ‘You stand taller and straighter.’

 

 

Janet

There was Janet, a middle aged woman who politely but unsmilingly announced rather firmly that ‘I only wear black’. The only black pants in her size didn’t fit, so she was offered grey and reluctantly tried them. They not only fitted, they were gloriously comfortable and she began to mellow, to smile, and then to chat. She agreed to trying more adventurous colour combinations, and was surprised at how good they looked , even making her look a bit taller and slimmer. And then the final enchantment…a pair of red shoes won her heart. She told us that she’d been out of work for some time, struggling with depression, loss of confidence and self esteem, and that an altercation with her landlord had brought her to her lowest ebb yet. She had dragged herself in, thinking there would be no clothes to fit her, and that would make her feel worse. ‘But you turned everything around, I’m going to feel great going to my interviews,’ she beamed as she left with more confidence, determination and optimism.

 

Sandra

Sandra knows now that ‘attitude is everything’, that the belief you do have abilities and opportunity can change your life. Constantly thinking she couldn’t do anything, she had spent day after day seeking employment, applying for jobs that she knew she didn’t have the skills to do, and not having decent clothes in which to go to an interview. Then she’d spotted an ad for a job on a ship, and instantly realised it was her dream job: ‘This is it, I’m going for it’. She successfully applied, and we outfitted her for the interview. She got that job, and despite the rigours of the training involved, she persevered and her self confidence grew with each test. She is still in that dream job, and says, ‘Now I feel like I can conquer the world!’ Every time she wears the clothes she was given, she recalls that feeling of confidence, that attitude of ‘I can do anything’ that she took into the interview that changed her life.

 

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Fitted for Work is a not-for-profit organisation and the first of its kind in Australia. Our mission is to help women experiencing disadvantage get work and keep it. We do this by providing a personal outfitting and interview preparation service and a range of mentoring, transition to work and career resilience programs. All our programs focus on developing a woman’s confidence and self-esteem as well as deepening the skills and knowledge to get work. We have services in Melbourne, Morwell and Parramatta.  Since 2005, we have helped over 12,000 courageous women step out of disadvantage and into sustainable employment.

Organisation Details
Sector:
Address: 
Ground Floor, Queen Victoria Women’s Centre 210 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Contact details: 

+61 3 9662 4028

 

anne@fittedforwork.org

 

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