Marks & Start gives the opportunity of work experience to people of different ages and walks of life, helping them get ready to access the world of work.

We’ve been working with M&S since 2004 on the scheme, which was designed to support people who face barriers getting into work including single parents as one of their core groups.

The programme provides in-house training by Gingerbread and practical work experience in M&S stores across the country.

Marks and Start logo

We recognise the importance single parents place on giving time to bringing up their children and the challenges of combining parenting with paid work. We also know that, for many, employment is a positive choice and their best chance of a better future for themselves and their children. This programme is available for single parents who want to get back into work.

What you get on the Marks & Start course

Three days’ work preparation training:

  • Confidence building
  • Employability skills
  • Communication skills
  • Work-life balance
  • Information about childcare options
  • Gingerbread membership included.


  • Induction training with Marks & Spencer
  • Two-week work experience placements, flexible, to fit around school hours
  • Buddies – support during placements for single parents
  • Meals, travel costs and uniform provided
  • Support – each participant will have access to support during and after their placement, including a telephone helpline.

Benefits of the Marks & Start course

  • Our programme will help single parents make an informed decision about whether returning to work is right for them
  • It will also prepare single parents for the world of work and refer them to jobs or other training opportunities
  • Since 2004, we’ve had more than 5,000 Marks & Start parents go through the programme – and around half go onto secure a job as a result of the programme

Who can take part?

Single parents who:

  • Have children of school age or younger,
  • Have been out of the job market and are actively considering returning to work.
  • Are eligible to work in the UK and would be subject to Marks & Spencer selection criteria.

Where can I attend a Marks & Start course?

  • Greater London
  • Northwest (Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire)
  • Wales (Cardiff & Newport, Swansea & Neath, Merthyr & Ebbw Vale).

When is the course running?

Running from September 2017 to 2021. Register your interest now to secure a place.

Join the Marks & Start training course

Contact us via our form. A member of our team will be in touch with you to talk you through the next steps. You can also call us to register your interest or to discuss what might be suitable for you:

  • +44 (0) 800 652 3166 (London)
  • +44 (0) 2920 471900 (Wales)
  • +44 (0) 161 636 7540 (Northwest).
  • About you

  • Your name * REQUIRED
  • Where are you based? * REQUIRED
  • Our programmes only currently run in these two areas. If you live elsewhere in the UK, we're really sorry - we hope we can expand soon!
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  • Your interests

  • Which Gingerbread courses are you interested in? * REQUIRED
    You can select more than one. We'll contact you to discuss how they could help you.
  • Help us find the right programme for you

  • Some of our programmes are tailored to participants of certain ages. Let us know your date of birth so we can match you to the right courses and support.
  • Let us know your postcode so we can find a course running near you. We don't need the rest of your address.
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