Two Thames Valley voluntary sector organisations have joined forces to help prepare candidates interviewing for rewarding social care roles. Smart Works Reading is providing remote interview coaching, either on the phone or by video conference, to candidates from Autism at Kingwood to help them secure new positions.

Autism at Kingwood helps people with autism and Asperger Syndrome to live the lives they choose. It provides highly skilled support across Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire, delivering person-centred services and finding solutions for complex and challenging situations. Smart Works Reading addresses a root cause of poverty by supporting women in need into employment.

Potential surge in social care interview candidates

The two organisations have come together to support social care recruitment. Social care organisations are experiencing a surge in responses to job vacancies as individuals’ circumstances are impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Working together, Smart Works and Autism at Kingwood are working to recruit and advise the best interview candidates, some of whom may have not previously applied for a care sector role.

All Autism at Kingwood interview candidates are now given a letter signposting them to Smart Works Reading if they are female, or an equivalent service run by social enterprise Mapis if they are male. Smart Works Reading then supports each individual client to identify their transferable skills, build their confidence and understand how to communicate their strengths during the interview process.

Free interview advice for women applying for all roles

Smart Works Reading’s service is free and is open to any woman from the Thames Valley with a confirmed interview. The charity is also reaching out to other employers who are currently recruiting, including in the IT and retail sectors, to promote this new adapted service.

Here to help women succeed in new industry interviews

Sarah Burns MBE, Chair of Smart Works Reading says. “Now, more than ever, is the time to collaborate with other charities to help as many people as possible. We know that there is increased recruitment demand in the care sector, and where we can help is by preparing the women who are applying for these roles with the interview support they need to get the job.

“Our free online and telephone interview advice service is open to any woman in the Thames Valley for any role. We will reopen with our full, face-to-face dressing and interview coaching consultations once lockdown has ended. In the meantime, we are looking forward to working with Autism at Kingwood, and more organisations to come, to help women succeed in new interview scenarios and industry roles.”

“Proud to support this initiative”

Dame Stephanie Shirley CH says “I am so pleased to hear about the collaboration between Smart Works Reading and the charity I founded, Autism at Kingwood.  Getting women into work and helping women realise their expertise and skills is something I am passionate about.  Kingwood has vacancies for support workers, a job that I value so highly – support workers were a lifeline for my autistic son Giles.

“It is good that Smart Works Reading will help applicants with interview skills as well as a new interview outfit.  Smart Works Reading and Autism at Kingwood are proactively addressing barriers to work for women and I am proud to support this initiative.”

Autism at Kingwood Chief Executive Kate Allen adds: “Our ability to provide services to over 300 autistic adults across the Thames Valley is dependent on us recruiting kind and compassionate autism support workers. Enabling Smart Works Reading to access and support potential new employees through the often unfamiliar process of interview and selection is such a worthwhile venture; for the applicant and both charities”

“The energy that the Smart Works Reading team has for assisting and supporting people through the recruitment process and back into work is continued when the baton is passed to Autism at Kingwood to then provide a rewarding career in social care.”

Women in the Thames Valley who would like free interview coaching can contact Smart Works Reading on 01189 594245, email [email protected]

Autism at Kingwood have vacancies in Reading and throughout the Thames Valley. Please contact [email protected] to find out more or go to