M&S colleagues ‘walk the capital’ as part of fun-raiser for YoungMinds charity

M&S colleagues ‘walk the capital’ as part of fun-raiser for YoungMinds charity
M&S Belfast colleague, Tracey Woods will take part in the marathon walk in aid of YoungMinds.

A group of M&S colleagues, all of whom are passionate about supporting young people suffering from poor mental health, are setting off on a marathon walk this week in aid of YoungMinds, the leading mental health charity for young people.

The hike is part of a week-long ‘fun-raiser’ with activities taking place across all 22 M&S stores in Northern Ireland in support of the charity. From skydiving to fancy dress and cycling the equivalent of Malin Head to Mizen Head, colleagues will be helping to raise valuable funds and build awareness of the help available for those struggling.

The activities in Northern Ireland are part of M&S’s wider fundraising efforts this week with more than 360 M&S stores across the UK and Ireland taking on a ‘fun-raising’ challenges and further marathon walks taking place in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin. Customers will be able to donate in-store or online via fundraising platform Tiltify.

The fundraising is part of the retailer’s three-year partnership with YoungMinds announced in October last year. M&S aims to raise £5million to support young people’s mental health over the next three years.

This will enable YoungMinds to support seven million young people and the adults in their lives through easy to access online resources and its dedicated Parent’s Helpline.


To kick-start the partnership, M&S made a £1 million donation and the generosity of customers and colleagues has raised an additional £700,000 so far.

Among those taking part is Tracey Woods, a customer service assistant who works in M&S Belfast. Tracey, the mother of four girls, explained how YoungMinds has been an invaluable resource for her family.

“My partner took his own life when our girls were very young. When a devastating event like that occurs in your life, you need all the support you can get. We were lucky that friends and family rallied round us, but as my four daughters grew up, they understandably were left asking a lot of questions and all of them, at one time or another, have suffered from ill mental health because of the loss we experienced,” said Tracey.

“Services like those offered by YoungMinds are crucial for the challenges young people today face in relation to maintaining their mental health. Their resources are fantastic. They are written in a language younger people can understand – that is tailor made for them. Plus there is also brilliant information and signposting to services for parents.

‘The incredible fundraising efforts by M&S will help us reach and support more young people and the adults in their lives’

“I am delighted that, together with my M&S colleagues, we’re able to raise funds for this brilliant cause, which is more important than ever. I would urge everyone to head into their local store, give what they can and, if you’re in and around Belfast, keep an eye out for me and the other walkers!”

Research commissioned by M&S and YoungMinds found that despite struggling with their mental health, 65% of young people hadn’t asked for any kind of formal support – 33% of those said they felt too embarrassed.

While loneliness was found to be the primary cause of mental health problems among young people surveyed and 61% of those waiting for mental health support said they had stopped attending school, college, university or work – risking greater isolation from their friends.

Laura Bunt, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said: “Life is increasingly tough for young people and record numbers are in need of support for their mental health. When they’re able to access the help they need, things can get better, but the wait for support is often too long or the right support isn’t available. Together with M&S, we want to show young people that together we can turn things around. The incredible fundraising efforts by M&S will help us reach and support more young people and the adults in their lives.”