Lives are already being changed by Thrive Birmingham Suit Amnesty that opened for business on Friday.
A stream of visitors turned up at the Town Hall in Birmingham during the session that encouraged individuals to donate unwanted suits, much to the satisfaction of volunteers.
Behind-the-scenes organising was undertaken by ‘suit champion’ representatives from a range of city businesses, coordinated by Fidelis Hynam and Graham Nicoll, Regional Centre Head at Barclays Wealth in Birmingham.
This year many charities hoping to receive suits were able to collect from the Town Hall and visitors included men and women who were keen to claim a suit for personal use.
Graham said: “It has been fantastic to see people coming to the Town Hall who will get the benefits of receiving one of the suits.
“This is the second time we have run the amnesty and our high expectations have not been disappointed. We collected more than 1,000 suits last year and we knew there would be less this time because people had already cleared out their wardrobes but we are still really pleased with the Amnesty’s support.”
The suit champions were able to rally support in their own offices and Graham said it was clear there was a lot of goodwill across Birmingham for the initiative that began from a simple idea suggested at one of Thrive’s forum meetings.
Graham said the Amnesty’s success confirms the findings of a survey recently undertaken by Thrive that highlighted a growing awareness of the need for businesses to support social responsibility initiatives.
The online survey revealed that nearly all respondents – 98.3 per cent – personally recognised the moral case for corporate social responsibility.
Graham said: “The survey findings confirm our own experiences at Barclays Wealth where for us a lot of the CSR work is being driven by new people coming in. During interviews there are always lots of questions and individuals will ask about the pay and the perks but they also ask what the company’s stance is on supporting community initiatives.
“It is important to people to know that before joining a company they are taking a wider view of the community.”
This year’s amnesty has seen growing support from individuals not working in city businesses but who want to support the initiative.
“What has been really fascinating is the number of calls we have taken from the wider community who have seen what is being done by businesses and want to offer their support,” said Graham.
Support has not only come from the suit champions but businesses.
Graham said: “The Town Hall is a fantastic central venue and we are grateful for their support – it has been a privilege to be here. Marks & Spencer once again loaned us the hanging rails and the team at Mailwash have been incredible.”
Mailbox store Harvey Harvey Birmingham is supporting the campaign by offering those who take good quality suits into the store a 15 per cent discount on a future purchase of formalwear. Good quality suits can be taken in to Harvey Nichols Birmingham until Wednesday, October 22nd and the 15 per cent voucher is redeemable in store until Wednesday, November 5 (ask in store for terms & conditions that apply).
The team at Mailwash, dry cleaners based in Broadway Plaza, also offered customers discounts – for a second year the business has made a generous commitment to ensure all necessary cleaning is done before distribution.
Kate Bartram of Mailwash, who was at the Town Hall session, explained: “It is just a great thing to do. There is not a lot a dry cleaner can give back to the community but this is a perfect opportunity.
“It is a lot of work but we have a great team who have been very supportive and helped make it happen. Just seeing people come in and being told they can have one of the suits makes it all worthwhile.”
The findings of the survey will now be a benchmark for future CSR activity and awareness across Birmingham. The research was coordinated by Thrive! Co chair Nick Venning of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sarah Gee, managing partner of Indigo Ltd on behalf of The Birmingham Post.
For a copy of the survey please email Annie Roberts, Thrive writer, firstname.lastname@example.org who would welcome individual’s comments about the findings.