Our history - how we started
'Suited for Success brings together the corporate, voluntary, statutory and charity organisations in Birmingham to practically tackle the barriers of unemployment men and women in our city face on their journey to employment...'
Suited for Success began life in 2015 as ‘Project 14’, a CSR initiative brainstormed and launched by Gowling WLG and other professional services firms located in the West Midlands. Gowling WLG convened the programme with the help of David Richardson, regional MD of Lloyds Banking Group and Nick Venning, then marketing director at PwC, by writing to CEO’s and senior/managing partners of professional services firms in Birmingham and inviting them to nominate some of their junior/mid-ranking rising talent to take part.
Lorna Gavin, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Corporate Responsibility at Gowling WLG talks about how Suited for Success came to life, she says: "The goal was simple – bring together a small group of young professionals to form a volunteer consortium and identify a need for a disadvantaged community or group within the region. The members of Project 14 had to implement a scheme to meet that need and deliver a solution for it."
United to impact unemployment
The group recognised that unemployment is a major issue that needs tackling so they explored ideas around unemployment, confidence and the need for a decent outfit for a job interview conundrum and realised that they could do something about it.
The group partnered with Birmingham Central Foodbank who was also running piloting a job club at the time supporting their foodbank clients back into work. There was great synergy with Birmingham Central Foodbank and what Suited For Success wanted to do. The initial partnership with the foodbank was a great start as we saw the big overlap between food poverty and unemployment.
One of the group members Laura Holmes, an associate at law firm Gowling WLG, explains how Suited for Success got started:
“We wanted to come up with some sort of initiative that would help Birmingham in some way and went away and thought about it for some time. Then we came up with the idea to get gently worn workwear and give it to people who are out of work so that hopefully they can get jobs. We got into partnership with Birmingham Central Foodbank having identified Ladywood as an area we wanted to help."
From a pilot to a new referral centre
After a 6-month pilot project in partnership with Birmingham Central Foodbank in 2015 Suited for Success became a registered charity in January 2016 and moved into a new referral centre in Hockley in August 2016 which officially opened in January 2107 with managing director Patricia White at the helm.
Read a blog written by Lorna Gavin, (Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Corporate Responsibility at Gowling WLG) about how Suited for Success got started.