Thousands of Local People Benefit from M&S Northern Ireland Community Projects

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TV’s Sewing Bees have it all sewn up as they help premature babies. M&S kickstarted ‘Make It Matter Day’ in Belfast by supporting The Prenatal Trust / Regional Neonatal Unit at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. Staff at the M&S Belfast store, with the help of two expert seamstresses and ex-contestants of the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, set up a sewing studio in-store with 40 volunteer sewers helping to make special incubator blankets for premature babies to lie on.

A new M&S community-based initiative has seen over 15,000 people benefit from 50 projects completed across Northern Ireland, including garden transformations, charity shop renovations, employability schemes, and much more.

The Making Every Moment Special in the Community initiative is part of the recently-launched M&S campaign #SpenditWell , which is about inspiring people to make every moment special by focusing on the experiences, people and things that really matter in life.

M&S stores across Northern Ireland (20 in total) completed 50 different projects, each with the common goal of making a lasting difference in their local community.

From helping renovate the common rooms of the Simon Community in Lisburn, to serving food at the Vineyard Compassion Soup Kitchen in Coleraine, to revamping the Remembrance Garden at Foyle Search & Rescue, and sewing over 200 blankets for the Neo-Natal Unit at Royal Victoria Hospital, almost 700 M&S staff took part in the scheme.

Ryan Lemon, M&S Head of Region Northern Ireland, said: “When we began planning this initiative we knew it would be no easy feat to complete 50 projects in just two weeks, but as it is M&S 50th anniversary in Northern Ireland, we were determined to make it happen. We know our staff, and their commitment to helping others is second-to-none with their sheer determination and passion, nothing is impossible.

“To identify our 50 projects, we started by looking at what matters most in our local communities and where we could make a difference. We worked with schools, charity shops, homeless shelters, animal sanctuaries, and tackled issues like mental health, employability, and disabilities, in locations across the country.

“We spent 3,987 hours volunteering, planted 2,282 trees and flowers, used 689 litres of paint, and got rid of 812 bags of rubbish. But the most significant number of all is that we helped over 15,000 people, and hopefully many more in the future. 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.”

Now, M&S prepares to embark on the next stage of its new eco and ethical plan, Plan A 2025, which will be piloted in ten communities over the next two years, one of which is Londonderry. M&S will trial a range of initiatives and interventions designed to tackle the issues that matter most to communities such as loneliness, poverty, mental health problems and skills shortages.

In light of declining profits, the retailer has said it will close 30 UK stores and reduce shop space reserved for its clothing ranges as it focuses more on food. Food stores at Lisburn Road, Boucher Road and Ballyhackamore in Belfast are not in line for immediate closure.

Reference list: edamedia.2017. Retrieved from http://www.edamedia.co.uk/south-side-news-stories/thousands-of-local-people-benefit-from-m-s-northern-ireland-community-projects/

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