Open a Smart Works in 2018

It is our mission to bring the Smart Works service to new areas of the UK, and we are currently accepting applications from entrepreneurial, inspiring, dynamic individuals who have the skill, passion and drive to bring our service to their home city.

In the last three years, we have taken our service from one centre in London to six centres across the UK, and are now helping women in Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Reading. We are incredibly proud that in each location, over one in two of the women we help go on to get the job.

But we know there is still more to do.  We have identified a need in the North East, Yorkshire and the South West, particularly the cities of Newcastle, Leeds and Bristol.  We particularly want to hear from you if you are based in or around one of those cities.

We would like anyone interested to complete an application form by Friday 8 September, with the aim of opening our newest Smart Works centre in Spring 2018.

“Smart Works is an inspiration, and developing the project has been challenging but rewarding work – from finding a building, to  sourcing stock and recruiting volunteers, the days are never the same.

However you are not on your own. From my initial meetings with Smart Works HQ, I was welcomed in to the Smart Works family, and they are always on the end of the phone for advice and support. Working amongst other professionals who put positive outcomes for women at the heart of everything they do is truly inspiring.”

Founding Chair Smart Works Birmingham

How would it work?

Each Smart Works centre is run by a volunteer board of trustees, who have the regional connections, knowledge and insight to make the service work in their city.  The Trustees, led by the Chair, are responsible for their own operations and fundraising, but are part of the wider Smart Works family, an inspirational group of people brought together by a desire to help women succeed.

Our HQ in London acts as the umbrella organisation, and supports each regional centre with the dedicated support, advice and hands on help they need.   We help teach the key aspects of our core service to our new centres: volunteer training and development; stock management and quality; referral partnerships and growth; fundraising expertise.  We also provide the infrastructure and brand to help the service prosper.

In the first year, we also help with seed funding to allow more time to focus on establishing the service and building fundraising expertise.

What kind of people are we looking for?

We want dynamic, entrepreneurial and inspiring individuals with a desire to bring our service to their home city.

You will relish the challenge of running what is effectively a start-up charity, and expect to be involved in the day to day operations as well as fundraising and profile building in your area.  You may have a background in the charity sector; you may have experience in fashion; you may work in the private sector and relish a new challenge; or you may be none of these things.  There is no typical Smart Works person.  Instead we are committed to helping women, and insist on a collaborative approach, learning from each other to help deliver the services uniquely provided by this charity.

Our experience has also shown that when setting up a Smart Works, it is important to have a “running mate” – a colleague, friend or other contact that you can work together with. Working as a small group of two or three will help share the work and give you an invaluable sounding board.

You must also have time.  It is likely this will take up several hours a week, more at certain times, and it is important that this is manageable.

What would I get out of it?

If you have the vision, time and passion to run a Smart Works, we cannot promise that it will be easy, but we can promise it will be the most fulfilling decision you make.

Above all, we are passionate about the service we deliver.  Every day, we are able to harness the power of clothes and confidence to help a woman at a tipping point in her life as she faces a job interview.  Half of our clients are long term unemployed and have been rejected from a large number of job applications.  And yet over one in two go on to get a job within a month of their visit to Smart Works.  Helping a woman back into the workplace will change the trajectory of her and her family’s life.

Being part of this moment is a huge privilege, a source of quiet inspiration and, as any Smart Works volunteer will tell you, great fun.

It is also a constant learning experience.  Whether it is meeting a potential corporate supporter, putting on a fashion show, meeting an inspirational new volunteer, building relations with the local Job Centre or helping sort a donation from one of our amazing retail partners, no day is ever the same, and no day is ever dull.

Sounds good, what should I do next?

Please send an email to introduce yourself to Laura DalbyUK Head of Regional Development, who will contact you with full details and an application form.

What will happen then?

After considering the opportunity, and no doubt seeking advice from those who will support you along the way, complete the application form and send it in to us.  We are here to speak to you and advise along the way.

The deadline for completed applications is Friday 8 September.  Successful applicants will be invited to meet the Smart Works Charity Board in early October, with the aim of confirming a new bidder by 31 October 2017.   We will then work closely with the successful bidder with the aim of opening the doors of a new Smart Works centre in Spring 2018.

Is there anything else I should be aware of?

Smart Works is volunteer-led charity, and the founders of the new regional centres will take on a Trustee role in the new organisation.  These roles do not receive any financial remuneration.    

I’m interested, but not from one of those cities.  What should I do?

We would still love to hear from you.  If you believe you have the passion, skill and time to bring Smart Works to your home city, then we will always have the time to speak with you.  Please do get in touch.

“Bringing Smart Works to Manchester has been quite an experience.  I’ve had to wear many different hats – from chief fundraiser, communications director, ambassador, to answering the phone, taking bookings, dressing clients and steaming clothes.  It has been incredibly hard work, but also great fun made worthwhile through moments of pure inspiration and joy when we see our clients succeed.”

Do you want to bring Smart Works to your home city?

Get in touch and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.