CLIENTS of ac.care’s diverse services had the opportunity to collect a free set of clothes when a mobile wardrobe on wheels visited the Limestone Coast Homelessness Service last week.
Operated by not-for-profit partners AnglicareSA and Thread Together, the service takes excess stock from Australian fashion stores and uses vans to deliver the new clothes to communities in need, such as people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The brightly coloured van packed with new donated clothes, including designer and other top-shelf items, visited ac.care’s Mount Gambier and Millicent community centres on its first visit to the Limestone Coast.
ac.care Limestone Coast Homelessness Service support worker Kelly McGuinness said it was wonderful to provide the additional visiting service to clients.
“A new set of clothes can make a remarkable difference to someone’s self-esteem and sense of dignity, especially if they have interviews for employment, housing or other commitments coming up,” she said.
“This donation of clothing will allow those trying to secure a better future to take pride in their appearance without having to choose between updating their wardrobe or meeting other essential costs of living.”
A Mount Gambier woman also named Kelly said she “lost everything” when the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the loss of her employment and left her at risk of homelessness.
“Support from ac.care made a huge difference,” she said, explaining the agency’s housing and financial support programs, along with emergency relief, including food supplies, helped her navigate a challenging time in her life.
She said the free clothes she collected last week was a bonus.
“I am normally an op-shopper or rely on hand-me-downs, but it was so nice to pick something brand new off the rack,” she said.
Young couple Kym and Monty also welcomed the visit by the mobile clothing van and said the free clothing would help spread their limited finances.
“We wouldn’t usually have new clothes like this,” Monty said.
The couple was previously assisted into transitional housing by ac.care and Monty said their case worker also encouraged them to be involved in the community.
“These guys helped me a lot to get where I am today,” he said.
Since launching in April 2018, the Anglicare SA and Thread Together partnership has prevented more than 150,000 items of brand-new clothing, valued at an estimated $12m, ending up in landfill.
Earlier this year, the program supported its 15,000th individual in South Australia.
AnglicareSA community services executive general manager Nancy Penna said the simple initiative had a profound impact on people working to turn their lives around.
“We all know how much clothing helps to define who we are and how we feel,” she said.
“For those who are experiencing hardship and social exclusion, access to new clothing plays an even bigger role in enabling dignity, choice and self-esteem.
“Regional communities in South Australia face unique economic and social challenges with limited access to support services – our mobile wardrobes enable us to reach people in these areas.”
During 2020, the program delivered clothes to nearly 3000 South Australians, including people affected by the Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills bushfires and others impacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Limestone Coast visit by the Thread Together van was supported by CMI Toyota’s CMV Foundation and RAA grassroots giving sponsorship.