Ellen O’Doherty, from the LSE Department of Statistics, did a summer internship with insurance company Aon. During her internship she was introduced to one of our charity partners, Smart Works! Read on to find out how she raised over the target money and why she decided to keep volunteering with them.

Smart Works is a charity that provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need. They harness the power of clothes and confidence to allow a woman to be her best at a crucial moment in her life, giving her the confidence, the self-belief and the practical tools required to succeed at interview and transform her life. Women are referred to Smart Works from organisations such as job centres, work programmes, prisons, care homes, homeless shelters and mental health charities. At the heart of Smart Works sits a two hour dressing and coaching service for unemployed women with confirmed job interviews.

I started volunteering with Smart Works during a summer internship I did in 2017 with Aon. During the internship I was given a corporate social responsibility project which involved working with Smart Works. The project was to raise £2000 and carry out a clothes collection within six weeks. Once I met the head of the Smart Works, I instantly loved what they did for women and wanted to get involved as much as possible.

I worked with my colleagues to come up with an inventive way to raise the £2000. I carried out a bake sale in the office and my colleagues and we decided to walk the 60km Jubilee Greenway in one day. This walk took us 9 hours and 57 minutes. We also came up with the idea that when people sponsored us they could guess our time and if they got it right they would win a prize. I thought this walk was a brilliant idea since it was a substantial distance this really got people talking about the walk and Smart Works. My colleagues and I managed to raise £3500 for Smart Works which we were really happy with. During the internship, I was in constant contact with Smart Works and I decided that once the six weeks were over I wanted to keep volunteering with them.

Once university term started I volunteered with Smart Works once every two weeks in their offices in North London, helping to organise the book-work and clothes stock checking. By volunteering in their offices I got to see some of the women that Smart Works work with and got to see how happy they were after their dressing and coaching session. One of the beneficiaries said “I feel empowered. I didn’t know it was going to be like this. It’s life changing.”

Overall my experience with Smart Works was brilliant. I believe they are changing women’s lives by empowering the women that they work with to feel confident and professional. Smart Works has inspired me and has even helped me with my own confidence.




If Ellen has inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities that will return for Michaelmas Term 2019, organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. And why not follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.