Making a difference up and down the country in 2013

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 31 Jan 2014

We’d like to say a big thank you to our customers for all the community and charity work they’ve been involved in this year and we’re delighted we’ve been able to assist some of you. With the New Year just round the corner, we thought it was about time we celebrated what’s been going on up and down the country. Here’s a round up of some of the highlights.

Engage With Your Community

So many of our customers take time out of their day to make a difference to other people’s lives by helping out in their local community, and we wanted to give something back by supporting them with the good work they do.

In September 2013, our engage with your community awards saw us provide up to £5,000 to six customers to help them bring their local community projects to life. We initially chose three winning projects but after receiving so many worthy applications, we decided to extend our support to an additional three projects, leaving it down to our customers to vote for the winners.

The winners…

From outdoor teaching spaces in Bolton to theatre trips in Ayrshire, we’re lending a hand to a range of projects from up and down the UK. The six winners present a truly inspiring picture of our customers’ involvement in their local communities. Here’s an overview of how they’re planning to use the funding to make a difference:

Werneth community centre
Location: Hyde, Cheshire
Nominated by: Jean Sutcliffe

Hosting activities for people of all ages – ranging from Brownies to bingo, the Werneth community centre in Hyde, Cheshire has big plans. Run by a committee of volunteers, the centre now wants to set up a luncheon club for older community members and run IT training for local teenagers. Read Jean’s 60 second interview

Horwich parish CE school
Location: Bolton, Lancashire
Nominated by: Anne Nightingale

Like many Victorian primary schools, playground space is limited at the Horwich primary school in Bolton, Lancashire. But now the kids will be able to enjoy lessons in the open-air at their own allotment thanks to the school winning an award. Read Anne’s 60 second interview

Corfe Mullen Foodbank
Location: Dorset
Nominated by: Heather Booth

Volunteers in Corfe Mullen, Dorset have set up a food bank to support local people who are living in poverty. But they needed additional funding to make sure their food store meets environmental health regulations. Volunteer Heather Booth, will be helping her branch of the national Food Bank network use their award to make sure food is available during the cold winter months. Read Heather’s 60 second interview

Bramley baths
Location: Leeds
Nominated by: Alison Brewster

The last Edwardian swimming baths in Leeds, West Yorkshire will now benefit from a community garden for visitors to enjoy. The baths, which are supported by a strong group of local volunteers, aim to offer people in a deprived area of the city access to affordable health, social and fitness services. Read Alison’s 60 second interview

South Ayrshire Autistic Society
Location: South Ayrshire, Scotland
Nominated by: Lesley Moore

Young people with autism have travelled to see a specially adapted production of the Lion King in Edinburgh thanks to their award. The funding helped them take a 52-seater coach to a special autism-friendly performance that offers trained staff and dedicated quiet and activity areas. Set up by parents themselves, including customer Lesley Moore, the South Ayrshire Autistic Society aims to run as many appropriate trips for members as possible. Read Lesley’s 60 second interview

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Location: Harrogate
Nominated by: Andrew Dodd

Hedge-laying and clearing invasive species are just some of the conservation activities volunteers carry out for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The trust supporter group in Harrogate, North Yorkshire bought their very own hedge cutter and strimmer to help them with their conservation work. Read Andrew’s 60 second interview

Customer Charities of the year

In previous years, a number of customers asked us to lend support to a charity close to their heart. This prompted us to introduce a new initiative – whereby customers could choose which charities we support. So, we launched customer charities of the year for 2014; where customers could nominate any charity of their choice to receive a £2,000 donation and up to £3,000 in matched funding. With floods of heart-warming nominations from all over the country and over 250 customer votes, it was a close call. Here are the three charities we’ll be supporting in 2014:

Millie's Trust
Individual charity of the year 2014
Nominated by Sherry McGuire

Millie's Trust helps to raise awareness in First Aid following the tragic loss of the co-founders' daughter Millie.

Breast Cancer Research Action Group
Regional charity of the year 2014
Nominated by Anne Leng

Breast Cancer Research Action Group raises money to fund vital research to help combat breast cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support
National charity of the year 2014
Nominated by Peter Clarke

Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, medical and financial support to people affected by cancer.

Engage With Your Club

In partnership with Rugby League Cares and the RFL Facilities trust, we held our third and final engage with your club initiative this Summer and it was a roaring success. Set up in 2011, engage with your club was launched to encourage grass root rugby clubs and their communities to join forces and hold volunteering days. From Yorkshire to Swansea, an impressive 56 clubs from across the country held ‘action weekends’ where players, friends, family and their local communities rolled up their sleeves and mucked in to help rejuvenate their club’s facilities.The volunteers took part in all sorts of activities on their quest to transform their local rugby clubs – from mowing the club grounds through to sprucing club walls up with a coat of paint. There were also a few famous faces amongst the helpers including England Coach, Steve McNarmara who took time out from England’s World Cup preparations to lend a hand at his former amateur club Skirlaugh ARLFC in Hull.This year has proven to be the most successful engage with your club to date with around 1,700 volunteers donating 9,000 hours of their free time to take part. It’s all thanks to volunteers in the community clubbing together that grassroots rugby clubs can enjoy better facilities to keep these valuable sports groups alive.

Supporting our customers in 2014

After seeing so many positive outcomes from all of the community and charity work that’s been going on, we wanted to scale up what we’re doing and put even more control in the hands of our customer. So we set up the Engage Foundation – which provide customers with Personal Grants and Community Awards to help them make something better in their life and their community. Are you a customer? Find out more.

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