Cire Training’s First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) has gone mobile with the launch of a pop-up roadshow to connect with even more women in the region who would benefit from the FICE experience.
Thanks to a Yarra Ranges Council 2021 Community Grant, FICE is reaching out to women who may otherwise find it a challenge to visit the Mooroolbark shop to access affordable quality clothing and, equally important, a range of support services and the opportunity to connect with others.
Cire’s Yarra Junction Community Hub hosted the first pop up event on Wednesday 28 April with others to follow at the Healesville Living and Learning Centre on Wednesday 12 May, Selby Community House on Wednesday 26 May and Warburton Redwood Centre on Tuesday 8 June.
The Yarra Junction event created much interest with its high visibility set up on the pavement outside the hub. Quite a few customers bought clothing and also received on-the-spot assistance through services such as resume writing.
FICE trainer Renee Cook (pictured) said it was great to see so much interest in FICE and to answer questions about the social enterprise which has gone from strength to strength since opening its shop front at Mooroolbark in mid-2019.
She also said there is now a permanent rack of FICE clothing for purchase at the Yarra Junction Hub. It will be refreshed regularly so spread the word. Donations can also be dropped off at the hub.
FICE emerged from Cire Training’s successful Women’s Warehouse program, BY long-term unemployed women in the Yarra Ranges region FOR local women experiencing financial disadvantage.
FICE is unique to our region with its innovative and bold approach to empowering women and fostering meaningful community engagement.
The initiative provides women with affordable quality clothing suitable for job interviews or other important occasions. However, the benefits go much deeper. Through volunteering in the shop, women gain a huge boost to their confidence and self-esteem, a sense of purpose and pride as well as a raft of skills sought by employees, particularly in the retail sector. The experience also provides pathways to other support services and referrals, training and potential employment opportunities.
The broader community has enthusiastically embraced the project as volunteer mentors to assist the women on their journeys as well as donations. First Impressions participants have been touched by the random acts of kindness and help from strangers, seldom experienced before.
First Impressions is a real-life training space, mentoring women to stand tall by preparing them for employment. Experienced trainers provide ongoing support to instil confidence and develop the skills necessary in the paid workforce, and transferable between jobs, as well as overall support. Some of the tangible benefits include project management/store management/retail skills/merchandising, sewing, design, and customer service/communication.
Of significance, Cire is looking forward to renewing its work-for-the dole partnership with local job provider, Employment Plus, in the not too distant future. Volunteers gain recognition for their hands-on work experience as well as access to lifelong employability skills, assisting the transition toward sustainable employment.
FICE supporters include Yarra Ranges Shire Council, Voices of Women (VoW), a not-for-profit organisation based in the Yarra Valley that provides advocacy for women in the region, the Australian Women Donors Network, Good360 and L’Oreal and the Commonwealth Bank.