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Giving is the new black!

Black Friday has become a staple in the British and Western retail calendar and seems no different this year. 

We don’t want to pass too much comment on this. We have issues with the sustainability of this consumer boom and the impact of the production and how this relates to the environment. We also worry that it pushes people away from their local high street and online, benefiting global retailers who do little to benefit our communities. 

That being said, this post is not about Black Friday, but our impetus to try and use this day to communicate giving and community outreach. Businesses should support the communities in which they exist.

As businesses and community groups can attest to across York and much wider, COVID has drawn attention to how businesses can support our incredible essential workers who have bravely supported us all during this pandemic. Those key workers are the very fabric of our country and society and deserve all the praise. For businesses like ours, it is understanding ultimately how we can help and amplify their work. 

During the various lockdowns, our focus was on safeguarding jobs, livelihoods and the businesses at SPARK* but was also about community initiatives such as supporting workers across the city, such as taxi drivers in our SPARK* GO project; donating laptops to two schools - Fishergate Primary and Danesgate; distributing food parcels for vulnerable families and working with the incredible Supper Collective in helping feed our health workers on the frontline. 

SPARK* is a community interest company, and without shareholders, our aim is to channel the profit we make back into community causes - by strengthening the viability, success and reach of our venue, improving our facilities and ensuring groups can use these for free across York and engaging in meaningful community initiatives that make a difference. 

This year, we have a number of Christmas targets to try and hit. These areas are what we want to focus on and try and achieve.

Our aims this year are the following: 

1. Work with partners to raise £10,000 to Martin House Children Hospice, an incredible place that provides family-led care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions. We are taking part in a charitable football match with SPARK staff and businesses pitted against Hog and Apple, a well renowned food catering business. The game is hotting up and is next Sunday 5th December. Thanks so much to those who have got involved. Please support us and donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/clara-mullen-charity-football-match-ha-v-spark?utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1&utm_medium=sms&utm_source=customer 

2. Raise £1,000 for York Street Aid, our partner charity who provide practical help to people on the streets. We raise money each week during our popular Wednesday night Quingo and we have a contactless point that guests can tap and donate £3 when visiting us. More info here: https://www.tworidingscf.org.uk/yorkstreetaid/ 

3. During lockdown we built great relations with our local primary school, Fishergate Primary School, and are so excited to be working with them again. SPARK* is donating 85 new books to support the school as they continue to bounce back from the pandemic. The books will go to the most disadvantaged who sadly have limited resources and books at home, and we are really excited to welcome the pupils to SPARK*, let them eat with us and pick up books before Christmas. We will be sharing this on our social media channels in the coming weeks. 

4. We are continuing to work with Fareshare, our partner who liaise with supermarkets to divert perfectly good food that is destined to landfill to individuals across York and to make sure food is available for those who need it. We are looking to invest in a permanent Fareshare membership, that drops off 125kg of food every week, with a minimum of 3 day shelf life, to allow a much broader distribution of food to those who need it. Our aim is for a four day General Store from Thursday-Sunday. This will be our pet project in early 2022. In the meantime, we will continue to run our bi-weekly Zero Waste Food Market on Thursday (9:30am-10:30am) and Saturday (8:30am-10am) mornings. Fill a bag!

5. To continue to make SPARK* as inclusive as possible to the senior community across York. One of our office holders, York Older People’s Assembly, are working with us in getting the word out, that it’ll be free cups of tea during December for all over 65s, delivered via MELK. It’s a small thing, but ensuring Christmas acts to breakdown social isolation and loneliness is crucial. It is hopefully the first act of many in understanding how to support in ending isolation in the elderly across York. Spread the word on the tea!

We want to continue to ensure SPARK* supports valuable charities and community initiatives that seek to make York a fairer and more inclusive city. 

Black Friday should hopefully be a reflection of how we can give, not just what we can buy. 

Thanks, 

Sam Leach

Director, Spark York C.I.C