Increasing job market prospects by making boxershorts
Many – especially immigrant – women have difficulty finding their place in society. They have no jobs, little working experience and are often socially isolated, even though they are very motivated and have a lot to offer. Due to their cultures, many immigrant women already have a close affinity with sewing.
Van Hulley is a sewing workshop in Groningen. Since 2012 Van Hulley upcycles customers’ own shirts by transforming them into unique, sustainable boxer shorts. In a sheltered environment, immigrant women with poor prospects on the job market can gain experience, skills and knowledge. The women are given an education (sewing, but also a starter qualification for the intermediate vocational education level) while at the same time increasing their Dutch language skills, independence, self-confidence, self-esteem and their social skills and network. After completion of their education, the women are supported in finding a paid job, volunteering work or follow-up training.
The logical next step in the development of this social enterprise is now to expand its commercial activities, in order to reduce dependence on donations and thus helping more women in a sustainable way. In this light, Van Hulley also investigates expansion of the product range.
By offering these women structure, education and responsibility, their self-confidence grows, which results in more cohesion, both within their families and in their neighbourhoods. If through this experience their chances of abandoning dependence on social security increases, because they will be able to accept a full job, then it is a double-edged sword. In the past few years, 80% of the women succesfully completed their education and 60% of them started a job or follow-up training. In 2018, 18 women will start this 1.5-year programme.