Smart Move for Birmingham Smart Works

Smart Works Birmingham, a charity that supports women back into work in the region through dressing and interview coaching services, has had a very busy summer with new trustees joining the Board and a relocation to Birmingham city centre, making it easier for clients to access their services.

The organisation, which is UK wide, initially set up their Birmingham Centre in Northfield in 2016. However, with a group of new Trustees headed by Philippa Pickavance of Philippa Pickavance Real Estate as Chairwomen, joining the board in June 2018, it was decided that a city centre location was a priority for the charities future success and expansion.

The new centre is within the long established, Birmingham Voluntary Service Council building, (BVSC Building) a centre of voluntary action that is home to a number of other charities on Digbeth high street and just a few step from Selfridges and The Bull Ring.

Philippa Pickavance commented; “I am very excited about joining Smart Works and working with the existing and new Trustees and huge team of volunteers whose support makes the work of our staff possible and our aims achievable.  Our main priority is to help more women back into work year on year and to guide Smart Works Birmingham through our next growth phase.”

She continued; “I am delighted that two of my good business friends have also joined as new Trustees: Jilly Cosgrove of Barques Design and Victoria Camfield a Partner at solicitors Squire Patton Boggs, who is also Company Secretary. Their skills will add to the existing talented Board members and together we are now well placed to achieve the fundraising we need so that the staff and volunteers can provide our services.”

Smart Works Birmingham had very generous free assistance from some high-profile partners including Harrow Green, Overbury, RPS and Ted Baker who all came together to help with furniture, decorating and transporting over a hundred boxes of clothing and rails across town.

Whilst Birmingham continues to flourish as a city it still has high levels of female unemployment, so there is great potential for Smart Works to help more women back into work. Since moving address, Ann Powell the centre manager said; “I am so pleased to report the team have had a 72% success rate with women getting jobs, highlighting how much this accessible new location is already making a difference”.

The charity focus is a simple but effective one; it gives women a complete job interview appropriate outfit and accessories (theirs to keep) and provides one-to-one interview preparation training so they feel more confident and start believing in their own ability to succeed. The two hours clients spend at Smart Works can be transformative.

Apart from one full-time centre manager, all of Smart Works service delivery is provided by a team of highly skilled, fully-trained volunteers and all stock is donated new and direct from the charities retail partners such as Hobbs, Whistles and Evans plus from other working women.