Victoria Camfield, a Partner in our Real Estate team, is a proud Trustee of charity Smart Works, which provides a dressing and coaching service for unemployed women. We spoke to Vicky to find out more about the charity and her involvement.
Smart Works was set up in 2013, with a desire to help women who face economic hardship and discrimination to be the best version of themselves at a crucial moment in their lives.
The charity is centred around women in need, who are referred through partner organisations and charities including job centres, mental health charities, the prison service, women’s refuges and homeless shelters, all of whom are helping to support individuals on their way to employment.
Smart Works provides clients who have a job interview with a dressing and coaching service. The service begins with a consultation in order to find a high-quality interview outfit. This is free of charge and the clothes are theirs to keep. Clients then receive a one-to-one coaching session with an interview coach, designed to support them with the confidence and skills needed to approach the job interview.
The success rate is enormous, with 62 per cent of women supported by Smart Works securing a position. And if they are successful in the interview, Smart Works provides them with a capsule wardrobe ready for their new role.
Vicky says: “I was looking for something to get involved with on a voluntary basis having previously spent some time as a school governor. I discovered the Smart Works Birmingham centre had been through a period of change and needed some support in order to improve its fundraising.
I joined the board three years ago and in that time I have helped Smart Works Birmingham by providing legal advice, acting as a safeguarding officer, supporting teams who provide HR and payroll, and helped to develop the strategic direction for the centre. The statistics for the Midlands show a very real need and our main goal is to reach as many women in need of our service and in as many diverse communities as we can.”
Smart Works currently operates from eight regional centres in London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Reading. In just eight years, the charity has worked with over 20,000 women across the UK, helping 12,400 unemployed women get back into the workplace. As a result of the pandemic, the charity pivoted to launch a virtual service offering online interview coaching and a virtual dressing consultation, with a bespoke parcel of workwear items delivered by post.
The clothes are donated by private individuals, or by retailers and big brands who send previous unused stock.
Vicky says: “I am so proud to be involved with Smart Works. The concept seems so simple – transforming women’s confidence through the power of clothes and coaching – but the impact is enormous, and we really are changing people’s futures. I am passionate about being able to help women at such a pivotal moment in their lives.”
To find out more about Smart Works and how you can support them, visit smartworks.org.uk.