M&S announces major new community scheme in Toxteth and Dingle


Marks & Spencer today announces a major community transformation programme as part of Plan A 2025 – its new plan to support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a zero-waste business.

The pioneering programme will see M&S work with local councils and charity partners to support communities to deliver positive, measurable change. It is launching on ‘Make it Matter Day’ – when M&S is encouraging the UK to make every decision count* and #SpenditWell.

It will initially be piloted in ten communities, including Toxteth and Dingle, over the next two years, when M&S will trial a range of actions designed to tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, poverty, and mental health and wellbeing. Successful initiatives will be rolled out to a further 100 locations by 2023 and learnings will be shared with 1,000 locations by 2025.

The programme kicks off with a week of community volunteering, which will see over 7,000 M&S colleagues from 650 stores and offices donating time to over 700 local projects across the UK.

M&S’ Head of Region Pete Swallow and colleagues from M&S Liverpool Church Street were  joined by representatives of Liverpool City Council to kick off the community transformation programme with an event in aid of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The sewing workshop, run in partnership with Liverpool organisation Making for Charity, will take place in-store, and volunteers from across the city created personalised care bags for the Macmillan Supportive and Palliative care team. The bags  will be used by patients undergoing cancer treatment to carry sensitive medical equipment.

Mayor Joe Anderson, said: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with M&S for their new community project and are pleased they have chosen to focus on Toxteth and Dingle. We share a desire to improve the lives of local residents and are looking forward to working with them on a range of schemes that will make a real difference, whether it’s bringing together people who feel isolated, supporting the vulnerable or giving people the skills to help them into employment.”

Steve Rowe, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer said: “Marks & Spencer has been at the forefront of social change for 133 years and we’re determined to play a leading role in the years ahead by taking positive action to enable customers and communities to live happier, healthier lifestyles.

“Through our UK-wide store network we are seeing more and more evidence that communities need support from partners, like M&S, to positively deliver change.

“We’ve looked at what matters to communities, which are issues like access to work-place skills, social inclusion, support for mental health problems and believe we can play a key role and make a real difference to community life. We’re starting with ten so that we can learn, adapt and develop an agile approach that will allow us to support 1,000 communities by 2025.”

Alongside Toxteth and Dingle, the other nine communities M&S is currently in discussions with are Birmingham (focusing on Handsworth and Handsworth Wood), Bradford, Glasgow (focusing on Easterhouse), Derry~Londonderry, Merthyr Tydfil, Middlesbrough, London Borough of Newham, Norwich and Rochdale.

In these communities, M&S will trial a series of locally tailored initiatives that will aim to improve the social wellbeing and happiness of residents by working with The Social Innovation Partnership to track how residents feel about their community – how positive they are, if they are connected to others and whether they feel part of the community.

To deliver the initiatives M&S will work with local councils and partners including Business In The Community, Royal Voluntary Service, The Silver Line, Power to Change, Frazzled Cafe and Neighbourly. Each of the 10 locations will have a programme of activities that is expected to include some or all of the following, as well as bespoke initiatives designed with Liverpool Council:

• Support for children starting school, including 10,000 pairs of plimsolls;

• Careers advice, CV and interview support and work experience for school leavers;

• A plan to create the biggest friendship group in the area to tackle loneliness and exclusion by bringing together customers, colleagues and local people through events at M&S stores such as tea parties and walking clubs and a network of volunteer phone buddies;

• Hosting Frazzled Cafes for those feeling stressed or in need of support;

• Support for up to 100 start-up community businesses that are led by and for the benefit of local people in the seven communities in England by partnering with Power to Change to combine grants of up to £50,000 and access to skills and advice on topics such as business planning, supply chains, digital development and customer research. A similar programme with different partners will be developed for the three communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;

• Investment in outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed by everyone. Proposals include urban gardens, high street flowerbeds, city tree planting and green walls that have the potential to benefit over 150,000 people in the 10 communities;

• Grants to support food surplus charities to fund fridges and cool bags to ensure they can redistribute fresh food and providing volunteers to host special events throughout the year – every year our stores will provide an estimated 30,000 meals to the homeless and people living in poverty in the 10 locations;

• Employee volunteering – kicking off this week with over 7,000 M&S colleagues from 650 stores and offices donating time to over 700 local community projects all over the UK over the next ten days.

Amanda MacKenzie, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said: “Healthy, prosperous communities need business as much as businesses need resilient, thriving communities. Business in the Community is delighted to be supporting M&S. They are leading The Prince’s Responsible Business Network with this exemplar programme bringing support into areas of greatest need across the UK. We very much look forward to working with them to engage many others and together, achieve the greatest impact possible, which is the foundation of Business in the Community.”

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change, said: “We are extremely proud to team up with M&S and invest in making communities even stronger and more resilient. This is about realising that we can all achieve much more by working together. None of us have all the answers on our own. The social sector and the private sector can come together with local people to help them change the places where they live. Community businesses are already helping local people and local economies all over the country, and we look forward to joining forces with M&S to support the movement even more.”

David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: “This programme is exactly in line with our belief that, by working together in partnerships, we can provide more of the practical help and contact that we all will need as we get older.”

More detail on the pilot community programme can be found here.

As well as supporting 1,000 communities, Plan A 2025 also aims to make M&S a zero-waste business and to help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives. New commitments include –
• Supporting M&S colleagues worldwide to provide one million hours of worktime community volunteering between 2017 and 2025;
• All M&S packaging to be ‘widely recyclable’ by 2022;
• Halving food waste by 2025;
• At least half of global food sales coming from healthier products by 2022;
• Helping to raise £25 million for charities tackling cancer, heart disease, mental health problems, loneliness and dementia by 2025;
• All key raw materials M&S uses to come from sustainable sources by 2025;
• M&S will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in its own operations by 2030 (compared to 2007 levels) and, during the same period, cut emissions in its supply chain by 13.3m tonnes (approved Science Based Target).

M&S will report on Plan A 2025 progress every year in June and the commitments will be assured by independent auditors and M&S’ own audit team.

A full press release on Plan A 2025 can be found here.

The original Plan A programme launched 10 years ago and has since helped redefine the role of business in society. It has delivered 296 stretching eco and ethical commitments, won 240 awards and saved over £750 million in costs through efficiencies such as using less energy, fewer transport miles and reducing packaging.

More detail on Plan A progress can be found here.

For further information, please contact Grayling: Danielle Kaye and Katie Eborall graylingnorth@grayling.com / 0113 273 9900
* A study conducted on behalf of M&S last month found that 96% of us admit to living life on autopilot, resulting in an epidemic of non-engagement with the world and sub-conscious decision making. As a result, M&S is urging the UK to break out of autopilot and make every decision count as part of its challenge to the nation to #SpenditWell.

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