A smart way to empower women

8 Mar 2023
As an organisation dedicated to enabling better lives, Ingeus is passionate about helping women to succeed. Being made redundant, or taking a career break to raise a family, can really affect a woman’s self-confidence. Even the thought of a job interview can be overwhelming but with the right support, the sky’s the limit! That’s why we are so proud of our partnership with the charity Smart Works in Greater Manchester.

Women taking part in Ingeus’s employability programmes in the region are referred to Smart Works for ‘tailored’ support – quite literally! For as well as offering tips on interview technique and CV writing, Smart Works also provides free workwear and styling advice to help women dress to impress. Get the clothes, get the confidence, get the job – that’s the Smart Works way of thinking. 

The female employment charity exists to inspire and empower all women who need help getting into work. Nationally, the charity is planning to double the number of women it helps to 10,000 annually by 2025. As part of this target, Smart Works Greater Manchester is opening a second location in Manchester city centre at the end of April to complement its successful service based in Stockport, and its virtual appointment services. 
For women who have not yet secured a job interview, Smart Works offers career coaching to help build their confidence and get them ready to take the next step. Once they have an interview lined up, women can attend a one-to-one interview styling and coaching session with Smart Works. During this session they will receive a free, high-quality outfit, including shoes and accessories. They will also be given advice and tips on how to maximise their chances of success. If the interview leads to a job offer, participants are invited back to Smart Works for a second dressing appointment, in which they will receive additional items of clothing to build up a capsule wardrobe.

Jayne Garner, Ingeus Head of Integration for Greater Manchester, oversees the partnership. She says: “We’ve been working with Smart Works for years and have a great relationship with them. They are making a real, positive difference to our participants’ lives. 

“This wonderful charity gives unemployed women the confidence boost they need to get back into the world of work. Being well-presented at interview is a huge step towards success. Wearing a smart outfit is empowering because it enables you to make a good impression from the moment you enter the room. When you know you look the part, it improves your self-belief. Many of our participants have been able to get back to work thanks to the fabulous support they have received from Smart Works.”

An impressive 72 per cent of women who are supported by Smart Works go on to secure employment within just one month of their appointment with the charity. One Ingeus participant, Katy, was unemployed for five years before she was referred to Smart Works for an interview style and coaching session. Within a week of her appointment, she’d got a job! Katy described her time with Smart Works as a “very lovely and extremely helpful experience” and praised the “really friendly” staff.

Jan Iceton is Chair of the Board of Trustees for Smart Works Greater Manchester. She says: “Our relationship with Ingeus is very special to us here at Smart Works in Greater Manchester, in actual fact the Ingeus team were instrumental in helping us build the confidence we needed to commit to opening a second service, right in the city centre. 

“By the end of April when we open just across from Victoria station, and with the continued support and encouragement from Ingeus and other key referral partners, we will have the capacity to support, inspire and empower many thousands more unemployed women to succeed in their job search and at upcoming job interviews.”

Here at Ingeus, we couldn’t be more pleased with the success of the partnership and how it is changing women’s lives for the better. 

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