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Meet the queen of cotton Look-good, do-good denim




From renovating school playgrounds to hosting tea parties for the homeless, M&S has pledged to help transform 1,000 communities across the UK by 2025. Ali Ivery, one of our superstar volunteers, shows how every one of us can make a difference

Play your part

Working it

See Ali and her volunteers overhaul a community centre for a very special event – look out for our major community transformation projects in 10 UK cities, tackling issues such as loneliness, poverty and mental health


Even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to take more than we give in life. Unless you’re Ali Ivery, a force of nature who helped co-ordinate 24 community projects across Newcastle last year – all in one whirlwind week. “I hadn’t done any volunteering since school,” says the 30-year-old regional commercial operations manager. “But M&S helped me get back into it through an initiative that encourages its staff to roll up their sleeves and get out into their neighbourhood to make a difference,” she explains.

Ali accepted the challenge and joined forces with an army of almost 400 colleagues from eight local stores. “We hosted an afternoon tea party for a homeless charity, painted the Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter, renovated school library and playground spaces, and gave community gardens across the city a new lease of life,” she reveals.

Over the week, the teams collected 941 bags of rubbish, planted 858 flowers, plants and trees, and spruced up spaces using 310 litres of paint. “It proved that a little bit of

effort from lots of people can make a big difference,” says Ali. “If everyone did something, even just helping an elderly neighbour with their weekly shop, then we could all make our neighbourhoods a happier place to live.”

If you’ve ever considered volunteering, but assumed it won’t fit around your career or lifestyle, think again. Charities such as the Royal Voluntary Service make it easy to get involved, with flexible roles to suit people who have anything from a few hours a week to a couple of days each month to spare. Ali’s motto? “It’s better to give some time than none at all.”

Not to be underestimated is the magical feelgood factor that comes from doing good deeds for others. “All it takes is one heartfelt ‘thank you’ from someone whose day you’ve brightened to make it worthwhile,” vouches Ali.

Feel inspired? There are countless volunteering opportunities on your doorstep, so get involved in a cause close to your heart and make your community a place to be proud of.

Portrait photographer: Matt Holyoak / Editor: Emma Robertson

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