Brand new eco and ethical programme to support 1,000 communities and convert M&S into a zero-waste business

Marks & Spencer today announces a major community transformation programme designed to help 10 million people across Britain lead happier, healthier lives.

The two-year pilot programme –part of Plan A 2025 – will see M&S work with local councils in ten communities across the country on a range of initiative to tackle loneliness, poverty, mental health programmes and skills shortages.

The 10 communities earmarked for the pilot scheme are Birmingham, Bradford, Glasgow, Liverpool, Derry, Merthyr Tydfill, Middlesborough, Newham (East London), Norwich and Rochdale.

To deliver locally tailored initiatives in these communities, M&S will work with local councils and partners including Business in the Community, The Royal Voluntary Service, Silverline, Power to Change and Neighbourly.

 A programme of activities for each community is expected to include some or all of the following:

  • Support for children starting school, including 10,000 pairs of plimsolls provided to selected infant schools
  • Careers advice, CV and interview support and work experience for school leavers
  • Creation of friendship groups to tackle loneliness and exclusion via 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 100 start-up small businesses and social enterprises in partnership with Power to Change. One firm in each location will have the chance to land a lottery grant
  • Investment in outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed by all (eg urban gardens, high street flowerbeds, city tree planting schemes)
  • Grants to support food surplus charities to fund fridges and refrigerated transport to ensure redistribution of fresh food plus special events throughout the year. Every year M&S stores will provide an estimated 30,000 meals to the homeless and people living in poverty in the 10 locations
  • Employee volunteering involving 6,000 M&S colleagues from 650 stores and offices, donating time to local community projects all over the UK

Successful initiatives will be rolled out to a further 100 locations by 2023 and learnings will be shared with a further 1000 communities.

Plan A 2025 also aims to make M&S a zero-waste business with a programme of new commitments:

  • 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
  • Aim to raise £25 million for cancer charities by 2025
  • All key raw materials M&S uses to come from sustainable sources by 2025
  • Maintain carbon neutral status until at least 2025 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030 (compared to 2007 levels)

The original Plan 7 programme launched 10 years ago. It has won 240 awards and save £750 million in costs through efficiencies such as using less energy, fewer transport miles and reduced packaging.

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