Monday, 17 January 2022

Charity’s approach works...

Charity’s approach works...

Smart Works
Festival Hub

LONG-TERM unemployment, illness, divorce, redundancy — these are all things that can severely knock a woman’s confidence when it comes to
re-entering the job market.

Smart Works Reading is an incredible charity set up to help these women succeed, by providing styling advice, a professional work outfit and coaching sessions to help them shine.

It’s fitting that the charity is run by women, and you can tell how proud they are of the work they do — with good reason. Their success rate is inspiring.

Sarah Burns, the chair of Smart Works Reading, kicked the evening off by highlighting how more than 60 per cent of the 350 women they see each year go on to get the job they want.

There are also many other ambassadors and supporters behind the scenes — Friday night’s event was sponsored by Field Seymour Parks LLP and Antonia Taylor PR, for example.

So it’s no wonder that the atmosphere was buzzy, friendly and fun, with canapes, drinks and a raffle, and everyone donating a lipstick for Smart Works’ clients instead of paying a ticket price.

The highlight of the evening was a panel discussion comprised of four knowledgeable and sparky women who have all founded their own companies.

Three are involved in the fashion industry (Nayna McIntosh, Lape Adejuwon and Louisa Parris) and one in holistic confidence coaching (Sally Beaton).

Listening to them frankly discuss their own personal journeys, outline their highs and lows, and generously share tips for success was a treat — as was listening to the wickedly sharp and funny compere Toni Kent.

Her hilarious “Bin of Shame” poem had the packed audience in fits of giggles, and I think we’d all like to know what happened the day her morning started with flinging a pheasant out the window.

This event was the first in a series to launch the charity’s The Little Blue Book, which is full of advice from a range of inspirational women for living life confidently and courageously. It raised almost £800.

Smart Works is certainly an amazing charity to support. You can find out more, as well as how to donate time, money or clothes, at

Adele Hawkes

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