Marks & Spencer (M&S) has joined forces with Joanna Lumley to launch Spark Something Good.

The new initiative aims to inspire and motivate employees and customers around the country to grab a shovel, pick up a paintbrush and take action for social good – donating time to their local communities to improve lives up and down the country.

Yesterday in London, M&S, its customers and employees, along with members of local communities, completed 24 community projects around the capital in 24 hours. Led by Joanna and CEO Marc Bolland, the company aimed to spark its 34 million customers into action by showing just what can be achieved in just one day when people come together united by a common goal.

The launch will kick off projects in a further 24 towns and cities across the UK and Ireland over the next 24 months.

A newly created Spark Something Good website – www.marksandspencer.com/getinvolved – has been developed in partnership with the social network for social good, Neighbourly.com. The site shows the local fundraising and volunteering opportunities that every one of M&S’ owned stores are involved in. Every store has chosen a local charity of the year to fundraise for and support, meaning customers who can’t volunteer time or skills have the opportunity to make a difference in the community through donations in store.

M&S developed Spark Something Good following extensive research and dialogue which revealed that getting involved in community projects enhanced people’s lives.

Joanna Lumley, M&S Spark Something Good ambassador, comments: "This isn’t just about today or even tomorrow. It’s about the cumulative effect of people giving back to their community over time. We want to make people happy and spark a relay of good deeds across the nation and we need your help now! The potential is simply enormous.

“People tell us they’d like to support local charities and they want to give hands-on help and see lives being changed. Donating time is just as valuable as giving money and is often more rewarding.”

Whatever an individual’s passion – from photography to DIY and gardening to cookery – there will be something for everyone on the Neighbourly network so that people can ensure their skills are put to use in their communities.

Spark Something Good is part of Plan A, M&S’s ground-breaking eco and ethical programme. M&S has a long history of giving something back to the community. In the past seven years M&S has raised more than £50 million for charity partners, raised £15 million for Oxfam through its Shwopping initiative and encouraged its employees to volunteer by allowing an annual, paid volunteer day.

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