2 June 2021
Reading West MP congratulates Smart Works Reading for Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has today congratulated local charity, Smart Works Reading, on receiving a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Smart Works Reading, which opened in October 2015 and covers the whole of Thames Valley, provides free work place clothing and styling advice, 1-2-1 interview coaching and confidence-building to help unemployed women prepare for job interviews. The charity is supported by a team of professional skilled volunteers who provide practical and non-judgemental advice to their clients, creating an environment that is welcoming, supportive and aspirational.

Smart Works Reading

Photo by Smart Works Reading volunteer, Steven Parker

Smart Works Reading helps over 350 women every year and just under half of these women are referred to the organisation by local job centres. Local charities and organisations, such as Elizabeth Fry, Reading Community Learning and Princes Trust, also refer clients.

Smart Works Reading have continued to support throughout lockdown, having successfully adapted their service to remote delivery, and have extended their offer to include career coaching for those clients at an earlier stage of their job search. 

Alok previously visited Smart Works Reading and through his visit, he was able to understand the great work the team does in supporting women on the journey to moving into the work force. Alok had the opportunity to meet both the brilliant staff and volunteers at Smart Works, as well as one of their clients who had just moved into employment. Smart Works has a wonderful team doing inspirational work in supporting female job seekers. Their high success rate of 65% getting back into employment also benefits the wider community by increasing financial stability, creating better family role models and increasing self-esteem.

In July 2020, Alok supported Smart Works Reading’s volunteer team’s nomination for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.

Alok said:

“The charity’s committed volunteers provide a unique contribution to so very many people, delivering a service which is individualised and focused entirely on the needs of their clients. I was honoured to be able to support Smart Works Reading’s volunteer team’s nomination for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services last year and therefore I am delighted to see that the volunteers have now been celebrated. Huge congratulations to Smart Works Reading!”

Sarah Smart MBE, Chair of Smart Works Reading said:

“We are thrilled and delighted that our volunteers have been recognised in this way. Our volunteers are the backbone of our service, an amazing group of professional, hand-working people who share their skills, expertise and passion to help so many disadvantaged women into employment. We are so grateful for Alok’s ongoing support and that of all our supporters.”