By Sangeeta Waldron — Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced plans to tackle unemployment, skills shortages and poverty in 10 areas around the UK, as part of a new community transformation initiative. This British high-street retailer has pledged to raise £25m
for mental health, heart and cancer charities, and halve food waste across its operations by 2025, as it steps up its ethical commitments under its new chief executive, Steve Rowe. It has looked at what matters to communities and found that issues like access to work-place skills, social inclusion, support for mental health problems are important and believes it can play a role to make a real difference to community life. It will work with local councils and charity partners on a programme of activities to create change locally.
M&S is set to roll out this project to a further 100 locations by 2023 and aims to be in 1,000 communities by 2025. Rowe, who took charge of M&S just over a year ago, said that M&S “determined to play a leading role” in social change by supporting community projects in 10 cities, including Birmingham, Rochdale, Glasgow, Liverpool, Derry, Middlesbrough and the London borough of Newham. Each of the 10 locations will have a schedule of activities that includes support for children starting school; CV and interview support; work experience for school leavers; investment in outdoor spaces; grants to support food surplus charities and employee volunteering. In these communities, M&S will be working with The Social Innovation Partnership
In Birmingham alone, 37% of children live in poverty and in some parts of the city that figure rises to 80%! While in Glasgow, where you live is a strong determinant of how long you live, with a life expectancy gap among men of at least 13 years between those living in rich and poor areas of the city. Healthy, prosperous communities need business as much as businesses need resilient, thriving communities.
M&S’s initiatives include cutting carbon emissions and giving grants of up to £50,000 for community businesses, careers advice to young people, and 10,000 pairs of plimsolls to children starting school. This high-street fashion, food and homewares retailer is leading The Prince’s Responsible Business Network
with this programme.
The social and the private sector coming together with local people to help them change the places where they live is much needed, because the public sector can’t do it alone. Community businesses are already helping local people and local economies all over the country, and with M&S’s, support more local communities will become empowered even further.
Photo Credit: Marks & Spencer