Friday, 15 January 2021

Planning a successful D-I-Y Project



Planning a successful D-I-Y Project

More of us than ever are spending our lockdown time tackling those Do-it-Yourself projects that we’ve been thinking about for long enough.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned Do-it-Yourselfer, it can be hugely satisfying to enjoy the results of your handiwork.  Often it can be a great way to save some money as well.

Always keen to help our members to make the most of their money, we’ve put together some top tips to help you to make a success of your project:


Get inspired!

Think about what you are hoping to achieve.   What is your project for?   Do you want to add colour or warmth to your drab living room?   Maybe you’re aiming to make life easier by rearranging your kitchen?  Making extra wardrobe space for your clothes?  Or modernising your bathroom fittings?   Whatever you have in mind, Pinterest or Instagram are good places to look for ideas and inspiration.

Do your research

Before tackling any project, you should take time to gather as much information as possible about it. Read, research and watch tutorials to be better prepared. Look around and see if anyone you know has done anything similar.  If they are enjoying their finished work, they may be happy to share some tips about their experience. 

Set an overall budget for your project

Think how much you can afford.  It’s important not to overstretch yourself, as your enjoyment will be short lived if you end up with huge unexpected bills.  Or if you have to leave it unfinished because you run out of money.   Shop around – look on the internet to get an idea how much things cost and compare different suppliers. Try to cost the whole project out, so that there will be no surprises, before you start buying.   Perhaps a Credit Union Loan could help you by spreading the cost over a reasonable period?

Divide your project into stages

Dividing your DIY work into stages may help you to decide what needs to be done first and how much time you have to do it.  If you are working on a tight budget, it could also help you decide on your priorities.  Working in stages with clear time allocations gives you focus and discipline, aiding you to complete your project in ideal time.  You may need someone to help you with certain tasks, so plan ahead to make sure they’ll be available at the vital time.

Buy some decent tools

You’ll most likely need to buy some tools or equipment.  Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest you can find, as they may not perform to your expectations.  If you are new to DIY, then simple, easy to use tools could be best.   And it might not be such a good idea to use Grandad’s 100 year old tool kit!   The tools may look strong and sturdy but are probably worn and not as sharp or effective as a new set.

Learn how to use your tools and equipment

Be sure to follow the instruction guides, as they contain sound advice on safety and good practice.  For many items, there are handy online tutorials that show you what to do.  Some of the well-known DIY stores have help available both for novices and more experienced hands, both online and in-store.

Make a survey of the job

Before you start knocking walls down, survey the DIY site and make a list of everything that will need doing.  Do you need to move a light switch or socket? Are there any pipes or cables in a wall that you’re going to alter?  Where will you put the furniture and belongings while the room is out of use? Where will you do your sawing, pasting and so on?   Write down your plan of action – step by step – so that you don’t forget any important tasks.

Buy everything you need before you start

Try to buy everything you need at once, otherwise you may have problems if supplies run out.  You might not be able to match up the exact shade of wallpaper or the tiles you selected so carefully may be out of stock, and you may have to pay extra for a small quantity.   It’s not a bad idea to buy a little more than you think you will need, to cover breakages or faulty estimating.  It can be very stressful to run out of materials near the end of the job and have to rush to the shops for a top up. 

Don’t rush it

Finally, although you’ve made a plan and have a good idea of your intended timescale, take care and don’t rush your project.  Hopefully, you’ll have done everything necessary to enjoy working on your project and soon you’ll be able to sit back and savour the fruits of your labour for a long time!


Good luck!

Monday, 21 December 2020

JOHN’S BLOG – DECEMBER 2020




We’ve had an extremely busy autumn season here at HEY Credit Union, so here’s an update for you on what we’ve been up to:

 

OUR THRIFTY CHRISTMAS SAVERS    

This year’s Christmas will be very different for many of us, but one thing won’t have changed.  Ever since 2007, we’ve been helping our members to lock funds away safely for the festive season in our popular Christmas Saver account.  Despite temporarily unlocking the accounts this spring and summer to help those who were impacted by the pandemic, over 1,300 of our members managed to save up £869,644 this time round, and we started paying them out on 2 November.  If you haven’t had a Christmas Saver before, now is the ideal time to start one for 2021.  It’s worth noting that no major bank offers anything like it.


FIRST EVER VIRTUAL AGM A BIG SUCCESS   

A lifetime in the Co-operative Movement has taught me the importance of the Annual General Meeting (AGM), where the members we serve can hold their directors and managers to account, ask challenging questions and cast their votes on various important topics.
   Our traditional December AGM, held in the impressive setting of Hull’s historic Guildhall, is a highlight of my Credit Union year and I know many of our members feel the same.  We were therefore a little nervous about switching to an online alternative this year but, given the rules restricting large gatherings, there was little choice.   We needn’t have worried.   Although the directors and I missed seeing our members in person very much, we had some great feedback from those who logged on to our first ever virtual AGM on 8 December. I was especially pleased that we had members join in from every one of the seven towns where we have a branch, and even from Scotland!

A big thank you to Jackie from the ABCUL Virtual AGM Service, who hosted and administered the meeting superbly! We can thoroughly recommend the service to any credit union planning an AGM. 

 

REVIEW OF THE YEAR  

At an AGM, our directors report to our members on how the past year has gone and set out their plans for the future.   We’ve produced a quick-read summary here of our 2020 Annual Report.

   

COMMUNITY DONATIONS

On moving to a virtual AGM, we decided to donate the funds normally budgeted for the AGM room booking, members’ buffet tea, printed materials and so on, to a selection of organisations who support vulnerable people in the communities we serve.   We were pleased to donate £150 each to:

·        Kingfisher CafĂ©, Bridlington
·        Driffield & Wolds Food Bank
·        Goole Foodbank’s Christmas Toy Appeal
·        The Forge Project, Scunthorpe
·        Shores Community Pantry, Withernsea
·        Beverley Cherry Tree Community Pantry
·        Hull Trades Council Unity Shop Food Bank

 

MEGA LOTTERY DRAW      

HEY Credit Union’s Friendly Folk have made their Grand Christmas Draw and given 48 members an early Christmas present, with prizes totalling £1,750.  The Members’ Lottery is drawn on the second Wednesday every month and you could be among the next batch of prize winners – but only if you’ve signed up to take part.  Tickets cost £1 (deducted from your CU Membership Account each month until you tell us to stop).   At least 60% of the ticket sales are returned to members as prizes over the year, the rest being donated to HEY Credit Union to help with advertising, training and admin.  We’re now taking applications to join our Members’ Lottery fun in 2021 – here is a joining form.


SHORES BECOMES OUR LATEST PAYROLL PARTNER    

The Shores Centre in Withernsea has become the latest in a growing band of employers in our region to offer its workforce our unique Payroll Save & Borrow staff benefit.  Shores employees can now save as they earn, with deposits taken care of effortlessly straight from their pay packet.  It’s a safe and flexible way to put money aside knowing it’s there for sunny holidays or rainy days.  The Shores Centre Chief Executive Jayne Nendick, said: “It’s been a tough year with the pandemic and we’ve all had to be more mindful of our finances, so we are delighted to be working with the Credit Union to help support our teams in making their money go further”.   If you are an employer and would like to find out more about this simple, free wellbeing benefit, please click here or email info@hullandeycu.co.uk.

 

OUR FIRST SOCIAL IMPACT REPORT  

We have recently launched our first ever Social Impact Report.  We’ve always been clear that credit unions have a different purpose from banks and other financial service companies, as they are not run simply to make monetary profits but to make a difference to the lives of their member-customers, and the communities they serve.  In short, they are about financial wellbeing, helping members to afford their lives and be better off as a result.  HEY Credit Union has been around for 21 years, but how much difference has it actually made?   That was what our member-elected directors wanted to find out, when they challenged me to produce this report. 

I hope you will enjoy reading it and please give us some constructive feedback to help us improve future reports.    By reporting on their social impact, credit unions can help to advance the cause of fair, affordable and co-operatively-run financial services, which we are so passionate about.

 

CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR OPENING TIMES    

Remember, we are here for you but our branch opening times will be a little different over the holiday period.  Here are the changes.

 

That’s all for now and for 2020, but I’ll be back with more news next year.   Before I close, though, I’d like to say a big personal “thank you” to our HEY Credit Union staff, volunteers and partners for all their hard work.  They have truly gone the extra mile to help and support our members this year in very difficult circumstances and I am so proud of them.  The kind messages we often receive from members shows that they share my view.   

I hope all readers will have the best possible Christmas, some time for a well-earned rest and be able to look forward to better times to come.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

JOHN’S BLOG – OCTOBER 2020




I am writing these notes soon after our credit union’s year end (30 September) and putting the finishing touches to our draft annual accounts, which have now gone off to the auditors.  It’s been a different kind of year, that’s for sure, but we have made some more progress, thanks to the loyalty of our members and the hard work of our team!

 

MAKING IT EASIER FOR OUR MEMBERS

Long before Covid hit our shores, we were planning some changes to the way we operate, to make it even easier to join, save, borrow, and manage your accounts with us.    Investing to improve our technology systems was a key goal of our 3-year Business Plan 2019-22, and we’ve been busy behind the scenes doing just that!   Here are some improvements we hope Members are now noticing:


1  We’ve replaced the old Members’ Area on the website with our new Web App

Old Members’ Area

New Web App

Not suitable to use on smartphones and tablets

Is easy to use on any device – desk computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone.

Only showed balances correct to the end of the last working day

Shows correct balances on all your CU accounts 24/7

Didn’t let you make withdrawals

Enables same day withdrawals to your designated bank account

Didn’t let you apply for a loan

Apply for a loan at the touch of a button

Didn’t let you send an enquiry, change your payroll deduction or amend personal details

Allows all those

Over 40% of members have registered to use our Web App.  If you haven’t done so already, here’s how.    If you need more help to register or get started, or if you are having problems with the Web App, don’t hesitate to call us on 01482 778753 (M-F) – our friendly team will offer you some kind and patient help to sort it.


2  We’ve introduced a new Online “Join and Borrow” system

Now, when you apply online for a Credit Union Loan, or to become a Saver with HEY Credit Union, you’ll find the application process simpler and speedier.   We’ve introduced:

·       An easier to complete online application form;

·       A more streamlined process for providing supporting information (in many cases you may not need to provide documents at the time of applying);

·       Better feedback by email to let you know the progress of your application (but you must register a valid email address with us to allow this and check your spam folder if you don’t hear back);

·       A secure signing facility for top up or repeat loans;

·       Same day despatch of funds for approved loans to your bank.


3  We now take Loan Applications by telephone

With branches operating in a more restricted way, we wanted to ensure that members who prefer a more personal service were not deterred from applying.  You can call 01482 778753 from 10 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday to apply.

 

BRANCH NEWS

Our branches in Hull, Scunthorpe, Bridlington, Goole and Withernsea are all open again (for times see here), operating in a Covid-safe way.   It’s been lovely to welcome members back into branch as our staff team have missed them.  They also appreciated the kind messages of support that many members sent.

I am happy to announce that Driffield branch will reopen from 8th October, every Thursday from 9.30 am to 12 .30 pm in the Council Offices, Market Walk.   Beverley Cherry Tree branch will also reopen very soon.

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

Loans

We know Christmas will be different this year, with possible restrictions on family gatherings
and many of the festive events that we always look forward to unable to take place.   But I am sure we’ll all do our best to give our families and friends the best possible time.

Here at HEY Credit Union we’re already busy helping our members to plan a wonderful Christmas.  Since the start of September, there’s been a big influx of Loan applications, suggesting that members are anxious to get their Christ
mas shopping sorted much earlier than usual. 

We have a fantastic Refer a Friend Offer to tell you about.  If any Member refers a friend or colleague to apply to us for a Christmas Loan, we’ll enter both of you (Member + Friend) into our super Prize Draw to each win a £50 SHOPPING VOUCHER.

There’s lots of great reasons to Refer a Friend to apply for a Christmas Loan with us, so don’t delay, do them (and yourself) a favour and do it today!

Savings

Our Christmas Saver accounts will be open for withdrawals from 1st November.  From that date, you’ll be able to arrange transfers to bank direct via the Web App too.   Our thrifty members have once again saved up nearly £1 million in this popular account. Together, we’ve got Christmas sorted!

 

OUR MEMBER SURVEY

Thank you to all members who kindly gave us feedback in our 2020 Member Survey.  While the number of replies was much lower than in 2019 (probably you had other things to think about!), their tone was just as encouraging.   Here are some highlights:

·    98% said they are likely to recommend HEY Credit Union to people they know;
·       78% thought it important that HEY Credit Union has a branch presence in various parts of our region;
·       72% said Covid hadn’t impacted very much on their interaction with us.
·       The feeling that we are ethical, local, friendly and different from corporate banks came over strongly.

You can read a summary of responses here.

I have replied personally to those members who raised specific queries or concerns.  One wrote back to express surprise that we actually read their comments!   Well, that’s the Credit Union difference.  As member-owners we always value your feedback and try to help if we can.

 

CHILD TRUST FUNDS START MATURING

The Government gave children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 money in a Child Trust Fund (CTF) to encourage them to save for the future.  

Those turning 18 up before 31 August 2021 can now start to access their CTF cash.  As one of the CTF providers, with over 220 accounts and £200,000 saved, we’ve already paid out our first two!   We are proud to have helped the young people in our region to start their adult life with some savings to support their ambitions.

 

SCHOOL BANKS ON HOLD

Unfortunately, the restrictions on volunteers entering schools and handling cash mean that we’re unable to operate any Pennies 2 Pounds School Banks for the foreseeable future.   We’ve asked the schools to publicise alternative ways for families to deposit, withdraw and contact us.  

You can pay into Junior Saver accounts direct from your bank, by standing order or in branch.  Contact our friendly team for bank details.

 

COULD YOU BE A HEY CREDIT UNION DIRECTOR?

We are looking for more directors to join our Board.  It’s a voluntary role that would appeal to anyone who is passionate about co-operative/credit union values, with some time and determination to help us build on our success.  We’re particularly keen to hear from people with skills/experience in technology, human resources and marketing.  You wouldn’t have to live or work near our Hull base, as meetings are now held by video/tele-conference.   Take a look at our director profile here and/or contact me for an informal chat (info@hullandeycu.co.uk) – you could make all the difference!

 

OUR AGM WILL BE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR

We’ll be holding our Members’ AGM 2020 on Tuesday 8th December at 5.45 pm.  It will be a great opportunity for members to find out how we’ve been doing this year and learn about our exciting plans for the future.  Due to restrictions on face to face meetings this year, this will be our first ever online AGM!  We will be doing our very best to make it as accessible as possible for our members, so please keep the date free and watch out for news – in early November - of how to register. 

 

COUNCIL STAFF SAVE AS THEY EARN

Recently I recorded a podcast for the staff at East Riding of Yorkshire Council telling them of the benefits of joining our Save as You Earn scheme.

Hundreds of staff at our four local authorities already save with us direct from their pay, and this year they’ve increased their savings by 15% on average.  Podcasts are a modern and popular way of conveying information to their staff.  If any other employer would like us to record one, please get in touch.

 

INTERNATIONAL CREDIT UNION DAY

On Thursday 15th October we’ll be joining with our credit union friends all over the world to celebrate International Credit Union Day.  It’s a day to reflect on the proud history of our Credit Union Movement, promote all that it has achieved, recognise the hard work of credit unionists and celebrate the massive difference it has made to the financial wellbeing of people and families everywhere.    

Keep an eye on our social media pages that day – there’ll be some surprises for our members! 

 

That’s about it, until next time – keep safe and well and don’t forget to Refer a Friend!



Wednesday, 1 July 2020

JOHN’S BLOG – JUNE / JULY 2020




In my last blog, I was cheerily looking forward to the brighter days of spring and summer, with all the outdoor activities and events they bring.  Whatever happened?

 

WHAT A YEAR!

2020 has turned out to be a year like no other.  The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged us all like never before and, for many, turned the world upside down.  To our members, we sincerely hope you have kept safe and coped as well as possible with life under lockdown.   We’ve been thinking of you and your loved ones and want you to know that we are still here to support you. 

We are all so grateful to the many NHS workers, carers, other key workers and community volunteers who have gone “above and beyond” to look after us and provide those shielding and self-isolating with friendly contact and access to essential supplies. Let’s hope the crisis prompts a rethink of our national priorities, so that those who serve in such vital ways are properly valued and rewarded.

Credit Unions were classed as providing “essential financial services” and your directors, managers and staff have all been 100% focused on maintaining the friendly, reliable service members are used to.  We’ve changed lots of ways we work, switched more to online and telephone working, brought in new electronic systems and even introduced a special Key Worker Loan deal with preferential rate.  

We would like to thank our local authorities for their business support and Fair4All Finance who generously opened their Covid-19 Resilience Fund, our trade association ABCUL for providing ready advice and learning opportunities, and our financial regulators for their understanding.   


OUR VIRTUAL BOARD 

During lockdown our directors were unable to meet face-to-face.  But their important oversight and governance was still needed.  So technology came to our aid and May’s Board meeting - our first by video conference* using GotoMeeting - was one of our best ever, with plenty of lively discussions and thoughtful questions.  While directors will want to meet up now and then, virtual meetings could help to bring in new directors from the far reaches of our region, knowing they can play their part effectively without excessive travel.

(* previously Skype allowed directors to join us from holiday venues when necessary).   


WELCOME BACK! 

Having done our risk assessment and put in place measures to protect our members and staff team, we were delighted to reopen Hull, Bridlington, Goole and Scunthorpe branches from Monday 15 June.  We hope members will understand why branch life isn’t quite like before:

  • Opening times are restricted;
  • Only one member can come in at a time (or same family group);
  • Cash transaction are limited to £100 per day (no coins);
  • Loan forms can be collected but not completed in branch;
  • Hand sanitiser is available for and we are cleaning throughout the day.

We are planning to reopen Withernsea branch on Monday 6th July.

Remember we can carry out most member requests by phoneonline or via our web app.

We’re also planning to restart our Local Member Groups very soon, but meeting in a different way!   Watch for news. 

 

OUR 21st ANNIVERSARY 

HEY Credit Union turned 21 on the 10th June 2020.  A big birthday celebration, like last year’s, just wasn’t possible.  Instead we ran four prize draws on our social media which generated hundreds of entries.   For those of us who’ve been with HEY for many years and seen at first hand both its growing pains and achievements, anniversaries provide an opportunity to reflect on the impact made.  Did you know, that since we began:

  • We’ve issued 59,290 loans value £40,977,142;
  • We’ve helped people in our Region save well over £20 million in interest payments;
  • We’ve shared £1.1 million with our members as Dividend on their savings;
  • We’ve partnered with lots of employers to offer a valued Payroll Save & Borrow staff benefit;
  • We’ve created 22 jobs for local people and given 100+ life skills through volunteering.


IT’S CO-OPERATIVES FORTNIGHT

From 22 June to 5 July, Co-operatives Fortnight is our chance to celebrate being part of the UK’s co-op sector.   Owned and run by their members, co-ops don’t exist to make money for institutional investors or distant shareholders, but to serve people like you and me – customers, employees, residents, farmers, artists, taxi drivers, credit union savers and borrowers.   By coming together in co-ops, members can influence the way business is done, making sure the ethics they hold dear are upheld.   

The latest Co-op Economy report reveals that:

  • HEY Credit Union is one of 7,063 independent co-operatives, across the UK.
  • Together they employ 241,714 people, have over 14 million members and contribute £38.2 billion a year to the British economy.  
  • 76% of co-op start-ups are still flourishing after the difficult first five years.  But just 42% of new companies make it through to the end of year five.

Wouldn’t it be great if co-operative values were applied to more areas of national life?  By supporting and getting involved in co-ops we can all help to make the case.  

#KeepCooperating 


SUPPORTING OUR ARMED FORCES COMMUNITY 

Our Board of Directors recently agreed to HEY Credit Union becoming a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant.  This is a promise made by employers and others to support the Armed Forces Community, recognising the value serving personnel, both regular and reservists, veterans and military families contribute to our country. 

On 24 June, during Armed Forces Week, we joined in a virtual signing ceremony, making our pledge along with four other organisations in the Yorkshire and the Humber Region.  

In more normal times we hope to have a presence at Armed Forces Day events and to support the proposed new Hull Veterans’ Village by providing a volunteer-run Credit Union contact point on site for residents.

 

MEMBER FEEDBACK 

We’ve been thrilled with the kind feedback that we’ve received recently on Trust Pilot, Google and Facebook.  We’d like to encourage all members to consider posting a review when we have given good service, as this is a great way to encourage more to join.

And do watch out for our annual Member Survey – coming to your inbox very soon.  We’ll be asking you to comment on our services and also share your thoughts on the way forward, in light of Covid-19.  Please do take a few minutes to respond.

 

CLOSURE OF OLD MEMBER LOG IN AREA 

Now that our Web App is running smoothly (around 4,000 members are registered and use it), we have no use for the old Member Log in Area on our website.  The Web App gives much more timely information about members’ accounts and has more features, including the ability to send funds transfers (except for Community Accounts).  We are therefore closing the old Member Area from the end of June.  

If you haven’t already registered for the Web App, here’s how.  

If you have any problems getting started, just call us on 01482 778753 (Mon-Fri 10-4).

 

Until next time, keep safe everyone and be kind to one another...