Dig out those unwanted suits that still ooze style but may not be perfect for your wardrobe - Thrive's Birmingham Suit Amnesty is just weeks away.

The initiative to provide suits to men and women looking for jobs, who may not be able to afford their own outfits, was officially launched late last week - weeks ahead of the amnesty that takes place on Friday, October 12 at the ICC.

The driving forces behind the amnesty are Graham Nicoll, an associate director at Barclays Wealth, and corporate fundraiser Fidelis Hynam who were inspired at a Thrive forum brain-storming session.

Graham explained that the suit amnesty idea evolved when a discussion began about the number of suits many business people own but rarely wear.

"The idea was borne out of a thought that those in the fortunate position of working in business could actually make a difference to people who were looking for jobs by donating their suits," said Graham, who is on the committee of Coventry & Warwickshire Prince's Trust.

"Very often there are people with less privileged backgrounds who don't have access to funds and are trying to get a job but want and need some help to get on the ladder."

One of the first to pledge his support is Iain Ross-Mackenzie, aka Gonzo, the Operations Director at Mechu, who dug out a favourite suit to donate to the amnesty.

He said: "I think the amnesty is absolutely fantastic - everyone in business should donate a suit. Along the years there have been times when I have been strapped for cash, I think everyone has at some point.

"Everybody should donate a suit - it might change someone's life."

The suit that Iain is donating certainly changed his life. He recalled: "This suit is a Dehavilland suit, I got it from somewhere like Moss Bros, it was something like #150; I bought it for an interview at Live Cafe when I first started working for the management company that became Living Ventures, owners of The Living Room."

The idea has already caught the imagination of businesses - Mailwash, the Broadway Plaza based dry cleaners, have pledged to ensure the suits are in first class condition before being delivered to charities.

Final decisions still need to be taken on which charities will receive the suits and it is hoped any organisations who want to be part of the amnesty should get in touch.

Fidelis said it was important that the idea is kept simple and straight forward.

"The suit amnesty is just one part of the jigsaw. There is always a lot more people can do but we want to show how a simple idea can work in practice," she said. "We are hoping people will see the value in donating a suit that is still presentable and would make the right impression at an interview."

Anyone who can help support the Thrive suit amnesty should get in touch with graham.nicoll@barclays.com or contact Thrive writer Annie Roberts - annr@dircon.co.uk or 01536 263472.

Charities who feel they could use the suits to benefit individuals they support should contact Fidelis Hynam on 07739728566.

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