As part of our Behind Blue Walls series, we are really pleased to be able to support Smart Works, a UK charity that helps unemployed women to enter or return to work by providing them with the skills and clothing they need for interview success. An amazing 60% of the 3000 women they helped last year have gained employment.
How Smart Works began
Smart Works set up in North London, making their service available to unemployed women from across the entire city; by 2013 they had expanded and were able to set up a second base in Ladbroke Grove complete with a mock interview room and a private dressing room. The model for the charity was so successful that other branches opened in other UK cities: Edinburgh, Reading, Manchester and Birmingham.
Women who use Smart Works are referred to the service by other charities, Work Programme providers and staff at JobcentrePlus; highly trained, skilful volunteers at Smart Works then assess how each woman may need to be supported to maximise her chances of gaining meaningful, rewarding employment. Some women need advice on styling and clothing; others need interview coaching. The aim is always to boost each woman’s self-esteem so that she may project her new-found confidence at interview and impress her future employers.
How Smart Works helps women
This is a really practical charity. The women who go to Smart Works for help in securing a job are given a good quality outfit that is suitable for interviews – this clothing is donated by the public or certain retailers. The outfits are given free of charge to women who are referred to the service and who have a confirmed interview for a paid job or year-long apprenticeship. The dressing rooms are filled with attractive clothing and are beautifully set out so that each woman who enters feels pampered and cared for. Leaving the changing room with a beautiful outfit that is theirs to keep can have a hugely beneficial impact on the women’s self esteem.
Supporting Smart Works
We’re really pleased to be able to support Smart Works not only by promoting their aims here but also by storing their extensive wardrobe collections and donations of clothing until needed, free of charge at a Safestore unit in Kings Cross
You can support this worthwhile charity by donating high quality, clean outfits that would be suitable for interviews and work. Smart Works really appreciates these donations in any sizes and particularly in size 16 plus. If you have any such outfits in your wardrobe that you no longer use or need, please consider posting or taking them along to one of the Smart Works offices. Similarly, if you are able to donate money to the charity, rest assured that 97% of all financial support goes directly to charitable work and helps women to feel empowered, and improves their chances of gaining employment.
Finally, if you are able to volunteer any of your time, the charity is always looking for motivated volunteers to:
• find just the right outfit for each woman who uses their service
• help clients to improve their interview skills
• assist with sorting, steaming, hanging and presenting the clothing
• undertake administrative duties such as inputting data, handling calls and welcoming clients