SURGO HELPS MEN TO STEP OUT IN STYLE
The generosity of Surgo staff, close friends and family means that many unemployed men could soon be stepping out in style for job interviews thanks to the brilliant work being done by a North East based-Community Interest Company, Suitability.
Established in 2018 by Darren Tate, an aspiring social entrepreneur, Suitability works with unemployed men, providing interview advice and clothing so that they not only feel confident, but look good when they go for job interviews.
All clothing is donated from people and businesses like Surgo, and there is the added benefit, that in donating pre-loved, pre-worn and now unwanted items, donors are not only putting their clothing to good use, they are also helping the charity to operate sustainably.
Which is why a smiling Darren Tate was at Surgo a few days ago to collect various shirts, ties, shoes and men’s toiletries that had been collecting over the last few weeks. He said:
“This is an amazing job! The generosity of people never ceases to amaze me and I would like to thank everyone at Surgo who has donated to the charity.
“For my main job, I work for Moving On Tyne & Wear, (a local employability programme that supports people with mental and physical health barriers gain access to education, employment and training) and was approached by a participant asking for help finding some free interview clothing. He had secured his first interview and didn’t have anything suitable to wear or the funds to buy anything.
“I was aware of a brilliant service for woman called Smartworks which offers a dressing service with free interview clothing and 1-2-1 interview coaching but there wasn’t anything set up for men within the North East.
“So, I donated my own suit to my participant with the result that he not only looked the part but had a new-found confidence which he took to his interview. AND HE GOT THE JOB! The suit was given back and the idea of Suitability was born.”
Buoyed by his early success, Darren then approached family and friends asking for more clothing and suit donations which were stored in his parents’ garage and loft. He then focused on businesses across the region and used his social media accounts to grow Suitability and gather more donations, allowing him to support any man who came for help.
The venture began to expand rapidly, as he explains:
“The stock soon outgrew the space at my parents’ house and Suitability was moved to a storage unit where I was given nine months’ free usage. Fast forward and we are now sustainable for 2021 and currently working with Sunderland University and College to support their graduates and graduations as well as having two community hubs set up: one is within Newcastle (Anxious Minds) and the other, in Sunderland (the SARA Project) to support communities directly.
“We are also working with a fashion intern from Sunderland University to focus on sustainable fashion, upcycling and adapted clothing for people with disabilities, so it is all systems go!”
Commenting on the support that Surgo employees provide to local charities, director, Dave Blyth added:
“After the success of our earlier clothing donation to Smart Works a couple of months ago, we were keen to support a similar charity for men, and we were made aware of Suitability– hence the request for smart interview items and toiletries – and I am delighted that so many people have got involved.
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“Supporting community ventures of this type is so important to Surgo and this is such an impressive charity doing some really effective work with the unemployed, so a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who donated and to our HR manager, Bern Adams, for co-ordinating the collection of items.”