How the Smart Works charity are helping women to gain employment

Smart Works exists to empower all women who need help getting into work. The charity’s mission is to bring positive and tangible change to vulnerable women, so they can break the relentless cycle of poverty and deprivation caused by unemployment.

This change is achieved by dressing and coaching unemployed women for their job interviews, harnessing the power of high-quality clothing and one-to-one coaching to reconnect women with their potential. This targeted solution has a profound and positive impact: 69% get the job within a month, starting a new chapter of purpose and economic independence for themselves and their families.

The Smart Works service is delivered in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle, Reading and Leeds. Over the past ten years, Smart Works has helped over 32,000 women.

The aftermath of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis means the value of employment has never been more crucial, nor the Smart Works service more needed. In April 2022, the charity launched an ambitious three-year strategy to double the number of women it helps annually from 5,000 to 10,000 women a year. This includes growing the reach of its existing centres and bringing the service to areas of need including Liverpool, Sheffield, and Cardiff.

Rekha’s story:

In 2022, mum of three Rekha felt demoralised and desperate.

Rekha had a first-class degree in finance, but after taking time out to look after her children, there was a gap on her CV that she struggled to explain. She had applied for hundreds of jobs and was shortlisted 10 times but could not seem to get past the final interview. After yet another knock back a recruitment consultant suggested she reach out to Smart Works. Rekha is now working as an accounts payable clerk and is saving for a deposit towards her first home.

“When I started looking for work, I kept on getting shortlisted but I didn’t know what I was lacking. No one could tell me what my weakness was. Always it felt like I had something missing. I was losing my hope, my confidence both physically and mentally. Having a job meant that things would not be so difficult for us financially. I wanted to build the best life for my children.

When I came to Smart Works they were so friendly. They set me up with a mock interview and it was the first time I got constructive feedback. The woman who did that interview gave me everything I needed to succeed at interview.

Then I went to meet the dressers and they made me feel so special. We picked out a beautiful dress and it is now my lucky dress because I wore it to the next interview I was shortlisted for and I got the job! Now anytime I need luck or it is a special occasion I wear that dress.

I came back for my second dressing with Smart Works after I got the job and chose another five dresses. Every week I wear these to work. When I put on one of these dresses on a Monday, it reminds me of how far I have come. It reinforces for me that I can be a confident working mum, who is making things better for all my children.

We are now saving to buy our own house because for the first time in a long time we are financially stable. Throughout my search my daughter was such a big motivator for me to try and make things better. She has seen what I have gone through and now she tells me she wants to work in finance or business. I have big dreams for her and they wouldn’t have been possible without Smart Works.”

WeAreTheCity are grateful to have had a partnership of support for Smart Works for the past seven years. Smart Works will also be the charity partner for our 2024 Rising Star awards, we are excited for them to join us as we celebrate 10 years of Rising Stars.

There are lots of opportunities to support Smart Works, please do visit their website, volunteer or suggest them to your companies as your charity of the year.

About Smart Works:

  • Smart Works is a dynamic, high profile and fast-growing UK charity that dresses and coaches unemployed women for success at their job interview.
  • We empower each woman by giving her the clothes and the confidence she needs to succeed.
  • The charity has existed for 10 years and has 11 centres across the country
  • In April 2022, Smart Works launched a new Three-Year Plan that will see the charity double the number of women helped annually from 5,000 to 10,000 women a year.

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