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SPARKS HITS THE MARK: M&S REACHES MILESTONE OF £10MILLION DONATIONS TO SPARKS CHARITIES

09/20/2021 | 05:02am

This weekend M&S hit the huge donation milestone of £10m to Sparks' roster of deserving charity partners.

M&S donates to each Sparks customer's chosen charity every time they shop at M&S - whether in-store, online or via the M&S app - and over the weekend M&S made its one billionth donation.

The scheme is a key way Sparks achieves its customer promise of making good things happen every time you shop. From protecting wildlife & the environment to supporting young people & the vulnerable, the scope of the 35 charities & causes customers can choose to support is broad, and every penny donated makes a difference. Sparks donations have helped:

  • Oxfam give lifesaving support to over 14 million people in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Fund over 330,000 hours of vital breast cancer risk & prevention research for Breast Cancer Now since 2015.
  • Shelter answer over 29,500 calls to its emergency helpline since 2015.
  • akt support over 700 young LGBTQ+ people facing homelessness and abuse during the pandemic simply for being who they are.
  • The Marine Conservation Society secure protection for 38% of UK seas; improve the sustainability in over 760 million seafood meals; and helped get plastic straws, coffee stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds banned - all since 2015.
  • RNLI save 349 lives and help over 33,500 people since 2020.

Re-engage

One charity customers can support is Re-engage, which helps to tackle loneliness among older people who have become isolated. Sparks donations help the charity to provide regular, free opportunities for older people to make new friends over the phone or in their local communities.

Despite only launching as a Sparks charity in June 2020, Re-engage has received over £6k in donations - a figure which could result in 792 calls to isolated and lonely older people.

One of these people is Barbara, 80, who found herself feeling lonely after her husband passed away and mobility issues made it difficult for her to get out and about. Barbara joined Re-engage's 'call companions' service and was matched with a volunteer named Sheila. Barbara said: 'On our first call Sheila felt like a real friend; without her I would feel so isolated. The calls are a lifeline.'

Cool Earth

Another of the 35 charities is Cool Earth - which works with rainforest communities to help reduce deforestation and its impact on climate change.

Sparks card donations help to fund crucial work that relieves pressure on the rainforest and planet - from sustainable farming to satellite tracking to wildfire prevention.

One such example is in Papua New Guinea, where Sparks donations are helping to fund literacy programmes, upskilling local people to help manage their land and protect their forests.

Supporting customers and communities

Sparks donations are just one facet of M&S' commitment to supporting local communities and valuable causes up and down the UK.

Other initiatives include the retailer's food redistribution scheme in partnership with Neighbourly, which has helped to donate the equivalent of over 30.1 million meals to those in need since 2016; and its longstanding support for NHS services - which over the past 18 months has seen M&S donate thousands of t-shirts and pyjamas for local NHS staff to use as uniform, launch special NHS charity t-shirts and shopping bags, and launch a dedicated 'Rainbow Sale' to raise money for NHS Charities Together.

Download Sparks and get M&S to donate every time you shop

Following the relaunch of Sparks as a digital first loyalty programme last year, it's never been easier for customers to download Sparks and get M&S to donate to charity every single time they shop.

Customers have 35 charities & causes to choose from (25 were added last year including Cool Earth, akt, The Black Curriculum and NHS Charities Together) and customers can change their chosen charity as often as they like. Customers can also elect to 'support all charities' if they'd prefer to spread their donations rather than support one specific cause.

All relevant information, such as the cumulative total raised for each Sparks charity, can be found in the Sparks Hub on the M&S App - which can be downloaded in just 30 seconds by clicking here.

Jo Daniels, Head of Partnerships, Plan A, said: 'At M&S we have a longstanding history of supporting the causes that matter most to our customers and colleagues - whether on a local level in the many hundred communities we operate in or on a national level with our support for our fantastic charity partners. I'm hugely proud that M&S has now reached the £10m Sparks donation milestone and want to say a big thank you to our Sparks customers for helping us get there.'

Sarah Newell, Partnerships Manager at Re-Engage said: 'Sparks has been an absolute lifeline for us. Despite only joining Sparks last year, we've received more than £6k in donations from M&S, and that money has been vital as it's allowed us to organise events and allow isolated people to re-engage with others and society - which, after the last 18 months, has never been so important.'

Magda Pieta, Business Partnerships Executive at Cool Earth, said: 'The support we've received from M&S and its customers since joining Sparks has been phenomenal. By supporting local people in rainforest regions, together we can help protect our rainforest and fight the climate crisis at the root - and every single penny donated makes a real difference.'

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

List of 35 Sparks charities:

Health & Wellbeing

Action Cancer

NHS Charities Together

Prostate Cancer UK

RNLI

Dementia UK

Macmillan Cancer Support

Mind

Breast Cancer Now

British Heart Foundation

Sands

Community & Inclusion

Re-engage

The Royal British Legion

National Emergencies Trust

Scope

Blueprint For All

akt

GoodGym

Oxfam

Disclaimer

Marks & Spencer Group plc published this content on 20 September 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 20 September 2021 09:01:02 UTC.

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