Customers reap the rewards of mutuality

Posted in: Foundation Last updated: 24 Jul 2014

From personal grants to significant community funding, customers of Yorkshire-based Engage Mutual are already reaping the rewards of belonging to the mutual following the launch of the Engage Foundation earlier this year.

The Foundation, an exclusive customer benefit, has already provided 60 customers with a ‘helping hand’ personal grant of £500, while the recipients of two £25,000 and eight £5,000 community awards have just been announced following an online poll, which attracted more than 50,000 votes.

The successful projects to receive a community award of up to £25,000 are Farnborough Fins, a community swimming club in Surrey which runs on a not-for-profit basis and is used by more than 1,200 children every week. The club will use the award to help towards essential refurbishing of the pool building, and increase disability access. Without funding the pool would have been forced to close this summer.

The second winner is Witham Hill Gymnastics Club in Lincoln, which plans to create a specialist foam filled dismount pit to allow gymnasts to practise safely. Demand for the club has grown and the community resource is open weekday evenings and throughout the weekend, providing valuable training in gymnastics, and in the process helping young girls and boys develop self-esteem.

A further eight community award winners across the UK have won funding of up to £5,000, including a sensory garden in Belfast, a community pool in Humberside, a dementia project in Lanarkshire, a sensory room in Manchester, and a specialist disabled swing in a Cheshire school.

The other recipients are a community garden in North Yorkshire, a not-for-profit community enterprise which provide arts, crafts, health and wellbeing activities and social events for people in Clackmannanshire, and a sick children’s trust in Cambridgeshire.

Engage Mutual chief executive Peter Burrows said: “We are owned by our customers and we wanted to enable them to benefit from the financial success of their business.

"The Engage Foundation was established following consultation with our customers and we are thrilled with their response. So many have expressed their support and got involved, embracing the opportunity to benefit from funding on both a personal and community basis. Community Award applicants have demonstrated incredible energy and commitment in championing local causes to create something better for themselves and others."

He added, “It’s heart-warming to see how by pooling our customers’ resources, we can assist them to make a lasting and positive impact on themselves and others in their local communities.”

To-date 60 personal grants have helped customers in a number of ways, from the installation of safety handrails and replacing a badly fitting front door, to providing a respite break for a family carer or the purchase of a much needed mobility scooter.

Another recipient is a much loved child minder, Rachael Hill from Ashton-Under-Lyne. Rachael has dedicated her life to helping the children in her local community, and is passionate about supporting their learning and development.

A personal grant from Engage Mutual will allow her to undertake a special course where she will to gain the skills and understanding she needs to teach the children she looks after about the great outdoors. It will cover a number of activities including environmental art, team games and fire building – activities she previously didn’t have the confidence or knowledge to do with the children.

A further 90 personal grants will be awarded in 2014 while seven more £5,000 community awards will be available in the second half of the year.

An exclusive customer benefit, the £1 million Engage Foundation is designed to directly benefit customers and their communities, and since launching in January has seen more than 1,000 applications for a personal grant or community award.