On behalf of everyone at Smart Works, we would like to say a huge thank you to Philippa Pickavance, who has announced she is stepping down from her role as Chair of Smart Works Birmingham.

Philippa joined us in 2018 to lead our Birmingham Board, and has invested a huge amount of time, energy and passion into the growth of Smart Works Birmingham. In this time, the Birmingham team have helped over 2600 women on their journey to secure employment – we can’t thank Philippa enough for creating a positive, passionate, and caring environment for our clients, and her successful fundraising.

We are also delighted to announce that Alison Armstrong will be taking over as Chair of Smart Works Birmingham. Alison brings strong commercial experience, and is a retired Architect who has worked in Birmingham and across the Midlands for many years.

Alison will be joined by new Vice Chair, Raynee De Zoysa. Raynee is a Birmingham based Engineer and School Governor, and will support Alison and the Board in their growth plans. Together, Alison and Raynee will be leading our mission to help 1200 women in Birmingham per year by 2025.

Kate Stephens, Smart Works CEO, said: ‘We are so pleased to welcome Alison and Raynee to their roles, and can’t thank Philippa enough for her work over the last six years. Philippa has played a key part in expanding the Smart Works Birmingham service, allowing us to help even more women in need. It has been a privilege to witness how her passion and commitment to the Smart Works mission has seen Smart Works Birmingham flourish. We will miss her enormously.”

Philippa commented: ‘I am so happy to be handing over to Alison who will be excellent for this role. We have worked closely together since she joined our Board, so she already has embedded knowledge and understanding of how the Charity operates and has been responsible for helping to spearhead important grant funding applications in her time as Trustee. She is very well placed to continue to expand the charity, with the aim of helping 1,200 women a year by 2025.’

Philippa Continued: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed being Chair of this brilliantly simple, but very effective charity and seeing the real difference our service makes to women in need across the Midlands. Giving someone the confidence to present well at an interview by supplying job appropriate clothes, theirs to keep and one to one interview-coaching and hence helping them to win that job and gain financial independence is so rewarding. I am so proud of our staff and many volunteers who deliver our service, meaning that we currently see 75% of women get a job within one month of seeing us.’

Alison Armstrong said: ‘The simplicity of purpose of Smart Works, and the positive transformational impact for women and their families is what first attracted me to the charity two years ago. I’m excited to be responsible, with the dedicated support of the Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, invaluable centre staff and fabulous volunteers, and the Smart Works Charity Group, to take Smart Works Birmingham on its next stage of growth and development, to help more women in need into positive economic activity in the West Midlands region.’