Tea parties were held by customers who had previously received community funding as part of the mutual’s Engage with your Community initiative, the precursor to the Foundation. Customer involvement has been integral in shaping the Foundation and was recognised at the tea parties with presentation of a special Foundation stone.
Customers holding tea parties included Hillary from Cambridge, who secured funding for a bereavement support line; Heather from Dorset, who set up a food bank to help her local community; and Janet from Sandwell, who formed a special choir to offer respite for unpaid carers looking after a family member.
Engage Mutual chief executive, Peter Burrows, said, “The Engage Foundation is what being part of a mutual should be about – the benefits of belonging. We know that our products and services add to our customers’ financial security, but we are going a step further and sharing our success as a mutual with our customers. The £1m is for our customers of today, and of tomorrow, and is exclusively for their benefit.”
The Engage Foundation will provide £25,000 each for two community projects, and £5,000 each for 15 smaller projects each year, directly benefiting the communities in which customers live.
The Foundation will also provide a helping hand to 150 customers on an annual basis, with a personal grant of up to £500 to help the customers themselves, or a family member. It might, in cases of hardship, be used to replace a much-needed broken washing machine, fix a leaky roof, assist with school uniform costs, or to get someone back on track by helping them learn a new skill, or gain a qualification.
The Foundation is possible thanks to the ongoing success and financial strength of the mutual. Money which is surplus to that required to fulfil its long-term obligations to customers, can be made available for their use and benefit.
All of the mutual’s 500,000 customers are eligible, to apply they must visit the Engage Customer Foundation website and complete the application process.