Children helping to create a sensory garden in Harrogate after receiving a £5k grant from Engage Mutual

Harrogate’s Engage Mutual sweeps the board at the 2014 Peer Awards for Excellence

24 September 2014

Harrogate-based Engage Mutual’s unique £1 million customer benefit fund, The Engage Foundation, has won four awards at the prestigious 2014 Peer Awards for Excellence , beating entries from international blue chip companies.

The mutual launched the Foundation in January and is making £1m available over five years through the Foundation, exclusively for customers.

It won four Peer Awards for Excellence , the largest number of awards won by any of the nominees, including Customer Engagement, Voice of the Customer, overall-winner of the Financial Services Sector and the overall ‘Impact’ award.

Engage was up against major financial services brands including RBS and Capital One, as well as companies such as British Airways, Sainsbury’s and Primark at the ceremony in London earlier this week.

CEO Peter Burrows said: It is fantastic to get this recognition when the Engage Foundation is not yet even a year old, and it’s a testament to the hard work and forward-thinking of the team here at Engage, as well as the great ideas provided by our customers themselves.

Our aim was to create a real way that a mutual can share its success with its customer owners. The Foundation provides funding that allows our customers to do fantastic things in their local communities, or to benefit directly themselves in times of hardship.

Thousands of the mutual’s half a million customers have already got involved in the scheme. The Foundation gives financial assistance grants of up to £500, and makes awards of £5,000 and £25,000 for customer nominated community projects.

In 2014, 150 customers across the UK will receive personal grants and £125,000 will go towards community schemes ranging from a project to help with cognitive impairment for Alzheimer sufferers and others, to a special sensory room for a terminally ill child, enabling her to stay on in school.

Harrogate-based Woodlands Community Group is one of the recipients and has been awarded £5k funding to transform a piece of land into a sensory garden for the community to enjoy.

The community award will be used to create a special sensory garden on land which belongs to Woodlands Methodist Church. It will include plants of different textures, colours and scents and will be a place for people to relax, reflect and experience nature with all of their senses.

Peter said: By the end of 2014 we expect to have positively impacted the lives of over 20,000 people across the UK, by supporting our customers personally and also by enabling them to deliver initiatives in their local areas. The fact that we are doing this for our customers is reward in itself, but to have the recognition of our peers is the icing on the cake.

Peer Award entrants presented their nominated initiatives at an all-day conference. In true peer-to-peer collaborative style, the winners were then voted on by every conference attendee on the day.

Engage Mutual recently announced its board had made a formal recommendation that the Society merges with Family Investments to form one of the UK’s largest mutual insurers with over two million customers.

Engage has ensured that should the transaction proceed, the future of the Engage Foundation would continue. The merged business intends to commit £5m over five years, which would allow the Foundation to expand significantly.

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