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Success comes to an early end

Wairarapa Community Networks co-ordination support person Marina Lira was once a client of Dress for Success. PHOTO/FILE

After five years of supporting women to break the cycle of poverty, community support organisation Dress for Success has closed its Wairarapa hub.

Dress for Success provided clients with professional outfits for job interviews, house viewings, business events, or graduations.

The Wairarapa hub had operated from several locations, most recently from a building on Worksop Rd, Masterton, that it shared with Hokai Tahi [Crisis Pregnancy Support].

Since it started records in April 2018, the Wairarapa hub had dressed 146 people, including 49 people for job interviews.

Dress for Success Wellington executive manager Philippa Wells said the organisation’s financial situation was the main driver behind the closure of the hub.

“Like many other organisations, covid-19 has impacted us hard,” Wells said.

Hubs in Wellington and Lower Hutt remained open.

“We hope to welcome many of our Wairarapa clients there when they can visit us,” Wells said.

Although the Wellington and Lower Hutt offices were experiencing higher demand than usual, overall revenue had reduced.

Wells said it was no longer feasible for the Wellington office to carry some of the costs of the Wairarapa hub.

The organisation was investigating ways to meet the ongoing needs of people in Wairarapa, including the possibility of a mobile service.

Wells said such a venture would need support from the community, which could come from sponsorships, fundraisers, or donations.

Former client Marina Lira had used the Dress for Success service before attending a job interview.

Originally from Brazil, Lira had arrived in New Zealand three years ago without suitable professional clothing.

She said Wairarapa hub manager Melanie Keatch had helped her not only with clothing, but also with her confidence.

“She gave me advice on what would be acceptable because it was my first time doing an interview in New Zealand,” Lira said. “She gave me tips on how to behave, and the clothes gave me a lot of confidence as well.”

Landing a job as a secretary, Lira returned to Dress for Success to access more clothing for her first week of work before her first paycheck came through.

“She gave me blazers, trousers, t-shirts, skirts, and blouses, as well as jackets because it was winter, and I didn’t have enough clothes in general.”

Three years on, Lira still used some of her Dress for Success clothes in her role as programme co-ordinator at community radio station Arrow FM.

In her other role providing co-ordination support for Wairarapa Community Networks, Lira had kept in touch with a range of charitable organisations, including Dress for Success.

However, she said the closure of the Wairarapa hub had taken her by surprise.

“It was great for the community. If you were looking to start a job or your career, and you didn’t have enough clothes and needed a boost in confidence, it was a great service.”

Lira said other organisations had expressed interest in continuing the work of Dress for Success.

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