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To mark the 50th anniversary of M&S in Northern Ireland, we took on the ambitious task of hosting 50 ‘Making Every Moment Special in the Community’ projects across the region. It seemed important to go above and beyond the expected to really make a difference to local communities, especially as it is a milestone year for the business.

The ‘Making Every Moment Special in the Community’ initiative is part of a recently-launched M&S community transformation programme, which will support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a zero-waste business by 2025. It launched on ‘Make it Matter Day’ (June 1st) when M&S encouraged the UK to #SpenditWell and make every moment count.

When it came to identifying 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.

As a result, we have managed to help over 15,000 people benefit from a wide range of projects, including garden transformations, charity shop renovations, employability schemes and much, much more. 

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 premature babies in the Neo-Natal Unit at Royal Victoria Hospital, almost 700 M&S staff took part in the scheme, each with the common goal of making a lasting difference in their local community. 

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When we began planning this initiative, we knew it would be no easy feat to complete 50 projects in just two weeks, but we were determined to make it happen. We know our team and their commitment to helping others is second-to-none – with their sheer determination and passion, anything is possible! 

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 Northern Ireland staff have achieved through this initiative – the difference this has made to our local community is astounding.