Smart Works, a charity which provides a service to unemployed women by supporting them with skills and clothes to succeed in job interviews, opens in Newcastle shortly.

Recently I was involved with the launch event of Smart Works Newcastle , at Trinity House, Quayside, to coincide with International Women’s Day. Silk Family Law sponsored the event, and is offering me their ongoing support to enable me to dedicate time to this charity, as one of the co-founding trustees and its treasurer.  The event was a great success, so thanks to all who attended from a wide range of Newcastle businesses and organisations.

I am so excited to help bring the Smart Works service to the North East, where the rate of female unemployment is higher than the national average. If we support women to succeed in our region, the community as a whole feels the benefits.

As a family lawyer I regularly advise clients who, as a consequence of a separation, must consider returning to work, often following a lengthy period away from the work force.  I have seen first-hand how daunting a prospect this can be, even for those who have good resources and support to draw on. I am sure that anyone reading this will be able to readily recollect the feelings of nerves before a job interview.   Now consider the following situation: you have been out of work for some time; your confidence is low; you don’t have any suitable clothes to wear for the interview, or the money to buy them.  What do you do?

Smart Works provides a two hour dressing and interview preparation service for women who have been invited to attend a job interview after a period of unemployment.

In the dressing session, with the support and expertise of our volunteer stylists, each client is offered an excellent selection of high quality clothing to wear for their interview.  We make sure that our clients look great, feel comfortable in the clothes they have chosen, and that they have everything they need, from a coat and bag to a pair of tights.

Following the dressing session, our highly skilled volunteer interview coaches work one-to-one with each client in a compassionate and supportive way.  The interview session focuses on increasing the client’s awareness of her own strengths, answering questions effectively and understanding what is expected of them at interview. Our interview volunteers include managers, HR professionals or executive coaches.

This focused intervention, ahead of a job interview, can have a significant impact on our clients’ lives. The national success rate of Smart Works clients who go on to get the job is currently 60 per cent, which is fantastic.

When a Smart Works client gets a job, we want them to start their new role with a full working wardrobe. So clients can come back and see us for more clothing to see them through to their first payment of wages.

Our service launches at the end of April.  We are looking for support from corporates and individuals.  Smart Works employs only one paid member of staff. Its service relies upon its volunteers. If you can spare your time, we will be hosting volunteer recruitment training in April. We only need our volunteers to demonstrate empathy towards our clients, we don’t require them to have stylist credentials!

We also need work wear. If you can organise a collection from your place of work, please get in touch.

If you can help us in any other way, we would love to hear from you. For more information, please message me via LinkedIn  or view the Smart Works website

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