This article is from the first issue of CommBank's magazine, Brighter.

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Timing is crucial for women fleeing domestic violence, which is why they often arrive at refuges with no more than the clothes on their back and a few familiar things they’ve grabbed for their kids.

One program aims to make that upheaval more bearable. Thread Together, a not-for-profit that launched in 2012, works on a simple premise: pairing new but unsold clothing with people in need.

Described as “an ethical response to fashion excess”, Thread Together works with more than 1000 fashion partners to clothe 2500 people each week and has prevented 5.5 million items of end-of-line clothing from becoming landfill.

“Often women [fleeing violence] can’t go back to get items from their wardrobe.”

In November, thanks in part to its partnership with and funding from CommBank and its Next Chapter program, Thread Together launched the Wardrobe and Capsule Service. The service will install wardrobes in refuges for women and children impacted by family violence. Each wardrobe is stocked with brand new underwear, sleepwear and loungewear from its fashion donor partners and will be continually restocked. By the end of 2023, 100 wardrobes will be operating in women’s refuges around Australia.

A Thread Together volunteer A Thread Together volunteer

“Many women arrive at refuges after living in their car and wearing the same clothing for multiple days,” explains Anthony Chesler, Thread Together’s CEO. “They often can’t go back to get items from their home wardrobe so this is a way to close the gap when there’s an urgent need for new clothing.”

Key to the program, as with all of Thread Together’s work, is extending a sense of dignity to those in need. “It makes a huge difference to the women,” says Anthony. “It’s not solving the situation they’re in but it’s giving them more comfort and warmth.”

CommBank has also helped mobilise Thread Together’s clothing service by providing vans to take clothing to remote communities, disaster zones or people who are simply unable to travel. The collaboration isn’t only financial. As part of Thread Together’s corporate volunteering program, almost 1000 staffers put their hand up to help from across all areas of the CommBank business each year.

To find out how you can help, go to:

Story by Glynis Traill-Nash.

Read more articles from Brighter magazine.

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