9 January 2013

Senior staff from M&S have just returned from Bangladesh, where they saw how money raised from recycling hangers in their stores is improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest children.

The M&S and UNICEF partnership launched in 2011. The aim was to raise $3 million over three years for children living in slum and rural communities in Bangladesh, a country where more than half of children live below the poverty line.

Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A at M&S, and Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business, visited day care centres and pre-primary schools that provide safe and stimulating educational facilities for young children. The centres also allow parents to go to work and older siblings to attend school.

The M&S team met teenagers who are learning about life issues like HIV and early marriage. UNICEF helps these children continue their education by providing a bursary. This small financial support is helping children stay in school, rather than getting married or going to work.

Richard and Mike also took part in street theatre that teaches children the importance of hand washing, the simplest way of keeping children healthy.

These are just a few examples of what UNICEF's been able to achieve with the support and funding from M&S. 

Many of M&S's products are produced in Bangladesh, so the company is keen to benefit the communities affected by their business.

"I wish every one of our employees could have seen what I saw," said Mike. "To ride the emotions of despair and hope and see the very real difference UNICEF and M&S are making to so many lives."

UNICEF Ahsan Khan  © UNICEF/ 2012/ Ahsan Khan
Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business meets children in Bangladesh. © UNICEF/ 2012/ Ahsan Khan
Richard Gillies  © UNICEF/ 2012/ Ahsan Khan
Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A at M&S spends time with children and local communities in Bangladesh.© UNICEF/ 2012/ Ahsan Khan