Help for ex-cons

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

JANE Trese­dor is putting her fash­ion nous to use in an un­ex­pected way.

She is the founder of the Fix Up, Look Sharp, a non­profit fash­ion styling ser­vice to help men fresh out of jail look good for job in­ter­views.

Pris­on­ers are gen­er­ally the most dis­ad­van­taged in the world of un­em­ploy­ment, Miss Trese­dor says.

‘‘Stig­mas make it dif­fi­cult for them to get work. And they’ve been told what to do for so long, they’ve lost touch with their in­de­pen­dence.

‘‘It is all about em­pow­er­ing these guys, giv­ing them a new ex­pe­ri­ence, and mo­ti­vat­ing them to go on job in­ter­views,’’ she says.

The idea for Fix Up, Look Sharp was born out of the Mt Eden res­i­dent’s ex­pe­ri­ence in the fash­ion in­dus­try and so­cial work.

She started her ca­reer at 19 work­ing for high-end New Zealand fash­ion la­bel World and ended up man­ag­ing the brand’s first menswear store in Auck­land.

The 32-year-old was also a Youth­line phone coun­sel­lor and in 2008 she de­cided that so­cial work was re­ally what she wanted to do.

Be­ing in­volved with or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Women’s Refuge showed her the other side of life but she kept a hand in re­tail while she saved for her OE.

‘‘Dur­ing the day I would help people with plenty of money and af­ter­wards I would help people with no money or clothes,’’ Miss Trese­dor says.

‘‘It was both sides of life.’’ She started the or­gan­i­sa­tion af­ter vis­it­ing Dress For Suc­cess – a char­ity that pro­vides women with clothes for job in­ter­views. ‘‘I sud­denly thought ‘oh my God, there is noth­ing for men’.’’

Fix Up, Look Sharp’s pi­lot pro­gramme was run at the end of last year out of World’s for­mer Deluxe store on High St.

Five ex-pris­on­ers got the royal treat­ment.

‘‘These people wouldn’t nor­mally walk into a high­end fash­ion store and get styled. It’s an un­usual ex­pe­ri­ence for a lot of them,’’ she says.

The pi­lot pro­gramme was a suc­cess and some of her clients are now in steady jobs. Miss Trese­dor didn’t specif­i­cally en­vis­age Fix Up, Look Sharp be­ing a pris­on­er­fo­cused ser­vice but she is glad it’s worked out that way. She has teamed up with PARS, for­merly known as The Pris­on­ers Aid and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion So­ci­ety, which sup­ports in­mates with their rein­te­gra­tion to the com­mu­nity af­ter their re­lease.

Her next step will be find­ing a per­ma­nent base for Fix Up, Look Sharp and she will then start ask­ing the com­mu­nity for do­na­tions of cloth­ing.

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