Smart Works Birmingham, a charity that exists to empower all women who need help getting into work, is pleased to announce that Alison Armstrong is to become the new Chair of the Board of Trustees. She takes over in February from the existing Chairwoman Philippa Pickavance, who in stepping down as she comes to the end of her second term, having been 6 years in post.

Alison is an experienced businesswoman and retired Architect who has worked in Birmingham and across the Midlands for many years and is also a Director of a Brewery. She is a school Governor and has also been a Smart Works Birmingham Trustee for almost 2 years.

Philippa commented; ‘I am so happy to be passing over to Alison who will be excellent for this role. We have worked closely together since she joined our Board, so she already has embedded knowledge and understanding of how the Charity operates and has been responsible for helping to spearhead important grant funding applications in her time as Trustee. She is very well placed to continue to expand the charity, with the aim of helping 1,200 women a year by 2025.’

Philippa continued; ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed being Chairwoman of this brilliantly simple, but very effective charity and seeing the real difference our service makes to women in need across the Midlands. Giving someone the confidence to present well at an interview by supplying job appropriate clothes, theirs to keep and one to one interview-coaching and hence helping them to win that job and gain financial independence is so rewarding. I am so proud of our staff and many volunteers who deliver our service, meaning that we currently see 75% of women get a job within one month of seeing us.’

Smart Works Birmingham is also pleased to announce the appointment of Raynee De Zoysa, to the newly created role of Vice Chair. Raynee is a Midlands based Engineer and School Governor and will support Alison and the Board in their growth plans.

Alison Armstrong said; ‘The simplicity of purpose of Smart Works, and the positive transformational impact for women and their families is what first attracted me to the charity two years ago. I’m excited to be responsible, with the dedicated support of the Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, invaluable centre staff and fabulous volunteers, and the Smart Works Charity Group, to take Smart Works Birmingham on its next stage of growth and development, to help more women in need into positive economic activity in the West Midlands region.’

Kate Stephens, CEO of Smart Works Charity, the group charity of Smart Works Birmingham, said: ‘We are so pleased to welcome Alison and Raynee to their roles, and can’t thank Philippa enough for her work over the last six years. Philippa has played a key part in expanding the Smart Works Birmingham service, allowing us to help even more women in need. It has been a privilege to witness how her passion and commitment to the Smart Works mission has seen Smart Works Birmingham flourish. We will miss her enormously.”