Friday 23rd April 2021 marks our 180th anniversary and there's a real air of excitement across the Society as we celebrate the milestone!
Alongside supporting our communities and fundraising for NHS Charities Together as part of our celebrations, this anniversary has also provided an opportunity to give real thought to Wesleyan's journey so far, as well as to the future.
Reflecting on Wesleyan's 180th anniversary, Mario Mazzocchi, Group Chief Executive, said: "As a mutual, we are very proud to have been able to support communities and customers across so many years, and we are particularly privileged to have been able to support you throughout the Covid pandemic with all the amazing work that you've been doing across 2020 and 2021.
"A big thank you - thank you for being with us, thank you for being our customers - I look forward to working together for many years to come."
Wesleyan was established in Birmingham during the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, with the initial purpose of helping people to overcome financial problems stemming from the first industrial revolution.
On this day in 1841, members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Birmingham gathered in a small room next to the chapel on Cherry Street, and it's here that our mutual status was created.
Our mutual status is as important to us today as it was to our founders. As a mutual, we don't have shareholders, so our focus is entirely on our members and customers - this is why 'we are all about you'.
Now, 180 years later, our head office remains in Birmingham city centre, with the Society remaining incredibly proud of its Midlands heritage, long-term financial strength and the creation of brighter financial futures for some of society's most trusted professions, as well as its strong culture of giving back.
Wild in Art's 'Gratitude' installation
As part of our 180th celebration - and to say thank you to the key workers who continue to work tirelessly during Covid-19 - we are delighted to be the Birmingham location sponsor for 'Gratitude', which will be a spectacular art installation led by Wild in Art.
Gratitude will launch in Birmingham in August 2021, and this free-to-visit tour will then continue across Manchester, Edinburgh and London. With 49 uniquely painted sculptures taking on the human form, this is a fantastic collaboration between artists and sponsoring businesses to thank every single key worker for their hard work, resilience and commitment to keeping our society safe and well.
Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and co-founder of Wild in Art said: "We are absolutely delighted to be announcing Wesleyan as our next location sponsor for Gratitude and to be continuing our relationship with them in order to celebrate our dedicated key workers after such a challenging time."
Once Gratitude has completed its tour, the sculptures will be auctioned off in the autumn, with substantial proceeds being donated to NHS Charities Together, which is a fantastic charity that supports the NHS, including its hospitals, ambulance services, mental health care providers and vital partnerships.
As part of this sponsorship, we'd love to hear from you! Voting is now open (and will remain open until Sunday 2nd May) for Gratitude Hero nominations.
The winning nomination will see an illustrated image of the Hero (either a teacher or NHS worker) being painted onto one of the Gratitude sculptures. The Hero's name, story and dedication to caring will be brought to life as part of this magnificent project.
You can find out more about how to nominate your Gratitude Hero here.
We can't wait to see the installation in all of its glory and we truly believe it will be a fantastic tribute to every key worker.
As part of the Society's wellbeing support package to help our customers through the daily pressures of Covid-19, we launched 'Wesleyan Wellbeing' in 2020.
A year later, we are delighted to share that customers and members can continue to access this online 24/7 healthcare and wellbeing support hub until June 2021.
You can use Wesleyan Wellbeing at any time of day or night, which gives you the flexibility to prioritise your own mental health and wellbeing at a time that best suits you and your schedule.
The Wesleyan Foundation
Since its launch three years ago, the Wesleyan Foundation has awarded a total of three million pounds to good causes across the UK.
These donations include £50,000 to the Titan Partnership, a Birmingham-based charity that has been tackling tech-poverty within schools during the pandemic.
In total, the Wesleyan Foundation has now awarded more than 500 grants to charities, community groups and social enterprise.
Nathan Wallis, Chief of Staff at Wesleyan, shared that: "We are delighted to reach our £3-million landmark and it's great working with our customers to understand and support the causes they hold close to their hearts. As a mutual, we want to make a difference for our customers and for our communities."
Find out more about the Wesleyan Foundation, including how to apply for funding.
Internally, we also have lots of exciting activities that have been taking place over the last week to raise funds for NHS Charities Together, including a 180th anniversary bake off, a company-wide charity auction and Richard Harrison (Chief Distribution Officer) and David Stewart's (Chief Operating Officer) mammoth 180-mile sponsored bike ride that will finish at our Birmingham head office.
A fundraising page for our 180th anniversary has been created, and all funds will go to NHS Charities Together - a cause close to all of our hearts.
As part of our 180th celebration, we will also be sharing stories, videos and photos across our social media channels using #Wesleyan180 - keep your eyes on the hashtag for even more updates from across Wesleyan in the days and weeks ahead.
From all of us here at Wesleyan, we want to extend another huge thank you to every customer for trusting us to protect their financial health over the last 180 years - here's to another 180!