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Retailer selects Newham as pilot area for new community initiative

PUBLISHED: 15:44 01 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:44 01 June 2017

M&S CEO Steve Rowe joins Newham residents Kala Mehra and eight-year-old Shakir to prepare a breakfast made with surplus food (All pictures: PA)

M&S CEO Steve Rowe joins Newham residents Kala Mehra and eight-year-old Shakir to prepare a breakfast made with surplus food (All pictures: PA)

PRESS ASSOCIATION

Unemployment, loneliness and mental health are among the issues set to be tackled in Newham as part of a pilot scheme.

Catherine Apps, from Plaistow, builds a tower with children from the 13th Forest Gate Rainbows and Brownies groupCatherine Apps, from Plaistow, builds a tower with children from the 13th Forest Gate Rainbows and Brownies group

Marks and Spencer has selected the borough as one of ten launch areas for its Plan A 2025 project, where it will trial a range of initiatives designed to combat community issues.

The scheme was launched this morning at the Old Town Hall, Stratford, where representatives from a variety of community groups and organisations came together to share a breakfast and play games.

Marks and Spencer’s chief executive Steve Rowe said: “I understand and I know how important communities in London are and can be.

“Newham is one of the places that has that tremendous community spirit and when the Olympics came in 2012 it was a success in front of the whole world.

“But we know there are pressures on our communities, and it’s a real shame because being part of that community makes a real difference in our everyday lives.”

Among the initiatives will be a ‘frazzled cafe’ in the Westfield Stratford City store, providing a place for people feeling stressed or in need of support, employees volunteering for a range of community projects and providing careers advice and support for school leavers.

The retailer also aims to reduce food waste by giving more unsold goods to food banks and provide support for start-up businesses, and will be working with partner organisations to deliver its plans.

“Over the next couple of months we’re going to be working with the council and the community groups to determine exactly what the programme looks like,” said Mike Barry, director of sustainable business.

“We’re not rushing it, because we want to do it in a clear and measurable way so we can understand what the people of Newham want, what a difference M&S can make and ensure that by doing these things it actually makes a difference.

“Even when we finish the trial, we’re going to keep working with Newham well into the future.”

Successful initiatives will be rolled out across the country, with the company aiming to implement them in the areas around each of its 1,000 stores by 2025.


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