The 1st Impressions charity, founded by staff in the University of Bath’s School of Management, is celebrating styling more than 200 women in the past two years, ready for job interviews or for starting their employment search.
The charity collects high quality donations of workwear and offers individual styling sessions to help women access a professional outfit, and boost confidence and self-esteem.
Staff and students across the University, and women from the local area, make up a small, friendly team of volunteers. Dr Jane Ellis-Brush, Co-Director, is hoping to welcome new volunteers to join the charity to sustain its achievements.
“We are a tiny charity, run completely by volunteers, making a big difference to the women we support,” said Dr Ellis-Brush. “We offer a warm and encouraging space for the women we meet, and the transformation when people leave us is quite special.
“It’s not just about the clothes, it’s the confidence and self-belief that it gives women, ahead of a job interview, for starting their job hunt, or for embarking on a new venture.”
Volunteers welcome clients to the charity’s boutique in Fairfield House, Weston, and take pop-ups to job centres and job fairs in Bath, Bristol, Yeovil and Newport.
Bee Harding-Bentley came into contact with the charity through an event hosted at Yate job centre. She said: “From the moment I walked in I was made to feel confident and at ease. They really helped me to find the balance of my own style and professional wear, in a fun, helpful way.
“I learned a lot from our session and feel I am now able to walk into an interview feeling confident that I am presenting myself in a way that I am both comfortable with, and that shows I am suited to the job.”
The charity regularly supports women at HMP Eastwood Park, finding suitable outfits ahead of release, as well as for court appearances. It has helped survivors of domestic abuse in partnership with Plymouth charity Gifted Women that supports women to overcome disadvantage, and Ukrainian and Afghan refugees settled in Bath and Bristol.
Volunteers are needed to sort through clothes donations, to prepare outfit selections for women, and to run pop-up sessions locally and in the region. There are also opportunities to help with promoting the charity, and administrative tasks.
“It’s a really rewarding and enjoyable experience to meet women needing our help, from all walks of life, and our volunteers make a great team,” said Dr Ellis-Brush. No experience is needed and we would love to hear from people who think they can spare some time to help us reach more women.”
For more information, or to discuss volunteering for the charity please email Jane@1stimpressions.org.uk