Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer tea party Edinburgh
Royal Voluntary Service has enjoyed working with Marks & Spencer since 2016 to connect older people in communities across Britain.

To mark Volunteers Week 2017, 44 M&S in-store cafés held tea-parties to celebrate the valuable contribution our volunteers make to their local community. Spanning Edinburgh to Truro, hundreds of Royal Voluntary Service volunteers, staff and service users were joined by M&S customers and treated to a delicious afternoon tea. The parties were a fantastic way to thank our volunteers and raise awareness of the great work they do. M&S café staff volunteered their time to help plan and host the events, some of which included live music, raffles and personal shopping experiences, ensuring everyone had a wonderful time.

Marks & Spencer has undertaken a community transformation programme as part of its Plan A 2025 to support people in 1,000 communities. This pioneering programme sees M&S work with local councils and charity partners to support communities to deliver positive, measurable change. It will initially be piloted in ten communities over the next two years, when M&S will trial a range of actions designed to tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, poverty, and mental health and wellbeing. Royal Voluntary Service is delighted to be a key national partner working on this programme to help tackle loneliness and improve wellbeing by bringing older people together through establishing friendship groups in M&S stores.

"We’re determined to play a leading role in the years ahead by taking positive action to enable customers and communities to live happier, healthier lifestyles. We’ve looked at what matters to communities and believe we can play a key role and make a real difference to community life."

Steve Rowe, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer
Since May 2018, we have been piloting ‘Tea & Company’ friendship groups in M&S cafés across seven locations; Middlesbrough, Merthyr Tydfil, Bradford, Newham (London), Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham. Hosted by Royal Voluntary Service staff and volunteers, the idea of the events is to create a regular social group where older people can come each month to meet others in their community, make friends and find out about our local volunteering opportunities and services.

"We are delighted to be working with such an iconic British brand, whose stores are in the heart of so many communities in towns and cities across the UK. Tea & Company events aim to bring people in communities together, particular those in later life, enabling them to connect with others and build friendships."

Fiona Longhurst, Director of Communications, Marketing and Fundraising, Royal Voluntary Service

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