By Marcus Leach

Prime Minister David Cameron has presented Waitrose with the latest Big Society Award for its Community Matters Scheme which has now donated £10m to charity.

The innovative scheme allows shoppers to choose three charitable causes each month to receive a £1,000 donation from their store by voting at the check-out.

With more than 270 stores now taking part Waitrose has given £10 million to good causes since the scheme was set up in 2008. Online shoppers are also now able to take part by voting for three national causes to receive a share of £25,000 every three months.

The Prime Minister met with staff and charities who have been involved in the scheme at the Waitrose warehouse in Bracknell today to present the award.

He also heard further plans from Waitrose to invest £4m in local communities in 2012 through Community Matters, as well as two new community initiatives.

The Partner Volunteering scheme will see thousands of Waitrose employees give a total of 75,000 hours of volunteering with local charities during 2012 while ‘Get into’ programmes with The Prince’s Trust will offer nearly a hundred two-week work placements to young people who are not in education or employment and apprenticeship schemes.

Some of the projects to benefit include:

- Bracknell’s Citizens Advice Bureau Bracknell (CAB) — has received donations from Waitrose in recent years for IT equipment and to help keep the CAB open on Fridays

- The Lord’s Taverners (the official Charity of recreational cricket and the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports Charity) — has received a number of donations to help buy mini buses and support the running of the charity

- The Prime Minister also heard plans for the John Lewis Partnership to formally launch a 12-month apprenticeship scheme to give young people an insight into the workings of the business in 2012.

“The Big Society Awards are all about recognising the work that people like Waitrose are doing to bring about what I care about most: a bigger, stronger society. And Community Matters is helping to do exactly that," David Cameron said.

“Those green tokens have already seen £10 Million donated to more than 30 thousand local good causes. I’ve heard first-hand this morning from some of the charities who have benefited — they are the greatest testament to the difference this scheme makes.

“I would like to congratulate Waitrose staff around the country for the contribution they have already made to their local communities and I wish them every success with their new employee volunteering, work placement and apprenticeship programmes over the coming year.”

Accepting the award, Mark Price, Managing Director of Waitrose was clearly delighted.

“We are delighted to have won a Big Society Award, an accolade which means a great deal to us," he said.

"We believe it’s more important than ever that we play an active role in supporting and safeguarding the future of the areas we trade in and the people who live there. It’s also essential that, in these difficult economic times, we give young people opportunities to develop their careers — they are the future of our business, our industry and our country.”

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