As part of celebrating 50 years of trade in Northern Ireland, M&S ambitiously undertook 50 community volunteering projects over a two week period. The team were passionate from the outset about completing a broad spread of projects across Northern Ireland to support a wide spectrum of charities and community groups; from special needs and the elderly to poverty and mental health.
The business issue
M&S largely endeavoured to focus on charities and community groups that did not have significant government funding and were not already considerably well known. The aim of the projects was to create a lasting benefit to each organisation.
What M&S did
M&S appointed 50 project hosts to coordinate the campaign. Project hosts worked closely with the chosen charity and community groups to ascertain their particular needs. Volunteers were made up of store colleagues, third party suppliers and contractors and supporters of the relevant charities and community organisations. M&S also worked closely with Business in the Community to gain an insight into social needs across Northern Ireland and it benefitted from Business in the Community’s direct involvement in three of the projects. Project Hosts also engaged other local businesses to support the projects creating a multiplier effect. M&S donated an average of £500 per project, a total of £25,000 across Northern Ireland and also separately fundraised £25,000 for the hero project Angel Wishes. Projects ranged from outdoor tasks such as creating a garden of remembrance for Willowbridge Special School in Enniskillen; to interior decorating for Tiny Life in East Belfast; from social activities such as hosting a tea party for Age NI in Lisburn; to employability support for a range of charities including Orchardville in Bangor.
M&S colleagues themselves greatly benefited from the feel good factor of participating. Many continue to volunteer either on an individual basis or with their store teams
There was substantial media coverage of the campaign across Northern Ireland through print, online and broadcast
We know our staff, and their commitment to helping others is second to none – with their sheer determination and passion, nothing is impossible. I am inherently proud of what the M&S staff have achieved through this initiative – the difference this has made to our local community is astounding.
Ryan Lemon, Head of Region, Northern Ireland, M&S