Business in the Community is partnering with Marks & Spencer for a major community transformation programme as part of Plan A 2025 – a new plan forumlated by M&S 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, including BITC, to support communities to deliver positive, measurable change. It was launched on ‘Make it Matter Day’ – when M&S encouraged the UK to make every decision count and #SpenditWell.
The programme will initially be piloted in 10 communities 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.
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 10 so that we can learn, adapt and develop an agile approach that will allow us to support 1,000 communities by 2025.”
The 10 communities M&S is currently in discussions with are Birmingham (focusing on Handsworth and Handsworth Wood), Bradford, Glasgow (focusing on Easterhouse), Liverpool (focusing on Toxteth and Dingle), 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 support for children starting school, careers advice, and hosting Frazzled Cafes for those feeling stressed or in need of support. Employee volunteering will also take place – 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 10 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.”
As well as supporting 1,000 communities, Plan A 2025 also aims to make M&S a zero-waste business, with commitments including halving food waste by 2025, for all M&S packaking to be 'widely recyclable' by 2022 and all key raw materials M&S uses to come from sustainable sources by 2025.
More details on the pilot community programme can be found here