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Location: Reading
Date: October 14, 2020

Smart Works Reading celebrates our 5th anniversary this October as a successful employment support organisation for women in the Thames Valley.

Over past 5 years 66% of clients have got the job

Since we opened, 66% of Smart Works clients, or around 600 women, have gone on to get the job. Last year alone, we helped 283 women with our free interview dressing and coaching service.

We’ve still supporting during these uncertain times with Zoom dressing and coaching sessions, and clothing packages sent directly to clients’ homes.

Supporting women from all walks of life

Our clients are predominately women who are experiencing some type of disadvantage. Some have mental health issues or have experienced challenging, life-changing or traumatic events, including domestic abuse. Others are school and college leavers who need guidance as they embark on their careers or are women starting again in a new country. Around 30% are from a BAME background or are lone parents. All receive tailored, 1-2-1 advice and guidance.

The negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis will mean that some local women who were previously not disadvantaged may now fall into that category e.g. having become unemployed, bereaved or suffered from illness during the pandemic.

Supporters have helped us stay sustainable

Thanks to continuing support from our volunteers, corporate and referral partners, donors and other well-wishers, we are in a strong and ready position to meet increased demand as the economic effects of Coronavirus start to bite.

#give5for5 online fundraiser raises over £2,300

Our 5th anniversary #give5for5 online fundraiser has made over £2,300, and there’s still time to take part by posting a picture of your handbag and the five things you carry about and can’t live without on Instagram and Facebook.

“Every job is important”

Smart Works Reading Chair, Sarah Burns MBE, says: “In the last 5 years we have welcomed hundreds of clients from all walks of life and from all over the Thames Valley to our Reading centre.”

“I think so much of it comes back to confidence and self-belief. What we do is about allowing women to have a sense of hope and possibility for the future at a time when life might have been very difficult. We’ve helped them with the practicality of their clothes and coached them to increase the confidence needed to secure a job, transform their lives and provide better opportunities for them and their families.”

“Every job is important, every role is valid, and we’ve helped women, and clients who identify as women, enter industries as diverse as IT, social care, retail, science and the arts.

“What we do is simple and effective. Our goal is to unlock a woman’s confidence and self-belief, which is a magical thing to see. The right clothes really can help a woman feel like the best version of herself at a very important time in her life, and alongside the tools and skills she receives through coaching, we give her everything she needs to succeed at interview.

“It has been a pleasure and privilege to have worked with some many inspirational people, our clients, volunteers, supporters and staff.

“It’s a shame that, because of Covid-19 restrictions, we can’t get together to celebrate in person. But we’re asking people to comment on our 5th anniversary social media posts and share the Smart Works Reading message so that we can shout about our clients’ success and reach more women in need of our service.”

Help us to support more women into work

If you would like to donate to Smart Works Reading, please use the donation buttons on our Instagram or Facebook pages or contact Every pound donated goes towards helping our clients succeed at interview and transform their lives.