You can now make a referral to Smart Works using an online form

Making a referral is simple and hassle-free. With our new online form, referring to Smart Works is now quicker than ever, taking only a few minutes to complete.

Within one working day, Smart Works will reach out to the woman you have referred, ensuring that she receives the necessary support at a crucial time.

Make a referral
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Location: Birmingham
Date: January 8, 2020
Business community raises thousands of pounds at Smart Works Birmingham charity lunch image

Just over £5000 has been raised for Smart Works Birmingham, a charity that provides high-quality work clothes and interview training to help women in need back into work.

A fundraising lunch saw 130 people from across the West Midlands business community come together to hear guest speaker Isabel Spearman OBE, the brand and image consultant and former special adviser to Samantha Cameron, who is also an ambassador for the charity.

Isabel, who is also on the board of Jigsaw, was in conversation with the charity’s Birmingham Chairwoman and Trustee, Philippa Pickavance at the lunch, which was held at Opus Restaurant.

Philippa said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had this year and arranged this second lunch by popular demand. We’re grateful to Harris Lamb and the Wilkes Partnership for their generous sponsorship, which enabled us to keep our costs down and maximise the amounts raised.

“Like all charities, we rely hugely on volunteers, and we are fortunate to attract exceptionally talented women who want to help other women back into work. We’ll be organising more fundraising events in 2020 to complement out grant application elements of funding.”

The money raised will be used to run the small centre in Digbeth, which pays just two members of staff. It relies on more than 40 trained volunteers to deliver the service, while retail partners and individuals donate all clothing and accessories.

Since Smart Works, whose patron is the Duchess of Sussex, was founded in London six years ago, it has helped more than 16,000 women across the UK.

Smart Works Birmingham was established in 2016 and is now based at the BVSC Building, Digbeth, close to Selfridges. Since its launch, it has helped more than 1000 local unemployed women in need, by providing one-to-one interview preparation skills and confidence building, as well as free outfits for interviews, plus additional free clothing if they are offered and accept a job.

Smart Works’ clients must come via referral partners, such as JobCentre Plus, other charities and homeless shelters. Many women who are referred have completed many unsuccessful job applications before they get to Smart Works.

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Location: Birmingham
Date: September 30, 2019
Smart Works Birmingham enjoys record August image

Smart Works Birmingham has enjoyed its busiest month yet since setting up the Birmingham centre three years ago.

A total of 84 women were supported by the charity in August alone, up 58 on the same month last year and up 48 from the previous month.

Philippa Pickavance, chairwoman of the Trustees of Smart Works Birmingham, said: “We are delighted that August was such a successful month for us. Our volunteers provide a first-class service that is really empowering women, and our success rate, which sees 69% of our clients being offered employment within a month of their appointment here, is testament to their excellent work.

“They pulled out all the stops to accommodate the increased interest in our service in August and credit also goes to our only members of staff, managers Jo and Ann, for co-ordinating our service so well.”

The record month at Smart Works Birmingham was confirmed just a week after HRH The Duchess of Sussex, launched ‘The Smart Set’, a capsule collection of key essentials, including jacket and trousers, from Jigsaw, dress from M&S, bag from John Lewis and Partners and a white shirt from designer Misha Nonoo.

Since Smart Works was founded in London six years ago it has helped more than 15,000 women across the UK.

Pictured: Philippa Pickavance in her Misha Nonoo shirt.


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Location: Birmingham
Date: May 1, 2019
BCO support Smart Works Birmingham at their Regional Awards lunch image

We were delighted to be selected by Birmingham’s regional branch of the British Council for Offices as their chosen charity for their raffle.  A fantastic amount of £4,270 was raised for Smart Works Birmingham.  We are also thankful to all companies who supplied the raffle prizes that helped raise these funds – Edgbaston Golf Club, Marks Sattin and Philippa Pickavance Real Estate.  Thanks to all those who attended the event and gave so generously.

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Location: Birmingham
Date: January 4, 2019
Jane Shepherdson CBE Guest Speaker at Charity Lunch image

We are delighted to announce that Jane Shepherdson CBE will join us as our Guest Speaker at the Smart Works Charity Lunch on the 6th Feb at Opus Restaurant, 54 Cornwall Street, Birmingham B3 2DE which is totally sold out.

Jane is one of our Patrons and is a leading figure in fashion retail having been CEO of Whistles and before that Brand Director of Topshop.

All proceeds from the event will benefit our charity in our mission to ‘help women back into work’.

We look forward to welcoming everyone and would like to thank Overbury and Lambert Smith Hampton for kindly sponsoring the drinks reception.

If you would like to make a donation please visit

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Location: Birmingham
Date: November 25, 2018
Second Anniversary Celebrations image

Smart Works Birmingham celebrated its second birthday in central Birmingham last week.

Held at Opus Restaurant and sponsored by LoveBrum, Smart Works celebrated with over 80 professionals, keen to learn more and find out how to get involved.  The event allowed the charity to widen their network and awareness within the corporate world, thus increasing chances of helping more and more women thanks to generous donations of both time, clothes and money.

Philippa Pickavance, Chairwoman and Trustee of Smart Works Birmingham, and Kate Stephens, CEO of Smart Works headquarters, based in London, highlighted the effective work the charity has done in the region, as well as nationwide.

The organisation initially set up in Northfield, Birmingham in 2015 and relocated to a more central location in Digbeth this summer. Through coaching and styling services, the Birmingham branch of the charity has helped around 600 women to date. Nationally the charity has seen 15,000 women since it was established 5 years ago and has a 62% success rate on average of a client getting their job following the help given by the charity.

Manager Ann Powell and the 50 volunteers who deliver the service are working hard to reach more women from across the region by increasing awareness with job centres and other charities that refer their clients.

Philippa Pickavance said: “We are in a great position to move forward in our new location just below Selfridges, but as well as the volunteer help and clothes donations, much of which we get new from retailers, we now need to focus on raising more money to sustain the running of the service centre. We look forward to building on the last two years efforts and helping more and more women to realise and achieve their potential.”

All of Smart Works service delivery is provided by a team of highly skilled, fully-trained volunteers and all stock is donated through other professional, working women or comes direct from the charities retail partners such as Hobbs, Whistles and Evans.

Any one interested in making Smart Works Birmingham their charity this year should contact Philippa Pickavance via the manager Ann Powell. Ann should also be contacted to make donations and volunteer applications.

Ann Powell, Manager of Smart Works Birmingham,, 0121 643 8109

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Location: Birmingham
Date: September 3, 2018
Smart Move for Birmingham Smart Works image

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.

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Location: Birmingham
Date: August 1, 2018
New City Centre Premise for Smart Works Birmingham image

In July Smart Works successfully relocated to new premises in Birmingham City Centre.

This move has ‘ticked’ so many boxes in so many ways.  We are now centrally located so that our clients can easily access our services.

We have more space to display all our outfits and accessories.

We have a great training room and are conveniently all on one floor.

An additional bonus is that we are also surrounded by other charities and the Princes Trust, who we are able to engage with.

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Location: Birmingham
Date: January 26, 2018
Women and Leadership Fundraiser image

Our supporters Scoutess Recruitment Consultancy held a charity fundraiser event for Smart Works on the 24th January. Talking women and leadership, the event, held in Leicester, was focussed on discussion from a panel of senior female business leaders, which included Patricia John, Customer Service Director at Arriva Bus, Andrea Gray, Operations Director at Hastings Direct and Sarah Coop, Human Resources Director at Flogas.

It’s a career must-have to network, for any aspiring women”, said Karen Orton, Recruitment Director for Scoutess, who specialise in placing junior, middle and senior manager into the commercial and hospitality sector.  “We know that career paths are unclear and that we need to go out and seek the skills we need for the next role as women, which is why having a network that offers insights, thoughts and an opportunity to meet senior peers is important”.

The evening was about highlighting the challenges women face at work, whether that be returning, starting or advancing”, said Karen. “We had a mixture of ladies who attended, with varying viewpoints, one thing that did stand out is that we need to do more to help each other. I am passionate about helping women in business, which is why I am dedicated to supporting the wonderful work carried out by Smart Works. It’s evident from our discussions on the night that confidence and self-belief is what holds many women back, so for me, it’s about doing something that helps tackle that.”

The evening also saw the introduction of a Mentoring Connections Programme, that Scoutess have put together. “I’ve been lucky that I have been able to help many women get a job, however, I know we can do more to help women advance once they have found one” said Karen. “My background was originally training and development, so putting a programme together that enables women to help each other by providing support, advice and guidance, is a real passion for me. The programme is being supported by a team of business women, who are doing this on a voluntary basis to help a woman advance locally”.

The main purpose of the evening was to continue to fundraise and support Smart Works, which was achieved.

Having a purpose and using that to channel our passion and efforts, is what’s important to many women”, said Karen. “Our values at Scoutess are driven from our purpose, so being able to provoke action and make a real difference to women who need it, is at our core”.

Thank you to Scoutess for continuing to support Smart Works and to Hastings Direct for hosting this event.

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Location: Birmingham
Date: November 20, 2017
Glitz and Glamour, helping women help women image

On Wednesday 1st November, Leicester saw its second gathering of a network of business women, all dedicated to helping women from low incomes return to work. The event which was in aid of Smart works was held at the glittering City Rooms in Leicester and supported by some of Leicester’s top businesses including including Hastings Direct, Mattioli Woods, BT, Next PLC, Arriva Bus, Tutti Rouge, along with local charities including Soft Arts.

Karen Orton, Director/BUSINESS OWNER  of Scoutess Consultancy, which specialises in recruiting across call centre, business support and hospitality sectors, started the network in the summer, with first event in June. “It has been wonderful to see the network grow as we gain support and look at how we can help women advance here in Leicester.  I know how lack of self belief can affect a woman at interview, as I’m recruiter, so to partner with a charity that offers coaching support, is great.

Scoutess Consultancy, hosted the event along with Tutti Rouge. Jessica Prebble, Creative Director said “I know the importance of feeling confident in what your wearing, as I see this every day in my role as Creative Director, and so I’m delighted to continue supporting this wonderful cause.”

The event was a great success.  With over 30 volunteers, helping to put on the fashion show,  models paraded down the glittering catwalk, courtesy of Next and ASOS. “We wanted to create a fashion show that showcased real women wearing stylish work wear. Work wear that is affordable, on trend and stylist, outfits that make women feel good about themselves, no matter what size they are, or what work they do”, said Karen Orton. “Our styling team were amazing, with many late nights going into putting the event together.”

The evening also had shopping, bra fittings and mini pamper sessions with more than 10 retailers getting involved, and helping to raise funds. Smart works talked through their service and how they are helping make a real difference to women, whilst Karen passionately about her reason for partnering with them, and how she is looking at launching a mentoring connection programme in Leicester. “I am committed to helping raise funds for Smart Works, whilst we also help aspiring women advance within their career here in Leicester. We are excited to be partnering with local businesses to host our future events, which includes a leadership event in January and a mentoring connection programme.”  The evening ended with Jesscia Prebble, thanking all the pop-ups which included Stella&Dot, Amelia Noir and Mine Jeweller and a special mention to Sarah Jackson, from My Fasionforecast, for her styling support.

Items including pamper session, handbags and champagne were raffled, donations from Yours Clothing, Tutti Rouge, Maiyango and Debenhams, all helped to make it a success.

The final event was the sale, with guests being able to buy the items from the fashion show, which was a real success.

Funds are being counted but it’s likely to break the £700 raised at the last event at Veenos’. “For us its about raising awareness so that the service can continue and grow, of which clothing donations are a huge part. We had many women donate clothes, whilst holding mini clothing drives at work, which is great. This means that we can also donate our remaining outfits to Smart Works, which we will be doing over the next few days.”

Huge thank you to Karen Orton, Jessica Prebble and everyone who was involved in hosting this event for Smart Works, including all the companies who donated, volunteers supporting on the night and those on the stalls.

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Location: Birmingham
Date: October 16, 2017
Scoutess Consultancy Fashion Show image

Following a hugely successful fundraiser with Scoutess Consultancy earlier this year, we are delighted to announce that we’ll be partnering with them again as they host a fundraising fashion show in aid of Smart Works.

Scoutess Consultancy, are co-hosting a fundraising Fashion Show event, with Tutti Rouge, on the 1st November, at the very beautiful City Rooms in Leicester. Karen Orton, Director/Owner of Scoutess Consultancy, a recruitment agency in Leicester, said “Our first event was a real success, with so much support gained from local businesses and female leaders, that we decided to do it again, but this time with added glitz and glamour.”

The evening starts at 6pm, with a pop-up shopping experience, which includes brands such as Rougette, Yours Clothing, WinorLoose, Sauce & Brown, Avon and Stella & Dot. There will be a Tutti Rouge booth, and mini pamper sessions, courtesy of Amelia Noir. All followed by a catwalk show in the beautiful glittering ballroom, with outfits donated from Next, ASOS and Smart Works.

“We have once again been amazed by the support we have gained for this event,” said Karen. “Our staging and lighting, which is so important to the feel of the night, has been donated by Jonathan and his team at AV Blaby. The City Rooms, have been very generous in helping us host this wonderful event, along with a whole team of volunteer make-up artists, hairdressers, models, and runners. We can’t wait to welcome our wonderful ladies to the event, where alongside all of the activity there is a great opportunity to network, learn more about the amazing Smart Works Charity, and become part of our network for women.”

To reserve your space at the event, please visit