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...


Tuesday, 10 March 2020

FEBRUARY / MARCH 2020



In the first two months of 2020, we’re delighted to have welcomed 311 new members into our Credit Union Family.  We aim to provide them with a great experience as mutual owners of our financial co-operative.   What else have we been doing?


FINANCIAL WELLBEING STARTS AT WORK
We’re busy reaching out to employers in the Humber Region to ask them to consider becoming a Credit Union Payroll Partner.   For over 20 years, we have been helping employers large and small to offer their workers a regular deduction from their wage or salary for saving deposits and loan repayments with HEY Credit Union.  It’s a valued staff wellbeing benefit that comes at no direct cost to the employer.

Research shows that it’s a very effective way to reduce absenteeism caused by money worries, have a more productive workforce and demonstrate social responsibility to the community.   Having some savings tucked away for a rainy day builds financial resilience and payroll deduction recognises that the best way to catch a savings habit is to save automatically when we get paid.

In January, we launched our latest payroll partnership at ResQ, a major employer in Hull city centre.  We often visit our payroll partners’ workplaces to run staff roadshows, information stands in canteen or foyer and sign up new members.  In March, we’ll be at DWP offices in Washington, Co. Durham and Leeds, and County Hall, Beverley, the HQ of East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

If you are an employer, why not get in touch?  We’d love to provide a scheme for your staff.  It really is simple to operate, as we look after all the administration. Find out more. Call John on 01482 778753 or email info@hullandeycu.co.uk
 
Employees:  Doesn’t your employer offer Credit Union payroll deduction yet?   Email info@hullandeycu.co.uk to suggest an employer and if they sign up with us, we’ll pay you a reward of £100.


THE BANKS ARE TAKING MORE INTEREST
This week one of our members told us they had enquired at their High Street Bank about a loan, only to be advised to pay off their existing loan with us first because “having a Credit Union Loan would negatively affect their credit score”.  This is complete nonsense – the bank adviser should have known better – any loan that’s being repaid correctly, on time, can’t make your credit score worse, quite the opposite in fact. 

While it’s disappointing that some banks misrepresent the work of credit unions in this way, there is another way of looking at it.   Maybe our success and the impact we are making in our communities is causing the banks to take more interest these days?

We would also urge members looking to borrow for a special project to always get a quote from us first.  Often we can beat the rates charged by the banks – check out our loan calculator - see if we could save you some money.


WILL YOU BE PAYING MORE FOR AN OVERDRAFT?
From April 2020 bank overdraft charges are being simplified. Instead of daily fees, plus interest and other fees, there will be just one single interest rate on overdrafts, regardless of whether they are arranged or unplanned overdrafts.   Therefore, if you occasionally go overdrawn (where you have not arranged an overdraft) but soon return to a positive balance, you are likely to only pay a very small amount if at all. The changes will mean that you will be paying less for an overdraft.

But, with most banks set to increase the interest rate to around 40% (APR), those with large overdrafts may end up paying three times the amount that they pay now – particularly if the overdraft is not reduced by frequent large repayments.  With higher interest rates, many may find that they stay overdrawn for longer and can only meet minimum payments.  Consistently only making minimum repayments may affect your credit file, while increasing your level of ongoing debt.

A cheaper alternative?
Overdrafts should only be used for short-term borrowing or to cope with emergencies.  If you are one of our Payroll Members, you may like to consider our Flexi Credit.  You can apply for a credit facility of £1,000 or £2,000 which, if granted, sits on your account, without charge - ready to be used in an emergency.  When drawn down, you pay back £40 per month for £1,000 or £80 per month for £2,000 and the rate we charge is 19.6% APR – less than half that proposed by the banks.  It could be a cheaper option.  Find out more.



AROUND OUR REGION
Withernsea now has a Members’ Group
It was a great pleasure to attend the launch of our latest Local Members’ Group in The Shores at Withernsea on Tuesday 3rd March.  15 members turned out, including the Town Mayor, Councillor Terry Dagnall.  Members enjoyed a Know Your Credit Union Quiz, learnt our latest product news and the progress of our expansion project, funded by Withernsea Big Local Trust.  We also consulted members about plans for some HEY Credit Union promotional gifts to use at events and updated them on our Charity of the Year.   The group looks forward to meeting again in June and September.  

Beverley Cherry Tree Centre
For over 20 years there’s been a Credit Union branch at the Cherry Tree Centre.  Thanks to the enthusiasm of Centre Manager Jo Ramsay and her team, it’s seen a recent upsurge in business, after advertising its presence more pro-actively around the estate, and extending access times from one afternoon to five days a week.  We’ve installed a smart new Credit Union sign over the front door so that the local community knows where to find us.  And it seems to be working!

Goole Members’ Group
The Group visited the nearby town of Snaith for its January meeting and enjoyed a warm welcome from our friends at Eadon Place Residents Group.  Members were pleased to learn that, following relocation of the branch office, membership of the Goole branch has greatly increased, to 1,117.  They also discussed options for fund raising in 2020 and decided to continued supporting Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the HEY Goole Toy Appeal.  A fun quiz and prize draw rounded off a lovely evening.

Flooding in Snaith
Shortly after the Goole Group met, sadly Snaith and surrounding villages, where we have lots of members, suffered terrible flooding, and our thoughts are with all the residents affected.  On the positive side, the way the community rallied round in mutual support was very moving and I am proud of our branch team who organised a raffle, generously supported by local traders, and an Easter Egg drop to provide some seasonal cheer for the affected families.


OUR CHARITY OF THE YEAR 2019
We’re proud that our members, staff and volunteers raised £1,331.71 to support the work of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.   They provide a lifesaving rapid response emergency service to 5 million people across 4 million acres of Yorkshire and the Humber, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Operating two helicopters, based at Wakefield and Thirsk, they attend around five missions every day.  

As our Credit Union covers a vast rural area where road transport can be slow and difficult, it’s hardly surprising that we know of our own Members whose lives have been saved by the intervention of the bright yellow helicopter and its capable crew.  It is strange that such a vital service, in this day and age, must rely on charitable donations to keep airborne, but sadly this is the case.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance have warmly thanked everyone at HEY Credit Union for their kind donations.


 HEY GOOLE ‘WALK ALL OVER CANCER’ CHALLENGE
Jo (Goole Branch) and I are walking 10,000 steps every day through the month of March to raise funds for Cancer Research.  If anyone would like to sponsor us, here’s a link. We would really appreciate your support.




SOCIAL MEDIA 10TH ANNIVERSARY 

Our HEY Credit Union Facebook page is 10 years old on 11 March.  It’s come a long way since our Marketing Officer, Melisa, created it in 2010.   Back then, our Bridlington branch had just moved to Prospect Street and total members’ savings had topped £4 million.  We were one of the first credit unions to use social media but today most organisations do so.    Recently we passed the 2,000 Likes milestone and our 10th anniversary competition had 636 entries!



SPRING IS ON ITS WAY
Spring is just around the corner – time to get busy with those home and garden improvements, maybe invest in a new car or caravan, or book a special holiday?  Whatever your plans, don’t forget to give us a chance to quote you for an award-winning Credit Union Loan!


Whether you are a member who pops into a branch or talks to us online, we hope to hear from you very soon… 




Monday, 20 January 2020

JOHN’S BLOG – JANUARY 2020

NEW YEAR MONEY GOALS


With the expensive festive season now behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at our finances and make 2020 the year we finally take the stress out of managing our money.

Here at HEY Credit Union, we’ve developed a set of New Year Money Goals to help you get into some good money habits that will really make a difference:

Goal 1 – Become a Member, save regularly and earn your share of our annual Dividend

You may already be one of HEY Credit Union’s 15,000 Members.  If not, it’s easy to join, by going online or visiting one of our branches. There’s no joining fee.


But once a Member, how can you get into the habit of saving regularly?   Here are some quick ideas:
·       Don’t assume that you won’t have enough money left at the end of the week/month to save.  Start off with a really small amount, and then build up later.  The amount doesn’t matter; putting it out of reach does! 
·       Have a goal in mind, a small target that you’ll be able to achieve, to set you going.  It might be tickets for a show, a new outfit or a night away.  Work out how much you need and when. On our HEY Credit Union App there’s a Savings Goal feature.  You can set a goal (££ and time period) and the App lets you see how you are progressing towards it.
·       Put aside a particular coin (such as 5ps, 20ps or £2s) in a jar.  You’ll be amazed how quickly the savings build up.
·       Challenge the family to save with you.  Make it fun – allow a monthly treat!
·       If you know how much you can afford to save, set up a standing order to pay into your CU savings just after you’ve been paid.  If you can’t see the money in your bank, you won’t spend it.
·       Once you’ve achieved your goal, don’t close your account.  Now you’re in the habit, keep on saving for something else.

It’s never too late, or too early, to start saving.  And we’ll reward you with our annual profit-sharing bonus Dividend just before Christmas.  In 2019 we paid out nearly £100,000 to our saver members!

Goal 2 – Save up for Christmas, and earn a Bonus

Christmas can be costly, with lots of spending all at once – presents, festive food and drink, parties and holiday breaks. Wouldn’t it make sense to plan ahead, so that the cost is spread over the full year?


Here at HEYCU, our popular Christmas Saver account offers the ideal way:  
·       You can save as much or as little as you like, but your savings are locked safely away until November!   Dipping in not allowed!  
·       Unlike informal Christmas Clubs (diddlums if you’re from East Yorkshire!), money saved with us is 100% protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
·       Unlike supermarket stamps or hamper clubs, we pay you back direct (to your bank or cash) so you can shop around for bargains.
·       And if you haven’t had one before, we’ll reward you with a Bonus of at least £10* in November for opening a Christmas Saver.     *terms and conditions

Goal 3 – Reduce your outgoings 

New Year is a great time to sit down and take a look at what you’ve got coming in and going out each week or month.   Have you any Direct Debits going out for gym or magazine subscriptions that you no longer use?  Cancel them and save!  


Perhaps you are paying out more than you need to in credit card repayments.  Could you save some money by switching to a Credit Union Loan?    Then you could save the difference into one of our safe savings accounts, enabling you to pay the balance off in full even earlier than you expected!

Why pay out more than you need to?   Book a free money review with our friendly team and we’ll see if we can help.   Remember, all loans are subject to approval and, as a responsible lender, we make a credit history check and only lend what we feel you can afford to repay.

Goal 4 – Make the most of your family income – Our Family Loan & Savings Plan helps you spread those “lumpy costs”

It’s not easy managing your money when you’ve a young family.  You’ll recognise the problem – lots of expenses are sort of “lumpy”, meaning they come all at once in big unhelpful chunks – things like school uniforms, sports kit, school trips and holidays – while your income arrives in fairly regular amounts through the year.   It makes planning and budgeting a nightmare!

That’s why HEY Credit Union introduced our Family Loan & Savings Plan.   By having your Child Benefit paid into a CU Membership Account regularly, you can combine save saving and affordable borrowing to smooth those lumpy costs out across the year.   


You’ll know exactly how much you have left each week or month – for other spending or tucking safely away for Christmas, your family’s future, or just a “rainy day”.  

With our Family Loan & Savings Plan you can borrow £500 and pay back just £12 per week or £50 a month, over one year.   It’s many times cheaper than using doorstep lenders or other high cost credit.  The spare funds can be saved with us or transferred the same day to your bank, as you wish.

Hundreds of members are using this Plan already and many have told us how much it helps them manage their money wisely and takes the stress out of budgeting.  Recently it was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box.  Ask our friendly team – it could help you too.

HEY Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial co-operative, run for the benefit of its members.  We’d love to help you make the most of your money in 2020.   Happy New Year!