Dementia is the biggest threat facing humanity today. In the UK alone 850,000 people are currently affected by the condition, at a cost of £26 billion a year. Around the world it affects 35 million people and the global cost is a staggering £500 billion.
It is the only major killer disease that is claiming increasing numbers of victims each year and, if nothing is done, half of all children born in the UK today will go on to develop it.
To address this crisis, Iceland has been raising funds to find a cure for dementia since 2011, when we launched a three-year charity partnership that enabled us to donate more than £3.2 million to Alzheimer’s Research UK. Our initiatives included challenging Iceland expeditions to the summit of Everest and the South Pole, in addition to fundraising by our colleagues and customers in the UK.
In 2015 we launched a new charity partnership with UCL Dementia Research, with a pledge to raise a total of £10 million over three years through the sale of single-use carrier bags in Iceland stores in England, Scotland and Wales, and the fundraising efforts of our colleagues, customers and suppliers. In January 2017 we made an initial donation of £3 million to UCL Dementia Research. In addition to the proceeds of carrier bag sales this included contributions from staff and customer fundraising during our August 2016 charity week, our record-breaking 2016 Charity Golf Classic, and a stunning Dementia Challenge Ball held at the home of our Founder & CEO Malcolm Walker.
Iceland also saw the introduction of the 5p charge for single-use carrier bags in England in October 2015 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for retailers to use this huge charity windfall to make a life-changing difference for everyone.
Our Founder & CEO Malcolm Walker accordingly called for the support of other retailers to help fund the development of a new world class UK Dementia Research Institute with the aim of meeting the challenge set by David Cameron and the G8 to identify a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025. The result was the UCL Dementia Retail Partnership, a unique coalition of deadly business rivals united in a common cause.
We were joined at the launch of the campaign by Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose. Other retailers including HSS Hire, WH Smith, Booths, Poundland and Farmfoods have since pledged their support, and we hope that more will join us.
In its first year the UCL Dementia Retail Partnership raised a staggering £10 million for UCL Dementia Research – equivalent to the sale of around 200 million carrier bags.
All proceeds in England, Wales and Scotland from carrier bag charges (after VAT) will go to the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation. In Northern Ireland proceeds go directly to DAERA to fund local environmental projects.