The retailer Marks & Spencer has pledged to raise £25m for charity, provide one million staff volunteering hours and make £1m available to community businesses in partnership with the charitable trust Power to Change.
The retailer's sustainability scheme, called Plan A 2025 and launched today, will focus on three key strands over the next eight years: health, environmental concerns and transforming communities and lives.
M&S said it hoped to raise the money by 2025 for charities that tackle cancer, heart disease, mental health problems, loneliness and dementia, including Breast Cancer Now, Macmillan Cancer Support and the mental health charity Frazzled Cafe. It will reveal how the money is to be raised later in the year.
Power to Change will be one of the retailer’s partners for one of the plan’s key commitments – a pilot programme working with local councils and charity partners to deliver measurable change through supporting community businesses.
For the pilot programme, M&S has identified 10 areas where it has a presence and which have social problems the retailer believes it can help to deal with.
The areas are Birmingham, Norwich, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Rochdale, Newham in east London, Bradford, Glasgow, Londonderry/Derry and Merthyr Tydfil.
Power to Change will support the three-year pilot programme in the seven locations in England by speaking to local voluntary sector organisations to assess what is needed and which community organisations and businesses can be supported.
The trust will make £1m from its Big Lottery Fund endowment available to support community business through the scheme, and M&S staff will provides skills and mentoring in retail, customer research, marketing, finance and supply chains.
M&S said in a statement that it aimed to roll out the scheme to 100 further locations in the UK and internationally by 2023, and 1,000 by 2025.
It will also collaborate with Oxfam over three years to explore the connection between sourcing practices and human rights impacts in the UK and India.
Mike Barry, director of Plan A at M&S, said the company’s new strategy would force the company "to address questions for which we don’t have all the answers yet and collaborate with others to drive true change across consumer goods industries".