New library scheme to lend smart clothes to jobseekers for interviews

Jobseekers unable to afford smart clothes for interviews will be able to borrow some thanks to a new scheme at a library.

The service is being set up at Brixton Library in south London and will lend outfits free of charge to anyone who has a job interview or entrepreneurs heading to meetings with potential investors.

Sonia Winifred, Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for equalities and culture, said: “We can lend an outfit for up to four days, either for an interview to get into work, or to apply for a better job.

“This is important support for individuals and low-income families in our communities.”

She added: “It’s as easy as borrowing a book.”

The scheme has been set up in partnership with ihateironing, an on-demand dry cleaning and laundry service based in Brixton, which has gathered suitable clothes that have gone uncollected by customers at their partner companies.

Abibat Olulode from Brixton Library and Matt Connelly of ihateironing with some of the clothes available
Abibat Olulode, from Brixton Library, and Matt Connelly, of ihateironing, with some of the clothes available (ihateironing/PA)

They will continue to source more clothes as the scheme progresses, as well as collecting, cleaning and returning them after they have been used.

Matt Connelly, ihateironing founder and chief executive, said: “First impressions count and how someone presents themselves is a big part of the assessment process.

“We understand that clothes for an interview can be expensive and not everyone can afford a smart outfit that they may only wear a couple of times, so we’re building a collection of clothes at Brixton Library that can be borrowed by the local community to help everyone dress for success, whatever their circumstances.”

The clothing, available to anyone with a library card, is being stored in the basement, where there is little footfall, and there will be screens behind which people can try outfits on in relative privacy.

The scheme also has a grant from London City Airport’s Community Fund, which will be used to enlarge the selection of clothes in an attempt to ensure outfits are available forr as many different body shapes and sizes as possible.

Mr Connelly said he hopes to be able to expand the scheme in future.

He said: “If the partnership proves to be a success, we’d love to engage with other libraries across the capital.”

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