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Dressing for success with the help of Smart Works

Special Interest Programme / Partner story

© Smartworks

Smart Works is a volunteer-led UK charity that dresses, coaches and empowers unemployed women before their job interview. The Smart Works service works: 64 per cent of the women helped by Smart Works secure a job within a month, helping them to start a new chapter and transform their lives.

Each Smart Works client has a personalised styling session with a team of trained dressing volunteers and is gifted a complete outfit of high-quality clothes and accessories, which are free and hers to keep. This is followed by a one-to-one interview coaching session with an experienced HR professional or senior manager, focusing on increasing the client’s awareness of her own strengths, answering questions effectively and understanding what is expected of her at interview.

“I got the job, and I wore the outfit I was given, including a briefcase. It had a lovely message inside saying ‘Good luck, I hope you get the career you want.’ And I did,” says Selam, who came to Smart Works after having been unemployed for six months and after having applied for nearly 50 jobs. Being out of work had knocked her confidence, and she was lacking the self-belief she needed to succeed. “I had a fabulous experience at Smart Works,” she says. “Everyone is so kind and helpful, I felt so much more confident going to my interview.”

Smart Works reaches some of the most vulnerable women in society, including those referred to them by support organisations and charities, such as job centres, prisons, the care service, housing associations and women’s refuges. In the last six years, Smart Works has dressed and coached over 16,000 women from eight centres across the UK.

“The appointment made me feel motivated,” says Selam. “It’s kind of crazy how an outfit can change how you feel. I felt confident. I could get whatever I put my mind to.” The team – across all eight Smart Works centres – are united by a shared commitment to bring the very best quality service to each client, and continually collaborate and share best practice to achieve that.

Smart works falls under our Special Interest Programme. These grants reflect the Trustees’ interests in making dynamic, diverse, large, innovative and challenging grants. They cover a wide range of fields, including health, humanitarian relief, education and the arts. If you would like to learn more about the Special Interest Programme’s strategy click here.

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