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What a difference a year makes!

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 19 Jan 2015

It’s officially been a year since we launched the Foundation and boy what a year it’s been! By every measure, the Foundation has exceeded all expectations and we’re absolutely thrilled that it has enabled us to impact the lives of so many of our customers and those around them.

None of this would have been possible without the support and involvement of our customers and their communities. From the development of the idea at our customer forums, to the 75 customers who have helped us to govern how the money has been spent. Not forgetting our online community, who helped us to decide which projects should receive an award. So many people have helped us to breathe life into the Foundation, and we’re so proud of how far it’s come.

So as a thank you to all those who contributed to the success of our first year, and before embarking on year two, we thought it was worth taking a moment to reflect on some of the highlights from 2014.

Personal Grants

Personal Grants are available to customers or their close friends or family for something that would make a real difference to their lives.

Last year, £75,000 was awarded to over 150 customers. From respite breaks, to supporting children with special needs, we’ve been humbled by the number of customers who have reached out to us, and so pleased to have been able to make their lives that little bit better.

Seeing first-hand how a small pot of money can make such a big difference, has reminded us of how much we take for granted. We hope the following stories will give you just a brief insight into how our customers are using their Personal Grants.

Barbara Murray

Barbara-murray.jpeg

Barbara Murray’s caring responsibilities for her son and ex-husband make breaking off from her usual routine extremely difficult. Thanks to a Personal Grant, Barbara has been able to take a much deserved break to Bristol to see her family – something she was unable to do for a number of years. 

Helen & Adam Fernyhough

Adam Fernyhough

After years of suffering, Helen Fernyhough’s ten year old son Adam was finally diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome – a rare condition which causes severe visual perception problems, including sensitivity to bright lights, balance issues and reading difficulties. But Adam and his family still faced a significant hurdle. In order to ease the symptoms, Adam was told he would need diagnostic tests and special corrective glasses – both of which are unavailable on the NHS. Receiving a Personal Grant has meant that Adam can undergo tests at a specialist Irlen facility in Jersey, and his parents can now purchase his special lenses from America.

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts suffers from a restricted dietary condition – eating many everyday foods can cause her unimaginable pain and mental health problems. To combat the issue, Diane must strictly follow FODMAP, a dietary programme which comprises of mainly organic foods, but this was putting a strain on her household budget. Thanks to a Personal Grant from Engage, Diane was able to buy a polytunnel and can now grow her own food from scratch. This has allowed her to cater for her strict nutritional requirements whilst saving some pennies.

Community Awards

Our Community Awards help our customers to improve communities which are close to their heart, in their corner of the world.
Customers nominate projects for an award, then it’s down to the public to decide who wins. We held two public votes in 2014 which saw 58,797 people pledge their support for the community projects they cared about.

In total, £125,000 was paid to 17 community projects across the UK, helping 36,000 community members. Here are just a few of the projects we’ve supported.

Witham Hill Gymnastics Club

Witham Hill gymnastics club

To accommodate for a growth in members, Witham Hill Gymnastics Club moved to bigger premises, but they still needed additional funding to improve the facilities. An accident at the club meant that improving safety was creeping high on the radar, which is why customer Mark Thornton applied for a £25,000 Community Award to install two foam gymnastics pits. As well as providing a safer environment, the pits help to make activities at the club much more accessible to everyone, regardless of their age or ability. 

Farnborough Fins

Farnborough Fins

Serving the community since 1998, Farnborough Fins pool was in danger of closing unless the team could raise the funds to replace their decaying pool.  Thanks to a £25,000 Community Award, the pool which offers swimming lessons and activities to local young people, can now provide a safer and more hygienic changing environment as well as a new hoist, making the pool more accessible to disabled swimmers.

St Mary’s Primary School

St Marys Primary school

Winning a £5,000 Community Award has enabled St Marys Primary school to convert a room into a disabled toilet facility for those children with additional needs. The room which is located near to classrooms will be transformed into a height disabled toilet. As well as a changing bed, the restroom will contain storage space so that important equipment can be kept close to hand.

Supporting our customers in 2015

We’re really passionate about helping our customers to get the most out of their projects, and as part of the award process, we provide guides and tips on how to promote community projects in the local community. Many of our project owners have commented on how useful these have been, and some have had increased support or surprise benefactors off the back of the publicity they’ve gained.
If you have been inspired by these stories and would like to know more about the Foundation you can read more here.

Sadly, our Community Awards are now closed, but they will re-open in Spring this year.  If you have a project that you would like to put forward, then you’ll need to ask a OneFamily customer to nominate you. You can register your interest in the Foundation, and we will keep you informed of any new developments.

We’re thrilled to announce that we are making the Foundation bigger and better, with the intention to distribute £5 million over the next five years.

In addition to Community Awards and Personal Grants, we’ll be creating a whole new set of Foundation strands – so register now to keep in the loop with future developments.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.