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Location: Reading
Date: July 12, 2021

Smart Works Reading is asking supporters to host a Summertime Social, a clothing donation drive and fundraising gathering, this July and August.

Social events are slowly returning, with many eager to meet up after so many postponed special moments with friends, family, and colleagues.

Smart Works Reading has continued to support disadvantaged women into work throughout the pandemic, but has been unable to host the high-profile social events that would normally help fund our important employment advice and dressing service.

Get together to support Smart Works Reading

The Summertime Socials campaign is an easy and accessible way for Smart Works Reading supporters to get together safely and enjoyably with friends and family, and also support our award-winning charity.

We’re asking people to host a small gathering at home, at work or at their favourite meeting place (social distance restrictions permitting). There is a suggested £10 donation to attend, and guests will be asked to bring along a new or nearly new item to donate to Smart Works Reading. This could be a handbag to take to an interview, a scarf to make a workwear outfit pop, or a piece of jewellery to give an extra boost of confidence. Guests can also swap other pre-loved items with each other and come away with a summer outfit that’s new to them.

The gatherings can be picnics in the park, afternoon teas in the garden, soirées at home or lunch breaks at work. Guests can enjoy everything from tapas to teacakes, coffee to cocktails and fruit juice to fizz. There are no limits to how to celebrate – we just want everyone to stay safe and have fun while supporting Smart Works Reading.

“Refresh your wardrobe, while helping others”

Sarah Burns MBE, Chair of Smart Works Reading, said. “We’ve been overwhelmed with clothing donation offers and we know how much people want to help our clients. Dressing women in high-quality, interview-ready outfits plays such an important part in building their confidence when looking for work.

“Like any charity, we have limited storage space and volunteer capacity when it comes to processing donations, and we never give clients anything that we wouldn’t wear ourselves. By attending a Summertime Social, our supporters can donate a carefully selected item that will complete a client outfit, while having the chance to swap pre-loved clothes with friends.

“It’s a fantastic, environmentally-friendly way to refresh your wardrobe, while helping others. A few nibbles, a splash of prosecco and some dancefloor favourites add to the fun, but your Summertime Social can be whatever you want it to be.”

Already signed up to host their own Summertime Socials are Smart Works Reading ambassadors Virginia (Ginnie) Chadwyck-Healy and Nayna McIntosh, founder of womenswear brand Hope.



“A great fundraiser for a wonderful charity”

Ginnie, founder of VCHStyle and a Telegraph fashion columnist says: “We all deserve a cup of coffee and the chance to meet up with friends again. Throw in some clothes-swapping, and donate some gems from all those wardrobe edits you did in lockdown…. and you’ve got a great fundraiser for a wonderful charity.”

More information on hosting a Summertime Social can be found in our Summertime Socials fundraising guide. You can also download a Summertime Socials invitation and poster.

A special thank you goes to The Ethical Branding Co. for creating our fantastic Summertime Socials branding pro bono.

Money raised will be used to support Smart Works Reading’s free employment and dressing services that help disadvantaged women from the Thames Valley into work.