Mel – Making a difference as part of a fun and friendly team

Article date
8 October 2020
Primary interest

Mel (right) and Caroline (left) – Smart Works volunteers

The work of volunteers plays a vital role in making our town a unique and vibrant place. We are delighted to be sharing with you a collection of volunteering stories to highlight and celebrate some of the work done by charities and volunteers.

Mel is head of stock at Smart Works Reading. After hearing about the charity through a friend she decided this was exactly the sort of thing she wants to be involved in. Smart Works provides women with an appropriate outfit for a job interview and tailored interview coaching for anyone in need. Mel’s main job as head of stock is to manage all the clothes stock that comes in via donations and to maintain the wardrobe ensuring everything is clean and tidy. Smart Works Reading regularly run fundraising sales of clothes that have been donated but not suitable for interviews but still in excellent condition, the stock of which is managed by Mel. Mel describes one of her most memorable moments at the charity being when she, along with others, ran the second of these sales and they raised almost £5,000. 

Mel, who describes herself as coming from a privileged background, explains that she loves volunteering for Smart Works because it keeps her grounded and in touch with ‘the rest of the world’. She explains how the work she does is incredibly satisfying especially being part of such a fun and friendly team. Mel describes how volunteering at Smart Works has made her much more patient and calmer as she does not get wound up so easily. Volunteering in this role allows Mel to utilise her skill set and give something back to society really making a difference to so many women in Reading. Mel touches on how volunteering allows you to meet new people and is a great opportunity to socialise with other volunteers

The impact of COVID was detrimental for Smart Works who rely on a face to face service, for dressing and interview coaching. As with many charities, they quickly adapted by starting to conduct video interviews and posting clothes to clients. Mel has recently been heavily involved in making the office COVID safe so the office can reopen and deliver the dressings in person. With unemployment only set to rise in the future, the work that Smart Works does is only going to become more poignant in society.

Thank you Mel and Smart Works for all the incredible work you do.

Inspired by Mel’s story? Take a look at to find the role for you!