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Location: Reading
Date: February 18, 2022
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Sarah Burns MBE, founder and chair of the board of trustees for Smart Works Reading, will be stepping down from her current role at the charity in June 2022. As the founder of the charity in 2015, she feels now is the right time to pass on overall oversight of Smart Works Reading to a new chair and explore new ventures herself.

Smart Works charity overall is embarking on a new national 3-year plan to expand the charity’s reach in the UK. The new chair will be able to focus on the next stage of Smart Works Reading’s growth, and help even more women back into the workplace.

Sarah will remain actively involved in the charity and will become the Smart Works Reading founder ambassador, joining existing ambassadors Ginnie Chadwick-Healey, Emma-Jane Taylor and Nayna McIntosh in supporting Smart Works activity in her local area.
Sarah’s passion for Smart Works began as an interview coach, dressing and wardrobe volunteer at Smart Works in London, where she saw first-hand the life changing impact of the service. Driven by the vision of helping women in her local area, Sarah has led Smart Works Reading to become a sustainable, stable, and innovative charity.

“I’m extremely proud of everything we’ve achieved at Smart Works Reading,” said Sarah. “We’ve created a successful, sustainable charity that has helped hundreds of women back into the workforce through the provision of work-ready clothing and interview coaching to help to build their confidence.

“It’s been an amazing journey for me. I am immensely proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with wonderful and inspirational people at every step – including our lovely staff, fantastic volunteers, referral partners, army of supporters and board of trustees. Winning the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was the icing on the cake for me – truly a great recognition of the amazing work our volunteer team does every day.

“I’m looking forward to taking up my new role as founder ambassador and continuing to share my passion for the transformation service we provide in our community. New leadership will be able to take the charity forwards in the next stage of its growth.”

Claire Murdoch, Vice Chair of Smart Works Reading, commented: “Everyone who has met Sarah knows her as a passionate supporter of Smart Works’ mission. She has driven the success of Smart Works Reading from day one and, while everyone involved with the charity is sad to see her step down as chair, we’re delighted that she will continue to be engaged with our work. On behalf of all Smart Works Reading’s volunteers, supporters, and staff, thank you for everything you have already done, and will continue to do in the future.”

Smart Works Reading was founded in 2015, with the mission of helping women in local communities get back into work via the provision of interview coaching, work-ready clothing and employment advice to boost confidence. In 6 years we’ve helped over 1500 women, of which over 60% have gone on to gain employment.

The Smart Works Reading board will be recruiting a new chair over the coming months and an announcement will be made in due course. If you are interested to hear more about the role, please contact eme.dean-lewis@smartworks.org.uk.

More information about volunteering at Smart Works Reading can be found here.