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Empowering through an outfit: Our work with The Working Wardrobe

POSTED: 16/02/2024

Article by: Great Places


In a chat with Natasha Bernard, Project Manager of Working Wardrobe, she had shed light on the inspiring initiative that aims to transform lives through the provision of professional attire and confidence-building support. Alongside her, Peter Crean, Community Partnership Manager for Great Places, discusses the role that Great Places plays in funding and supporting this impactful project.


Origins and Expansion:


Working Wardrobe officially launched in September 2021 as a Trafford-based initiative funded by Trafford Housing Trust. Natasha Bernard, who joined Groundwork in April 2021, leads the project. Initially set for a two-year pilot, the project exceeded expectations, thanks to additional funding from Great Places. This enabled Working Wardrobe to extend its reach into Salford and secure pop-up locations across different areas.

When asking her about the future, Natasha expresses the need for more referrals and additional funding to expand the team. The current capacity is at full throttle, necessitating the hiring of more staff to accommodate the increasing demand for services.


Where does Working Wardrobe operates


Working Wardrobe’s presence extends across diverse locations throughout the week. On Mondays, they operate in Stockport, Tuesdays and Thursdays cover areas between Tameside and Trafford, Wednesdays focus on Salford, and Fridays conclude the week back in Trafford. Additionally, there are plans to potentially include Eccles in their itinerary.


How It Works:


The mobile service operates through a specially equipped van. Clients are contacted, sizes and preferences are noted, and a curated selection of attire is transported to designated locations. The setup includes a mirror, a rail, and a privacy screen, ensuring a professional and personalized experience.


How to receive this service?


Potential clients can initiate contact by reaching out through employment, housing, or financial support channels. Referral forms, available on the website, facilitate a seamless connection. The process prioritizes removing barriers for individuals facing challenges, making attire an asset rather than an obstacle.

The primary goal of Working Wardrobe is to boost confidence and eliminate clothing-related barriers to employment. Natasha emphasizes the transformative impact of providing suitable attire, enabling individuals to shine in interviews. Beyond clothing, the project contributes to reducing textile waste by relying solely on second-hand donations.


How is Great Places involved:


Great Places is proud to be an important supporter of this project, funding it for 12 months to benefit its tenants in Trafford and Salford.

Peter Crean highlights how this initiative aligns with Great Places’ commitment to supporting its tenants in various aspects beyond housing:
“Though our partnership with Working Wardrobe we can see the real difference dressing well and boosting confidence can make for someone trying to find a job. At Great Places, we want to provide more than housing, and with this project we also offer help to our tenants on their path to success. Our partnership with Working Wardrobe lets us directly support and empower our residents in Trafford and Salford, making it easy for people to connect, we want to make sure this transformative service reaches those who need it most.”


The Service Journey:


The comprehensive service begins with a referral, followed by a pre-dressing form to understand the client’s needs. From styling sessions to interview coaching, the project encompasses every aspect of preparing individuals for job interviews. The service extends even after success, providing capsule wardrobes for those securing employment.

Working Wardrobe caters to any Great Places tenant over 16 years old, with a focus on those actively seeking employment. The service is not restricted to attire alone, as it includes job stock clothing for those needing specific attire to start a new job.


Workshops and Upcycling:


Leonie, the project assistant, shares details about workshops that complement the project. Upcycling sessions, utilizing fabric scraps, not only contribute to sustainability but also provide creative skills training where nothing goes to waste.

Working Wardrobe’s impact goes beyond clothing, it’s a proof of the potential of empowerment and sustainability, fostering confidence and success in their customers and providing a key tool to improve people’s lives and expectations.

Finally, Natasha invites organizations and individuals to contribute by donating formal and professional attire. Plus and petite sizes and both men and women shoes are especially in demand. Visit their website (https://www.gmworkingwardrobe.co.uk/) if you want to get involved.

To get in touch you can also email Natasha at Natasha.Bernard@groundwork.org.uk or contact them via their social media channels.



Article by: Great Places