Smart Works, a UK charity that empowers women to get back into work and counts HRH Duchess of Sussex as its Royal Patron, has become the latest charity to benefit from a colour transformation courtesy of AkzoNobel.

The charity, which supports women through the employment process by providing suitable clothing for job interviews and specialist interview training, has given its coaching room at its Newcastle centre a complete makeover thanks to a generous donation from the Ashington-based paint manufacturer.

Having heard about AkzoNobel through one of its trustees, staff at Smart Works submitted an application for 15 litres of the company’s Dulux Trade Vinyl Soft Sheen paint in a delicate blue colour, which would help to create a calming space for the charity’s volunteer interview trainers to deliver coaching to clients.

Nathalie Bouleau Chabot, business development lead at Smart Works Newcastle, said: “Many of the women that we support are very nervous when they first come to us. They might have been out of work for some time due to a variety of different circumstances, so it’s really important that we create a tranquil and friendly atmosphere to help them relax.

“Our coaching room was painted in a dark and oppressive plum colour which drew the walls in and made the space feel quite claustrophobic. The new light blue colour has made such a huge difference – the makeover has completely changed the look and feel of the room and we have had lots of positive feedback from clients who now really enjoy using the space. We can’t thank AkzoNobel enough.”

Smart Works recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its centre opening in Newcastle. The newest of all of the Smart Works outlets across the country, the service has supported 375 women to date, with 290 clients accessing the service in its first year.

Women of all ages and backgrounds can access Smart Works’ services, either by self-referral or through a reference from their local job centre, if they have a confirmed job interview.

As part of a package service, clients firstly spend time with Smart Works’ team of volunteer stylists who help them to select an interview appropriate outfit from its range of high-quality professional clothing, much of which has been donated by Smart Works’ retail partners including high street brands such as Hobbs, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and even designer labels such as Burberry. Once suitably attired, clients spend time one-to-one with one of the charity’s volunteer interview coaches, all of who have professional working backgrounds and experience in HR or recruitment.

Alex Wardle, process engineer at AkzoNobel Ashington, commented: “Since we opened the doors to our new manufacturing facility in Ashington two years ago, AkzoNobel has been on a mission to help positively colour the lives of people living in the local community and show the world thatAkzoNobel Cares.

“We truly believe in the transformative power of colour which is why, wherever possible, we are committed to making donations of paint and volunteering time to community groups and organisations like Smart Works.

“We were absolutely blown away by the work that Nathalie and the team do at Smart Works Newcastle and we’re delighted that our donation has helped to make such a difference to their service.”

AkzoNobel is the world’s leading manufacturer of decorative paints and coatings, with household brands including Dulux, Dulux Trade, Cuprinol and Hammerite.

Highly regarded as the most advanced and sustainable paint manufacturing facility in the world, AkzoNobel Ashington has donated more than 3,000 litres of paint to charitable causes since production began in 2017.