Clothing project rolling

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013
Tayla Alexander

WALK IN: Waitemata District Health Board Mental Health Service staff, from left: Maree Martinovich, Nigel Swain-Williams, Sarah Williams, Peter Blake and Maggie Munford are running a clothes and accessories lending initiative for their mental health clients.

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A walk-in wardrobe full of stylish clothes, shoes and accessories sits inside the Waitemata District Health Board Mental Health office.

Items from the Clothing for Confidence wardrobe are aimed at boosting the self-esteem of those struggling with mental illness.

The wardrobe is run by mental health service staff and is made up of items donated by employees, friends, family and clients.

Clinical psychologist Maree Martinovich started the initiative with colleague Maggie Munford.

"We were in reception one day and noticed the staff were all well dressed but many of our clients weren't. Some were noticeably struggling to afford clothes," she says.

The pair began collecting the clothes and storing them in a small room in the office.

But it wasn't long until they had to upgrade to a bigger space, Ms Munford says.

"Initially we set up to provide outfits for special occasions like weddings and job interviews but we've been so overwhelmed we've extended to clients in need."

A mother of three who was unable to provide her children with warm clothes over winter is one of many to have benefited from the wardrobe, Ms Martinovich says.

"People would like to take pride in their appearance, but for those on the sickness benefit, even opp shops can be too expensive."

Some medications prescribed to their clients can also trigger weight gain, Ms Martinovich says.

"When this happens they can't afford to just go out and buy brand new clothes to fit."

She says larger sizes for both men and women, particularly size 14 and above, are in particular demand.

Seeing the impact a new outfit can have on those in need is just reward, Ms Martinovich says.

Some of the items are so nice even the staff have had their eye on them, Ms Munford says.

"We look at it like, ‘would we wear that'?

"If it's not up to scratch we put them in the clothing bins."

A rack of baby and children's clothes has also proven popular.

Donations of clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery and accessories can be dropped in to the Waitemata Mental Health Service reception at 44 Taharoto Rd in Takapuna between 8am and 4.30pm on weekdays.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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