This April we took 5 young women from our Street Elite Lambeth Intervention to Smart Works. Smart Works is a two hour dressing and coaching service for unemployed women with confirmed job interviews.
Each client has a personalised styling session with two Smart Works volunteer stylists, receiving a complete outfit of high quality clothes and accessories for their specific job interview, which are free and theirs to keep. They make sure that all of their clients look fabulous, feel confident and have everything they need, from a winter coat to a pair of tights.
After their dressing, each client receives a one-to-one interview preparation and coaching session with an experienced HR professional or senior manager. The interview session focuses on increasing the awareness of her own strengths, answering questions effectively and understanding what is expected of her at interview.
Once a client is successful at interview, they are welcomed back for a Second Dressing to receive five additional pieces of clothing. This means that they can start their new role with a capsule working wardrobe which will see them through until their first pay cheque.
As we know, having the correct working attire can actually be a real barrier for unemployed young people, particularly when disposable income is an issue. This can also breed confidence issues which can then lead on to something far deeper and something that we are really looking to avoid. The young woman we work with have all reported reduced self-confidence since pregnancy, so something we have been really working hard on is redeveloping their sense of self. As we know, when you 'look the part' you often 'feel the part' so this exercise has been incredibly important in helping to change the mind set of our young women and get them to think positively about themselves and their potential.
Henry Glynn, The Change Foundation