Clothing Exchange a great boost for unemployed women

Support for long-term unemployed women throughout the Yarra Ranges and beyond has received a massive boost following the official opening of First Impressions Clothing Exchange at Mooroolbark in September.

A Cire-driven project, First Impressions offers quality and affordable women’s clothing and accessories suitable for job interviews and other important occasions. Equally important are the skills sought by employers and overall support gained by the volunteers who operate the project.

Clothing Exchange a great boost for unemployed womenThe exchange was the ‘brainchild’ of participants in the Women’s Warehouse Essentials pre-accredited program at Cire Training which aims to upskill and foster confidence in long-term unemployed women.

Currently located at Mooroolbark Terrace Shopping Centre, it is operated as a small business/social enterprise by women, and for women. Items can be purchased or simply hired to get the look, to get the job!

First Impressions is a dedicated real-life training space, mentoring women to standClothing Exchange a great boost for unemployed women 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.

Since its ‘soft’ opening in August, two women have found employment largely based on their involvement in helping set up First Impressions.

Adding to these inspiring success stories, Cire has secured a work-for-the-dole partnership with local job provider, Employment Plus, to help create opportunities for participants to gain lifelong employability skills, assisting the transition toward sustainable employment. Through the partnership, participants gain recognised hands-on work experience within a real work-like environment.

Employment Plus, estimates there are about 1205 unemployed women on their books throughout the Yarra Ranges. Employment Plus is just one of the job providers in the region so the actual number of unemployed women is much higher.

Another strong supporter is Voices of Women (VoW), a not-for-profit organisation based in the Yarra Valley that provides advocacy for women in the region ensuring their voices are heard in matters which concern them. VoW’s vision is for a society where women are safe, respected, valued, informed, empowered and free to make genuine choices in their lives. First Impressions directly aligns with VoW’s philosophy by supporting women re-entering or entering the workforce for the first time, and assisting them to boost their confidence and self-esteem and increase motivation and energy.

First Impressions has a sustainability and environmentally friendly footprint, with items being donated, recycled and reused, supporting sustainable and regenerative practices such as the circular economy and fair trade.

Thanks to the flexibility of a Mooroolbark Artist in Residence Project, First Impressions has been sharing a shop space at Mooroolbark. Cire is actively seeking financial support to open its own space in either Mooroolbark or Lilydale with the view of opening a second premises in Yarra Junction.

First Impressions recently received a small grant from Yarra Ranges Council to assist with shop fit-out and is featured on the Australian Women Donors Network’s project showcase.

Lend a Hand and UYCH

Lend a Hand is a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation that provides opportunities for unemployed people to build strong community partnerships by undertaking projects in their community to benefit their community.

Recently UYCH and Lend a Hand embarked on a joint project for the UYCH Family and Children’s Services’ (FACs) Mt Evelyn campus to upgrade a playground. This means that the children who attend the centre will benefit from the work of Lend a Hand volunteers and the volunteers themselves will gain transferable skills to take into employment. The project will take six months to complete and will provide opportunities for a team of ten volunteers to learn new skills and work in their community.

The children at FaCS Mt Evelyn are very happy to see how their playground is shaping up and the Lend a Hand volunteers are happy to have enthusiastic onlookers.

About Lend a Hand
They bring together skilled trades people and the enthusiasm of participants to run projects that allow people to learn and gain valuable experiences whilst making a difference to the community.

Lend a Hand is a Victorian and Queensland based NFP organisation delivering a variety of community projects for the benefit of the public. These projects assist providers to keep case-loaded job seekers safe, create sustainable employment opportunities along with additional Work for the Dole (WFD) openings for jobseekers.

How they operate
They support jobseekers by giving them an opportunity to gain skills and experience with on the job training. Safety is paramount so the provision of appropriate equipment and safety gear is also provided to maintain OH&S requirements.

Now for the best bit, job creation
Offering this service allows Lend a Hand to have a unique point of difference for jobactive providers, by developing sustainable entry level jobs for jobseekers along with added single or group based WFD opportunities as a by-product of using our service.  They will up skill newly employed workers with industry recognised accreditations and certificates moving them on to partner employers to generate additional entry level openings. Many jobseekers have gained the skills required and through this program have gone on to secure permanent employment.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 9.31.52 amFor further information about Lend a Hand call Penny Houben – 0434 003 751 or email or simply visit their website.