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My work experience Aoife Madden

My work experience

by Aoife Madden


My name is Aoife Madden and I am a 15-year-old at Trinity Academy, as a 4th year student I am required to do a week of work experience which will help me gain new skills and hopefully give me a better idea of what I want to do as a career in the future.

I found out about smart works through a friend of a family who had just started volunteering there so I sent an email to Kasia, the manager, asking if I could to my work experience and she said it would be fine!  I thought it would be a great experience to learn about the ins and outs of a charity.  though it’s just my first day I can see that even though smart works seems like quite a small organization there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.

Day 1

I started off in the morning at 9.30am feeling slightly nervous but when I came in felt very welcomed by Kasia and comfortable.  I started off the day by reading through and filling out a couple of booklets to do with what I was going to be doing throughout the week, what my expectations where and what my career ideas for the future are.  In one of the booklets there was a quiz which- when I finished answering the questions- it told me what kind of person I was and what I could bring to the work place, it was quite accurate with only a couple of things I disagreed with.  After doing that we had a client come in and I watched how Kasia and the volunteers dealt with the process.

Once the client had left I took the opportunity to ask some of the volunteer’s questions about their careers and how they got to where they are now.  This was a great help for me as they all had a slightly different answer to each question and It gave me more confidence when thinking about my future.  I got some great advice from them also.

it’s only my first day at smart works but I can already see that even though it seems like quite a small organization there’s a lot going on behind the scenes including all the phone calls that must be made to organize donations, book in clients and communicate with different types of people.

Tomorrow I plan to walk in with full confidence and work hard to get all the experience I can get out of this is great opportunity.  Here are some pictures from around the office:


Day 2

When I first came in this morning I learnt how to set up the computer and I then sent an email the Smart Work lead manager in London to ask her to put up an invite to one of Smart Works events on the Smart Works website.  After that I answered a phone call from a referral agent which I then passed over to Kasia.  The referral agent had been referring over a client that had an interview coming up and needed an outfit and interview training.  I then, with the help of Kasia, added the new client to the database and added her appointment to the calendar.

Next, as preparation for Thursday, I started printing off some of the feedback quotes that Smart Works had received from previous clients.  These are going to be put up on a board alongside some before and after pictures of clients from their appointments.  All the feedback Smart Works had received from clients was so nice and inspiring.

Once I’d finished doing that I made two phone calls.  I was very nervous to do this at first but there were no problems and I managed to communicate everything I was supposed to.  Once that was done 3 volunteers arrived to organize the stock room.  I helped them and we ended up being down there for about 1-2 hours.  By the end the stock room was looking much tidier than before.

Tomorrow I am going to two presentations with Kasia, hopefully all will go well!




Day 3

To start of the day this morning I came in at 9.30 as per usual, it was quite quiet for a bit up until me and Kasia left to go to a meeting.  The meeting was to let another organization aware of Smart Works and what we do, Kasia did pretty much all the talking but at the end I added in a bit about how I had been finding my work placement at Smart Works and saying what a great experience it had been.  Everyone at the meeting all seemed interested so hopefully Smart Works will get some referrals from them.

Later, once we had come back to the office and had lunch we headed to our next presentation at Edinburgh College to give a presentation about Smart Works to some students interested in doing work experience.  Again, Kasia did most of the talking then I let them know how I had found my work placement so far.  We then showed them a video about Smart Works which I hadn’t seen before myself but it was really good representation of Smart Works.

Tomorrow Kasia isnt coming in to the office so I will be in the office by myself with one of the administration volunteers.   Frippy, the chair person of the organisation, will also be coming in to design the board which I prepared the client feedback quotes for with one of the volunteers tomorrow.  I am most probably going to help dressing a couple of the clients and even booking in a couple of clients.



Day 4

When I came in this morning it was just me and an administration volunteer so it was quite quiet.  I started up the computer as usual and looked at the calendar to see what was happening today.  I then got out my ‘look behind the scenes’ booklet which I had started on Wednesday and continued filling that out until some other volunteers arrived for our first client at 11.  This is when it got really busy.

The client then arrived at 11.30 and I introduced myself and went through to the dressing room/interview section of the office with the client and 2 of the other volunteers.  We had a quick chat with her about what kind of clothes she wanted and what job she was applying for.  Then me and the dressing volunteer went down to the stock room and starting picking out appropriate clothing.  When we came back upstairs with the range of clothing, she picked what she wanted to try on and went in to the dressing area to try them on.  When she came out again she was quite pleased with what she was wearing so didn’t have to try anything else on.  She then tried on different accessories with the outfit and decided on a set of earrings with a matching necklace and a scarf.  Me and the other dressing volunteer then left to her to get her interview training.

Once the client had left I got to sit down with the interview trainer myself and chat with her about interviews.  I found this very interesting and it helped a lot.

Tomorrow is going to be more quiet I think as we don’t have any clients booked in.  I hope to gain as much experience as possible though since it’s my final day.


Day 5 – Final day

It has been quite quiet today, since we haven’t had any clients booked in.  First thing when I came in this morning I updated Kasia on what had happened the day before when she was away and I went over with her how I’d felt it had gone for me personally and skills I felt I’d gained.

Later, Frippy came along to collect some clothes and speak with Kasia.  I helped her take the clothes from the stock room to her car for an event coming up where people will bid on the clothing and all the money goes to Smart Works.  After that I helped write up a report to do with the success rates of our clients, how many of our clients got back to us post appointment, how many 1st dressings there had been in the whole of October etc.  and then sent it on to Frippy.

While Frippy was here she told me about the Hobbs event coming up and invited me along so I am looking forward to going to that if I can as a sort of farewell to Smart Works.

I am now sitting writing this blog reflecting on how great an experience this has been and how I would definitely consider volunteering here in the future if I get the chance because I have really enjoyed being able to work with all these lovely people over the past week and I am very grateful for all the help they’ve provided.  Thanks to everyone at Smart Works!



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An Evening with Nikki Owen

 Nikki Owen.jpg

An Evening with Nikki Owen


How to ignite your heart so you discover your souls purpose


We are delighted to announce that Nikki Owen, Award Winning Speaker and bestselling author is delivering a 2 hour personal development talk in aid of Smart Works Edinburgh  (SC044520)


You are invited to an exclusive event where Nikki will share her own sensational story, that triggered a media frenzy in the late 1970s and explain how this catastrophic event set her onto a path of helping others to heal their emotional, physical and spiritual selves.


Thursday 24th November


5.30PM -8PM

The George Hotel, 19 George Street, EH2 2PB


You will be welcomed with a  glass of wine and canapés




‘Click here’

Tickets are £25.00


telephone 0131 516 7787

We are limited in numbers due to the venue size and the last event Nikki sold out in a couple of hours. So book now to avoid disappointment.


To learn more about Nikki Owen or to see what people are saying about her visit



“Ask your heart to fully and openly accept and embrace the you that you are because when you are being true to who you really are inside then you shine.”  

Nikki Owen FPSA Award Winning Speaker  on Charisma, Energy and Authentic Leadership


A limited number of copies of Nikki’s latest book ‘Charismatic to the Core’ will be available to purchase on the night . To secure your copy before the event please pre-order for just £10, by  messaging


FREE Gifts Each attendee will receive:

  • One of Nikki’s powerful Hypno-Mediations that works at a soul level
  • A crystal holding and spiritual blessing


During the evening youll discover:


  • The secret to transforming your life
  • Baggage what it really does to your soul
  • How your thoughts show up in your physical world
  • The quickest way to boost your energy
  • The Painting By Numbers approach to your life
  • Why negative emotions and traumas inspire you to live your life on purpose
  • Shouting at apples the shocking new theory to inner and outer beauty
  • Live demonstrations in the moment


Nikki has a reputation for her extraordinary sensory awareness and her ability to tune into your energy. At the end of her talk she is happy to spend a few minutes with five individuals to give feedback on what she notices about how past emotions are showing up in your energy and your physical body.


Life Changing

Don’t take our word for the impact Nikki can have on your life in just a few short hours. Here is a tiny selection of what others are saying about her:

It was an amazing session. Helen Garford

You really are an amazing woman who uses your rare talent to really help others.” Andrea Noble

Truly amazing and life changing. I feel so positive and excited at what now lays ahead. Sophie Cragg

Amazing thanks a million for the wonderful experience, Nikki. Marina (the artistic lady)

You are the most incredible person ever. I feel as though I have been  set free. Aran Blackbourne

STUPENDOUS. The most impressive speaker I have ever seen.” Miles Carroll

Nikki is a very special lady an angel in disguise.” Debbie Pierce

A fantastic experience on every level. Collette Stone

Wow!!!! I feel changed forever. You are amazing. Paula Cox

“The atmosphere was electric. No-one wanted to leave. Catherine Patel

I was blown away by your session. What an inspiration you are, so present, so real. Corah Clark




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swishingYou are invited to a


at Cardy Net House, Lower Largo.

In aid of



7pm on Wednesday 9th November Buying starts at 8.30pm

Here’s how it works

Come along to the Net House, Lower Largo and bring your friends.

Buy a ticket £12

Have a glass of wine and some cheese.

Browse the rails and snap up some fabulous clothes with a starting price of £2 We hope you will join us for a fun evening for girls of all ages

Tickets can be reserved from Liz Rolland [ e.mail – or or text – 07748337463

Tickets are also available at Jane’s Coffee and Gift Shop, Leven Road, Lundin Links

We are currently collecting clothes for the event. Please put aside any nearly new or good quality suitable items including shoes bags and accessories.

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We are Investors in Volunteers!

Volunteering for Smart Works Edinburgh is unique and extremely rewarding.

And now, we have the award to prove it!

IiV colourInvesting in Volunteers is the UK quality standard for all organisations which involve volunteers in their work. The standard enables organisations to comprehensively review their volunteer management, and also publicly demonstrates their commitment to volunteering.

Investing in Volunteers demonstrates our achievement measured against a rigorous national standard. Achieving the ‘Investing in Volunteers’ award benefits our organisation by enabling us to publicly demonstrate our commitment to volunteering and effective volunteer management. It helps us to:

  • Increasing our volunteers’ motivation and enhance their experience
  • Encourage more people to volunteer with us

If you would like to know more about volunteering with us, read this.

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Admin Volunteer

We are looking for a responsible Admin Volunteer to undertake a variety of administrative tasks in collaboration with or in absence of the Operations Manager.


ROLE TITLE : Admin Volunteer


LOCATION : Smart Works, Edinburgh


REPORTING TO : Operations Manager, Smart Works, Edinburgh


COMMITMENT: 6 months minimum, 2 days a week Monday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm



This role supports the Operations Manager in all administrative areas of the office in order to ensure the smooth running of the day to day systems of the busy office.


* Liaising with clients, volunteers, referral agencies and other stakeholders

* Answering the phone, answering or forwarding emails to relevant people

* Accepting donations and deliveries

* Updating the database and the contact list

* Booking and confirming client appointments

* Following up with clients after their visit

* Communicating with volunteers to confirm their attendance and providing them with feedback from clients

* Assisting at the events and other ad hock duties



* Experience in a similar administrative role.

* Knowledge of office management systems and procedures – familiar with database management, records management, filling system, confident over the phone, familiar with inventory control, confidential.

* MS Office proficiency – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, experienced with SharePoint

* Strong organisational and time management skills.

* Up-to-date with office applications– Hootsuite, MailChimp, WordPress, Google Calendar

* Ability to multitask and prioritise the daily workload

* Excellent verbal and written communications skills

* Experience with Social Media Marketing



If this exciting role could be the opportunity you have been looking for, please send your CV to Kasia Regula at


Closing date Monday 15th August 2016

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Your ‘5 a day’ nourishing yoga poses

By Lindsey Porter, Smart Works Edinburgh volunteer and owner of

For the 5th and final article on our theme of ‘5 a day’ to enhance your wellbeing – find here 5 yoga poses I suggest building into your daily routine. It may be helpful to get into this new positive habit by asking yourself the following, ‘What needs to be true for you to undertake these recommended stretches/positions so that you can nourish yourself inside and out regularly?’ And then seek to make those adjustments. And although some of the pics I’ve shown here are doing yoga outdoors please feel able to take your yoga wherever you feel comfortable.

“Yoga adds years to your life and life to your years.”

Suppleness of the spine. Back bends & forward bends.
A spine that can flex will literally stand you well in life and especially into your senior years. It’s never too soon or too late to start. Begin gently though and listen to your body. A great place to start is first thing in the morning, come on to all fours on the floor, making sure your shoulders, elbows and wrists are stacked over each other for good alignment and the same with the hips over knees. From here as you exhale flex your spine by arching it up, whilst drawing your abdomen in towards your back ribs, dropping the head and neck down. Move into a neutral flat-back position and then dip your back down so that your pelvis tilts up and your head, chin and gaze tilt upwards too. Once you feel comfortable doing this you can explore and deepen your spinal postures, such as into wheel pictured below. There are many great instructions available through google. This short sequence is known as Cat/Cow or Marjariasana pose.

5 a day - part 5 - Picture1

Cow (whilst inhaling)

5 a day - part 5 - Picture2

Cow (whilst inhaling)

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Bridge/ wheel pose (Chakrasana)

A breath of fresh air. Pranayama.
Let out the old and bring in the new. A simple deep, full breath in and out can do this. For a good dose of yogic type breathing ensure you fill your lungs and allow your belly to expand and diaphragm round out. This helps expel stale air often trapped in our lower lungs as we typically breathe into the upper part of our chest. Go deeper by exploring Anulom Vilom, an alternative nostril breathing sequence. It’s a simple and effective way to aid awareness of the breath, bring about a sense of calmness as well as balance to your body, mind and spirit.

Alternate nostril breathing (Anulom Vilom)

Change your view. Inversions – head below the heart.                                                             Shake it up a bit. Challenge yourself in new ways often to keep stagnant thoughts, mind and body at bay. A simple putting your head below your heart can help achieve this. This is what any inversion posture does from the yogic headstand to a standing forward fold bringing your head towards your shin or knees. Find at least one you feel comfortable with and go from there. In most cases, when I work with my students, particularly new ones, they come with a fear of headstands. And always they leave with a sense of elation when they have managed in some way to embrace that fear and work on a small or big step in their headstand journey. Please take any inversion step by step to make sure you have the necessary shoulder, neck and core strength to support the depth of your chosen posture.

5 a day - part 5 - Picture6

Headstand (Sirsasana)

A twist in the tail. Turning or rotations of the torso.
The beauty of a twist is the compression it gives to our vital organs aiding activities of digestion, elimination and detoxification. Twisting movements can also be found to help release tension, anxiety and to be energising. Please make sure you are aware of any contraindications and modifications right for you before starting your practice. In particular if you have any spinal challenges, injuries, chronic digestive complaints or are pregnant.

5 a day - part 5 - Picture7

Seated Twist Pose ( Ardha Matsyendrasana )

A moment to pause. Relaxation – meditation, mindfulness.                                                       An equally important part of any yoga practice is the time you take to stop and relax during and at the end of a yoga session. This helps the body to absorb the range of movements. It encourages the mind to find new spaces and to explore what’s there. Relaxation can be a guided visualisation or meditation, a head massage, Yoga Nidra or simply lying quietly, listening to subtle music with an eye bag and blanket over you. Do it regularly, even if for 5 mins a day, for a more peaceful existence.

5 a day - part 5 - Picture8

Relaxation pose (Savasana)

5 yoga poses to do each day. 5 ways to help your mind, body and spirit be at its best. 5 articles to help enhance your daily wellbeing. (Click here to read Part I , Part II , Part III and Part IV)

And lastly, my 5 ways to say thank you for reading and coming on this journey of wellbeing:

  1. Sign up to the Yoga~Nu~U newsletter at and receive your FREE copy of these articles in one handy document.
  2. Get an amazing 20% Discount off Asquith eco and ethical Active wear clothing great for yoga. Simply enter ‘YOGANUU20’ online at:
  3. Join my growing Facebook following at: Yoga~Nu~U to receive wellbeing reminders, information about yoga event and offers.
  4. A simple written ‘Thank You’.
  5. and lastly please do send your feedback in how you find these articles so that I can review and improve to

“My yoga. It doesn’t matter if things aren’t perfect. My practice is my time to feel alive, loved and free.”

Lindsey Porter is an accomplished Project Manager in Financial Services who is now running her own business providing WellBeing Retreats, Yoga classes and other therapies and writing articles on topics she’s passionate about. She is an experienced NLP Practitioner, Reiki Master and Holistic Therapist.

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HOW TO- Explain a gap in your CV

It’s important to realise when job hunting that not everyone has a perfect CV. Some people are lucky and have gone straight from school into further education followed by volunteering abroad and into paid work with no breaks. Others have different experiences, and for various reasons you may have had periods where you were out of work – perhaps through illness, to have children or maybe you there was a time where you found it difficult to find work. Whatever your CV looks like, it is your CV and it reflects your life experience to date.

There is no point in comparing it to anyone else’s – no-one else has lived your life. You are unique – so celebrate that fact!

WomanJumpingOverCliffWhen it comes to interviews you will almost certainly be asked about any gaps in your CV. Potential employers are always interested in your previous work history and why there may have been periods when you didn’t work. I always advocate an ‘honesty is the best policy’ approach. I would be truthful about the reasons why there are gaps in your CV. I would aim to present the reasons in a positive way explaining what you learned from this period in your life. Remember, that if you didn’t work because this was a challenging time in your life, then you will have grown during this period and probably learned a lot about yourself. We grow on a personal level far more in tough times than we do when life is easy. The fact that you are being interviewed now means that you are back and ready to work. If you have been at home raising children, then acknowledge this is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. The skills you learn as a parent will stand you in good stead to tackle any role! Don’t forget to mention any voluntary work you have done during this period. People often forget to mention work that is unpaid as though it is somehow less valuable than paid work. Voluntary work is a job like any other, the only difference is that you don’t receive any money. You will still make a contribution and gain valuable skills doing any kind of work, paid and unpaid so mention everything which is relevant to the job you are applying for. Employers are interested in it all.


Now, imagine you have secured an interview for your dream job. You are busy preparing – deciding what to wear, making notes of good work examples you can use in answer to interview questions. However, you have been dismissed from an earlier job and you know you are going to be asked about this. How do you reply? I am going to repeat my earlier advice and suggest you go with an honest approach. It’s vital to be aware that interviewers will sense if you are lying. We all unconsciously read each other’s body language all the time.  Studies of communication have shown that the words we use only account for around 7% of the message we are trying to convey. Our tone of voice accounts for around 38% and our body language accounts for roughly 55%.Communication-piechart

This is helpful to know because if you are about to explain something about which you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, e.g. you were fired from your last job for persistent lateness, then you need to consider not only WHAT you say but more importantly HOW you say it. If you are explaining this scenario to a prospective employer then be open and honest, try to keep your body language relaxed and maintain a reasonable level of eye contact (without staring!). Keep your tone steady. As in the previous example of gaps in your CV, explain what you learned from this experience and also how have worked to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Always bear in mind that we are all human and we all make mistakes. The person sitting across from you, interviewing you, is human too and they will also have made errors in their life. I can absolutely guarantee you that. It’s not so much the mistakes we make in life but how we learn from them and avoid repeating them.  What I do know from years of interviewing candidates is that I respect honesty and I can tell when I am being lied to.

So, embrace your CV with its gaps and quirks. Be open and honest, and to quote Oscar Wilde, ‘be yourself, everyone else is already taken’. Good luck.

Author : Ashley Moray, Volunteer at Smart Works Edinburgh