Dress for Work Transformations

It’s no secret at Dress for Work that we love a good ‘Before and After’. And our boutique showroom in Bankstown is no exception. Once a white, drab room devoid of any character or charm (or carpet for that matter!), the Dress for Work showroom has transformed over the last several months into an amazing space  which has now seen countless client transformations of its own.

The showroom itself evokes a feeling of a classic men’s store in uptown city centre, and clients are encouraged to see themselves as empowered individuals taking the first, crucial step in entering into the job market, rather than just individuals facing unemployment or other life difficulties. As a social work student, I feel privileged to observe the Dress for Work team adopt a client-centred approach with each and every client as they work to ensure everyone is respected and empowered when they enter the Dress for Work space.

One of the highlights of my placement has been witnessing the camaraderie amongst our groups as they enter the showroom for a fitting.  Young men who just minutes prior were aloof and shy,  now  channel their best  Anna Wintour  as they  exclaim “That tie is on point!” or “Wow, I love that European slim fit on you!”.  It has been both fulfilling (not to mention entertaining) to observe young male clients encourage each other with supportive feedback and share a few laughs in the process.

Ultimately, I believe it is a combination of the staff and the unique space that makes the Dress for Work experience such a memorable one for our clients. Everyone is made to feel comfortable  which is critical to establishing trust and rapport – the two elements that form the cornerstone of effective case management. Once trust and rapport are achieved, ascertaining the needs of the client often occurs organically, allowing us to effectively assist the client and refer them to other services if required.

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First In, Best Dressed

Never underestimate the power of a good suit. Just ask Dress for Work client, Con Karaiskakis from Sydney.

Con, a qualified accountant, experienced severe depression following the breakdown of his marriage. Although years have passed since the breakdown, Con continues to grapple with the host of mental health issues associated with the breakdown, including his inability to connect with his children.

For Con, it is clear that his children are his world. The breakdown led him on a downward spiral, including a complete loss of motivation and even at one point, homelessness.

Dress for Work is a not-for-profit organisation relying on the kind donations of the community to dress men who are in financial need for job interviews and important appointments. Con first attended Dress for Work three months ago, where he was issued with a jacket, trousers and a shirt.  At the time he required the suit to attend a job interview for an accountant position for a private firm located in the city. Asked where he would be if Dress for Work did not exist,  he smiles meekly and replies “I just don’t know”. Con stated that he would often look through bins outside charitable organisations to find clothing, only to find that the clothes were almost always for women and children.

As it so happens, Con did secure the role with his Dress for Work suit and continues to be employed today. Con attributes his employment as one of the factors which saved him from tumbling even further into his downward spiral. “My job gives me a much needed social aspect to my life now and keeps me occupied”.

Janette, a Dress for Work volunteer noticed the difference the suit made to his demeanour almost immediately. “He arrived quite reserved, slightly hunched but when he put that suit on, it was like he was a new man – he stood up straight and he was smiling ear to ear.”

Con stated that he was grateful to Dress for Work for providing him the suit to get him to the job.

Con’s story was featured in the  Canterbury -Bankstown Express, to read the full story please click here.

 

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