Wearing a suit to a job interview is something most people will do at some point in their lives. Be it an Armani number for a job in The City, or something more modest, an interview suit is an essential part of the preparation and something we budget for.
But the reality for many disadvantaged young people, particularly those who have experienced homelessness at some stage in their life, is that what we might take for granted is a barrier to them finding a job.
That is why Centrepoint has become part of the A Suit for Success campaign. Created by the tailoring company A Suit That Fits, the campaign asks the public to donate an unwanted suit and give a young person not only a practical item they can use, but the confidence that they look the part and the feeling they belong in a professional environment.
Last year A Suit for Success received a fantastic 1,000 donations and it's our hope that the public will again have a rummage in their wardrobes to help. As well as young people from Centrepoint, suits will be donated to fellow youth homelessness charity Amber and young people supported by Right Futures, who work with young people who are not in employment, education or training to find their first long-term role. All donors will receive a £50 tailoring voucher as a thank you.
With more almost one million under-25s currently unemployed - including more than 76,000 who have been out of work for more than 12 months - young people like those we support at Centrepoint can find themselves a long way down the pecking order when it comes to securing a job. The simple donation of a suit can help build their confidence and raise their aspirations.
But of course it takes more than a suit to support a young person into work and, once they've been suited and booted, A Suit That Fits and Right Futures will work with Amber and Centrepoint to find a number of young people work experience placements.
At Centrepoint we provide more than just a safe place to stay, working with young people to help them overcome any physical or mental health problems they might have, and to build on whatever educational qualifications they have.
Sadly in many cases it is a matter of starting from scratch to help them build their skills. Nationally, 70% of school-leavers have 1-4 GCSEs. At Centrepoint that figure is just 20%, with a further 14% having no GCSEs at all. Our learning team ensure that each of 16-25 year-olds who stay with us annually has access to courses to help them achieve qualifications in core subjects like Maths and English, as well as support to apply for further education courses.
Businesses can play a huge part in preparing young people for employment. Many companies are involved in Centrepoint's Workwise programme, helping to teach young people skills like CV writing and interview technique, right through to providing work experience with employers from hotels to law firms.
A Suit for Success won't end youth unemployment overnight, but it will make a big difference to hundreds of disadvantaged young people who are working hard to get a job and just need that extra boost to put them over the finishing line.
Unwanted suits can be donated at sites all across the UK until 31 May. Special roadshows will be coming to towns and cities during this period, so there're plenty of opportunities to drop off an unwanted suit. To find the nearest donation point to you and more about the campaign, visit: http://www.aSuitThatFits.com/aSuitForSuccess