Wednesday, 6 June 2018

JOHN’S BLOG – JUNE 2018


A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEBT NEEDS YOU!
Do you remember the very successful morning BBC series TV last autumn called ‘A Matter of Life and Debt’?   This uplifting and positive series highlighted the important work done by credit unions up and down the country, as they helped people find loans to enrich or change their lives.
Well, it is returning to our screens in the autumn and the producers are looking for people to take part.  They would love to hear from you if you have:
·         taken out a loan in the past when you were in desperate need and wish to share your experience;
·         are planning on taking out a loan soon to bring about a positive change in your life; or
·         managed to overcome your debt problems with the help of the credit union and started saving as a result.
If you are interested in taking part, please send your contact details and a brief description of your story to the following email: lifeanddebt@curvemedia.comOr call the production team at Curve Media on 02920 329135.    If you prefer, you can speak to us here at the credit union and we can put you in touch. 

KEN FOSTER – ONE OF OUR FOUNDERS
We were sorry to learn of the recent death of Ken Foster, one of the founders of North Lincolnshire Credit Union.  Our Scunthorpe Branch activists have penned this tribute:
“Ken first became involved with the world of credit unions when he responded to an advertisement in the Scunthorpe Telegraph sponsored by North Lincolnshire Council, appealing for people to set up a steering group with a view to developing a Credit Union in Scunthorpe.
Ken was subsequently elected Chairman of the steering group and was passionate about pushing forward the development of a Credit Union as he could see the possible benefits for local people.  Everyone in the group attended intensive training sessions provided by the Co-operative College and Ken was enthusiastic about the training as it brought the dream closer.
European funding allowed the purchase of the shop on Scunthorpe High Street and Ken spent many hours utilising his skills as a retired builder in adapting the former furniture shop to the requirements of the Credit Union: he liaised with builders, building control and the fire service and ensured that the stringent regulatory requirements were met.
In 2002, a small community credit union – St George’s (Scunthorpe) – whose Board had joined the steering group, changed its name to North Lincolnshire Credit Union (NLCU) and extended its common bond to cover the whole county on a live or work basis, allowing it to trade. Ken was in his element trying to attract members and spent many hours and days sitting at the front desk, often alone, waiting for people to come in.
At the inaugural AGM of NLCU, Ken was elected Vice-President and he took his duties very seriously, promoting the credit union vociferously whenever and wherever he could. As NLCU grew, he always took his turn staffing the front desk, served on the credit and marketing committees, interviewed volunteers and sat on the personnel committee interviewing prospective staff.
As Ken’s health declined, his presence at the Credit Union diminished but he still came in on 2 or 3 days a week to assess loans, and was always very particular to check the person’s ability to repay.
Ken was fully behind the merger of NLCU with HEYCU in 2015 and offered many insightful thoughts on the way forward.
Sadly Ken’s health declined further and for the last two years he was unable to play an active part but he was always eager for news of the Credit Union and proud of the part that he had played in its development. 
After a long illness, Ken died on 26 May and HEYCU and we here at the Scunthorpe branch have lost a good friend. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”

WE WELCOME MOVES TO CAP HIGH COST CREDIT
As the Humber Region’s largest not-for-profit lender, we welcome the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s proposals to cap the cost of borrowing from rent-to-own, doorstep and other high cost sources of credit.  Here was my reaction to the news:
We are totally opposed to lenders exploiting consumers by charging exorbitant rates for the credit that people need in order to afford their lives. Leading vulnerable people into unsustainable debt in order to maximise profits for shareholders is not an acceptable practice in today’s society. Credit Unions have had a legal cap on their interest rates since 1979 but because of our not-for-profit ethos, we have no desire to charge more than it costs to run our organisation. Any surplus we do make is returned to our members as a bonus on their savings.

“Last year we were awarded a 5-star Fairbanking Mark by the Fairbanking Foundation in recognition of the efforts we make to support our members’ financial well-being. And in a recent study*, Credit Union loans were found to have the least serious impact on mental health whereas payday loans and unauthorised overdrafts had the worst.”
Since 1999 we estimate that we’ve saved our members over £13 million in interest charges compared to what they would have paid by taking similar credit from high cost providers.
The FCA has outlined a package of plans for rent-to-own, doorstep lending and catalogue shopping and says rent-to-own shops that sell appliances and furniture for small weekly repayments could face a price cap similar to the limits on payday lenders. It quoted examples where people have paid over £1,500 for essentials like an electric cooker which could be bought on the High Street for less than £300. It believes the harm caused in this market, used by three million people in the UK, is sufficient to justify considering a price cap.
We would like to remind members that our website has a link to the online Co-operative Electrical store which offers an impressive range of domestic appliances, TV, audio, computers, games and beds.  When taken with a Credit Union Loan the weekly payments are many times cheaper than those weekly payment stores referred to by the FCA.  Why not take a look?

* Royal Society for Public Health Report – Life on Debt Row:  https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/wellbeing/life-on-debt-row.html



NEW DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS
Over the last couple of months, you’ve probably been bombarded with messages from organisations that you have signed up with (and probably some that you haven’t) telling you how they plan to comply with the new data protection laws, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR for short).   So we won’t add to the burden.  But we do want to reassure our members that it’s Credit Union policy to take great care of your personal data, as you’d expect of an ethical member-owned organisation.  
We’ve recently updated our Privacy Policy (view here) and invited members to opt-in so that they continue to hear about our products, services, special offers and so on.  (Please note that, by law, we must send all members notices of our AGM and other membership information whether you opt in or not).  But we try not to overload you with contacts – one email newsletter per month is our usual practice.  And, of course, we never sell or pass on your personal data to other organisations for marketing purposes, because we know that most members wouldn’t be happy with that.   Rest assured, if you wish to opt out of marketing at any time, you only have to let us know and we will remove you from those lists.

VISITS TO DWP WORK SITES
Recently, I spent a day at the DWP Pension Centre at Seaham on the North-East coast, meeting groups of staff.  We’ve provided savings and loans by payroll deduction to over 1,200 DWP colleagues for nearly two years now, but my visits help to make more of them aware of this popular staff benefit and tie in well with the financial element of their Health & Wellbeing at Work initiative.
The day’s agenda included pre-arranged talks to groups of staff, who all seemed very interested in what I had to say.  Across lunch time, we had a stall in the foyer to catch anyone passing by for a quick chat, when I was accompanied by a colleague from the DWP Wellbeing Group, which helped to draw people into conversation.  The feedback from the day was very positive and 20 more members signed up:
“I found the session extremely informative and it gave me food for thought”
“John delivered the session clearly, without jargon, and fully explained what the credit union is about and what they can do for us”
“The fact that if you choose to save with them it comes straight off your pay makes it very easy to use”
“The loans they offer are comparable to a lot of High Street offerings”.
If any other DWP sites would like a visit, please contact info@hullandeycu.co.uk

STREET GAMES CLUB MEMBERS “IN THE MONEY”
We’ve been working with the Loan Sharks Team and a group of Street Games sports groups to give young people an opportunity to deposit money into a Junior Savers account each time they attend a session.   For many youngsters it’s the first time they’ve had an account in their own name and they love watching their savings grow.
At Andrew Marvell Youth Centre on Bilton Grange the organiser, Margaret Montgomery, says the project has proved very popular with both members and parents.
As a group, the issue of Loan Sharks or Illegal Moneylenders is explained to members. Because of all the media attention they do know a little about it, and the effects it has on people’s lives.
“We currently have over 20 regular savers and the response has been fantastic both from members and parents. Parents say it’s great because it’s easy to pay in at sessions. 
“We encourage members to save, not only for the initial 3 or 6 weeks but with a long term goal in mind.  Some for a school skiing trip next year or family occasions and treats.  The £25 Loan Shark bonus is a great incentive to start savings accounts. We have offered additional small incentives along the way if savings kept up.  We found that even though they bring 50p/£1 for their cards, members often put in change or unspent refreshment money as well.”
The £25 bonuses offered by the Illegal Money Lending Team are funded from Proceeds of Crime money confiscated from loan sharks, so it is very satisfying to see it doing some good by going back into the communities where the illegal lenders caused such misery.

NEWS FROM DRIFFIELD
During this Volunteers Week 2018 we’d like to pay tribute to two of our longest serving volunteers, upon their retirement.  Edwin King and Billy Briggs joined our Driffield branch shortly after its opening in 2005, and their enthusiasm, dedication, and regular commitment over the years was undoubtedly a major factor in its growth and development within the town. At a pleasant lunch held in the Original Keys Hotel, I said “thank you” for the considerable contribution volunteers like Edwin and Billy make to the success of our Credit Union.

LOAN SALE 2018 PROVES A BIG SUCCESS
Our Spring Loan Sale has proved more popular than ever before and lots of members have commented on how low our interest rates are compared with similar loans at the High Street banks.   As a result, our loan book is up by over 30% compared with the same period a year ago, and our members are benefiting from some great deals. 
Looking for a loan of £2000 to £7,500?   Apply before 15 June to be sure of 15% off the rate!  Find out more.

Monday, 26 February 2018

JOHN’S BLOG – FEBRUARY 2018


We are only into February but there’s lots going on at HEYCU to tell you about already:


RENEWABLE ENERGY POWERS NEW PARTNERSHIP

We are celebrating our new energy efficient status after installing solar panels, LED lighting and internal insulation as part of a new partnership with Co-op Energy.


Our Brook Street headquarters in Hull city centre now boasts 22 solar panels on the roof, along with new LED office lighting and internal insulation, provided by Co-operative Energy Saving.
Each solar twin peak panel has the capacity to produce up to 265w, meaning the new installation could create nearly 5,000kWh a year, saving up to £800 per annum.
Co-operative Energy Saving aims to help combat climate change by helping individuals, community groups and small businesses to reduce their energy consumption and bills.  This fantastic initiative has made us realise that, even as a relatively small organisation, we can play an important part in tackling climate change. It is an issue that we know our member-owners are very passionate about.
Martin Cook, Affiliates Manager at Co-op Energy, said: “One of our main goals as a co-operative is to help create a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable world, and working closely with like-minded individuals, communities and organisations is an essential part of this.
“Our project with Hull & East Yorkshire Credit Union shows what can be achieved when we work collaboratively to help shape the future of energy generation.”



NOW OUR CHRISTMAS SAVER PRIZE DRAWS ARE MONTHLY!

We’re so thrilled with the big increase in Christmas Saver accounts this year that we’ve decided to have a special Prize Draw once a month to encourage members to keep on saving!
At each month end we’ll draw a winner at random from all who have paid into their Christmas Saver account during that month.  So, remember to make at least one deposit per month and then you’ll qualify to be entered in every draw.   You’ll also be very glad when Christmas comes along and you have lots of money to draw upon, for a stress-free festive season.
Our first prize winner – in January – was Gemma Smirk of Kingswood, who is the proud owner of a new food blender, to get her new year off to a healthy start. 
February’s prize will have a Valentines’ theme –maybe the winner could be YOU?



WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS AT LEBUS

We were delighted to welcome eight new members at Lebus Upholstery, the furniture makers in Scunthorpe where we have a payroll partnership. Lebus workers can save and borrow with us direct from their pay, thanks to their enlightened management who offer them this fantastic staff benefit. 
Workers who use this service say they don’t miss the money, as it comes out before they get paid and goes into a savings account with us.   It’s a great way of “secret saving” for a special holiday or treat for a family member.   It’s also easy to change the amount – up or down – but many members just keep it the same year after year, building up a nice nest-egg for later in life.
Does your employer offer payroll deduction to our credit union?  If not, why not ask them to?   Employers simply contact us to find out how to operate it – and it’s really easy to administer.  If you can convince your employer to offer this benefit, we’ll reward you with £50.



CENTRE4 LAUNCH NEW SAVINGS CLUB TO HELP RESIDENTS PLAN AHEAD

Grimsby’s MP, Melanie Onn, helped us launch a new partnership for the people of North East Lincolnshire on Friday 23 February.  The Christmas Savings Club has now started at Centre4, the well-used community hub at Wootton Road, Grimsby.
Local residents will be able to pop into Centre4 to deposit small amounts of cash at a convenient time, giving them access to our credit union as a welcome alternative to payday loans, doorstep lenders and even illegal money lenders operating across North East Lincolnshire.
Linda Dellow, Chief Officer at Centre4 said, “We are delighted to offer a Christmas Savings Club from Centre4. We fully understand the financial pressures facing some people and how difficult it can be to budget from week to week, never mind keeping money back for Christmas. A Christmas Savings Club can help people put small amounts of money away on a regular basis and give them access to a savings fund at what is always an expensive time of year”.
For a limited time, a £10 bonus is available to anyone opening an account. The Christmas Savings bonus is provided by the Stop Loan Sharks project as a further incentive for people to develop a savings habit and keep away from high cost, high risk lending.  It is funded using proceeds of crime money; cash that has been seized from loan sharks under money laundering laws.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“We’re pleased to be working with Centre4 and Northern Lincolnshire Credit Union to launch this new incentive, which will see loan sharks’ cash being put to good use, to sponsor new Christmas savings accounts.  Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable members of our communities and extort them out of hard earned cash. If you have fallen victim to an illegal money lender, we urge you to contact us on 0300 555 2222 or www.stoploansharks.uk. We will take information anonymously and in confidence.”



HORNSEA WANTS A CREDIT UNION

I took a call from Councillor John Whittle of Hornsea in East Yorkshire the other day.  His enquiry was an all too familiar one these days, sadly.  The town of Hornsea (population 8.000+) is losing its last High Street bank in May.   After that, residents won’t have a local bank to pop into.   He asked whether the Credit Union could consider providing a service in the town.
Without funding, we would struggle to provide a high street banking presence in a town like Hornsea, but if we some enthusiastic volunteers came forward, maybe we could set up a weekly contact point, similar to those we operate in Driffield, Withernsea, Beverley, Howden and a few other places.   At least local residents would have somewhere to deposit savings and apply for affordable loans with a reputable organisation that cares for the local community – because we are owned by our members and exist solely to serve them, rather than make profits for City shareholders and bonuses for Fat Cat managers who I don’t suppose even know where Hornsea is.
Anyway, I’ve accepted an invitation to speak at Hornsea Town Council meeting on 5 March, so we’ll see what happens after that.  No promises, of course. 



SCHOOL BANK NEWS

Recently my staff colleague Jamie-Leigh issued our Spring-term Pennies 2 Pounds Newsletter to the schools where we have a volunteer run school bank.   She reminded everyone that mums, dads, uncles, aunties, grandparents and younger or older siblings can all save at the school bank, not just pupils.  It’s a popular way to get the whole family into the habit of regular saving so that money is available for Christmas, holidays, school trips, kit and uniform, birthday treats and so on.   Staff at most of our schools can also pay into the Credit Union direct from their salary.
The newsletter offers volunteers some useful tips for spreading the word about a school bank:
·        Ask about mentioning your school bank on the school’s website.  Some do this already but others don’t, probably because no one has suggested it.  It’s a good way to let the parents and wider community know when the school bank runs.  
·        Does the school produce a parents’ Newsletter? If so, perhaps they could include a short article about the school bank.
·        Hand out a flyer with an application form at the school gate (with head teacher’s permission).
·        Ask about sending flyers out with the children’s book bags.
·        Could someone offer to present an assembly in school, talking about the benefits of saving and looking after money, with some fun activities, music and rhymes?

We’re thrilled that Archie of Boothferry Primary School is our first P2P Saver to be awarded a Super Saver Certificate and P2P lunch bag.   He has saved with us regularly since the school bank opened in 2013 and reached an amazing personal savings target.



GOOLE & DISTRICT LOCAL MEMBERS’ GROUP

Our second meeting was held at The Courtyard, Goole on 31 January.  It was well-supported and we welcomed two new members.   The Know Your Credit Union Quiz was great fun and members were amazed to learn that since we were formed in 1999, our Credit Union reckons to have saved the people of Hull and East Yorkshire over £13 million by providing loans cheaper than doorstep lenders.   Jean Taylor and Janet Sowden won prizes for the most correct answers.
We discussed lots of ideas for improving the Pasture Road Credit Union branch, at modest cost.  We already have a play table to keep the little ones amused while parents make their transactions, and there are exciting plans to freshen up the d├ęcor, make better use of the back room and install a new sign.  We’re grateful to members of the Group for their suggestions and offers of help.
Since the meeting Councillor Pat O’Neil came to spend a day in branch with Jo and it was a great pleasure to have her company.  Pat was amazed at the variety of ways in which we try to help the people of Goole to make the best use of their money.   We have recently started to promote our partnership with Co-op Electrical, which lets members obtain domestic appliances much cheaper than certain weekly payment stores.  And they give a choice of delivery times!



VISITS TO DWP OFFICES

I’ve planned some visits to DWP sites over the next two months, to recruit more members, meet our Workplace Champions and say hello to existing members across the wide area we serve.  On 13-14 March I’ll be at Glasgow, Paisley and Motherwell.   April sees visits to Stockton-on-Tees, and possibly Seaham in the North-East, and also some offices in West Yorkshire. 
It was fascinating to learn that we were featured in a question in Parliament, when it was revealed that the three credit unions serving DWP staff (CommSave, Voyager Alliance and HEYCU) had enrolled 3,800 DWP members and provided them with loans of £4 million since July 2016.
A busy few weeks lies ahead, as we will also be launching a new payroll partnership to provide our popular savings and loans service to the staff of North East Lincolnshire Council. 



HULL’S HEADSCARF REVOLUTIONARIES

Did you see the BBC4 documentary about the group of Hull women who, 50 years ago, fought for decent health and safety at sea after 58 men lost their lives in the Triple Trawler Tragedy of 1968?
Deep sea fishing was the city’s most dangerous industry, with frequent loss of life, and many thought that nothing could be done about it.  Not so, “Big Lil” Bilocca and her friends, whose determined and ultimately successful campaign to stop unsafe trawlers from going to sea, in the face of stiff opposition from owners and sometimes the menfolk themselves, earned them the title “Headscarf Revolutionaries”.   It’s another example of the “power of the people” that makes us so proud of our home city. 



CHILD BENEFIT LOAN & SAVINGS PLAN
This is rapidly becoming one of our most popular products, with several hundred families now regularly having their Child Benefit paid into the Credit Union.   It’s a really simple and sensible way of combining saving and borrowing to make the most of your money.   A loan of £500 over a year costs just £12 a week, which means that someone receiving Child Benefit of £21, could save up to £470 a year just by leaving it in to mount up, say for use at Christmas.  Find out more.



Monday, 8 January 2018

JOHN’S BLOG – JANUARY 2018

A very Happy New Year to all readers!   


HOW ARE WE DOING?

The first quarter of our new Credit Union year (to 31 December) was certainly a hectic one, with all HEYCU branches experiencing an increase in activity compared with the same period a year ago.
By the end of the Christmas Loan season the value of loans issued was 44% higher than in the same season of 2016, and the income earned from loan interest was 26% higher.  
We are now serving 12,500 adult members and 1,400 junior savers, including 1,122 members employed by the DWP.
I’d like to thank our marvellous team of staff and volunteers for their hard work in growing the Credit Union and looking after our members so professionally.  If we can keep this momentum going, we will transform our results by next year end.


CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!

Well done and congratulations to our winning members and junior savers:
Grace (Acre Heads), Ella (Driffield Infants) and Christopher (Nafferton) were judged winners of our autumn School Savers’ poster colouring competition.  We had some stunning entries so that it was very difficult for our Member Services Team to pick the winners!   All entrants received a chocolate treat as a thank you.



Our 2017 Refer a Friend Prize Draw was won by Gail Turner of Bridlington.  Gail was delighted when she learnt that she had won a Food and Drink Hamper value £50 and said the coffee and walnut cake was her favourite!  The prize was handed over by staff colleague Sarah at our Prospect Street branch.   We’d like to thank all our members who referred a friend to join us recently – don’t forget to collect your free CU jute shopping bag next time you pop in, if you haven’t done already.


We invited members to post a review on our Facebook page.  Several of you did (many thanks) and Sarah Richardson was the name pulled out of the hat to win a visit for two to Father Christmas at Princes Quay, Hull!   So pleased you enjoyed it, Sarah.


OUR GOOLE CHRISTMAS TOY APPEAL

We felt very privileged to be invited to help Our Goole magazine’s first ever Christmas Toy Appeal.  So many people and local businesses collected presents for the appeal that there wasn’t an inch of spare space at our Goole branch on the day when they were distributed to local families! 
Jo Evans (Goole Branch) said: “We have a number of families we work with who have massively benefited from this toy appeal. It was so great to be involved and I found it quite emotional when the parents saw the presents and realised they were able to choose something for their children. 
This has made such a big difference to so many families in our area.  Without the toy appeal, some of these children would have had very little to look forward to.  The look on the parents’ faces was just priceless and that will stay with me for a long time. I feel so proud to have been involved”.
Lisa Warrener, director of Our Goole, said: “We were absolutely blown away by the amount of presents we received for the appeal but not entirely surprised.  The people of Goole are well known for pulling together to help others in times of need and this toy appeal once again proved that to be true.”


OUR FANTASTIC AGM 2017

As always, it was a great thrill to welcome our members to their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hull’s prestigious Guildhall on 12th December.
Members asked a variety of thoughtful questions on the annual report, which the President and I did our best to answer.   Our guest speaker, Aidene Walsh, chief executive of the Fairbanking Foundation, gave an interesting presentation, explaining how we qualified for the 5-star Fairbanking Mark for our CU Loans. 
After voting on the annual dividend, the director elections took place.  Congratulations to John Lawrence, Sue Nicholson and Alan Hignett on being re-elected to the Board, and to our two new directors, Joanne Foster and Altynay Guney.  
Altynay is part of the Customer Experience Team at Hull City Council and speaks several languages.  She has set up a community organisation to support Eastern Europeans living in the region with employment, welfare and financial issues, and is also a director of the Goodwin Development Trust.
Joanne, previously a HEYCU director from 2011 to 2013, has many years’ experience in financial services and banking, as well as working for leading social housing providers.  She served as a DWP Financial Inclusion Champion and is currently a social housing and welfare reform consultant.
Read the minutes of the AGM and some feedback from those members who attended.


AIM HIGHER – OUR CHARITY OF THE YEAR

At the AGM we held a “spare change” collection for a local charity, Aim Higher, raising £81.60.  We’re also adding in some other funds collected over the festive period and will arrange a presentation very soon. 
Aim Higher is a new charity launched in September 2016 to empower local families who face challenges with autism, mental health and educational barriers.  They organise regular support group meetings and offer one-to-one support for families as required.  They do some great work and you can read more on their website
We’ve decided to make Aim Higher our HEYCU charity of the year and the Employees’ Council will be planning some fund raising events that we can all support.


WEST HULL COMMUNITY RADIO

I was pleased to be invited on to West Hull FM recently to talk about our Credit Union.  This energetic local radio station broadcasts to a target community of 100,000 people in West Hull, Hessle, Cottingham, Anlaby and Willerby, who listen in on 106.9 FM or online.  It operates on a not-for-profit basis (like us) and is funded by sponsors, advertisers, grants and donations.
The aim of West Hull FM is to produce truly local radio, working with volunteers, local groups and organisations to give a voice to the community.  The station is staffed mostly by a team of dedicated, committed volunteers who excel in producing and presenting unique and innovative programmes.
From what I saw, there should be more ventures like West Hull FM and I look forward to visiting them again at some point.   If you’re in their area, why not listen in for yourself or find out more here


HEYCU PEOPLE

At the December Board meeting, our new President was welcomed into office!   Alan Hignett, who has been our President for the past four years, completed his term of office and handed over to Andy Stankard, who will now serve until at least December 2019.
The role of a Credit Union President is a key one, as it involves chairing all Members’ Meetings, chairing and leading the Board of Directors to ensure that its meetings are run effectively, supporting the individual directors and liaising well with the Chief Executive, as well as being the public face of the CU in many ways.
In my next blog there’ll be a pen portrait and some words from Andy on his hopes and plans for his time in office.
Meanwhile, there’s been some changes in the office.  Zoe (Hull Member Services) left to take up a management role elsewhere and we wish her all the best. 
Lauren has taken on the new role of Branch Development Co-ordinator and will become a familiar face at our branches over the coming months as we develop our exciting plans.  In 2017 Lauren was one of the first graduates from the CU Futures Leadership programme.


LOCAL MEMBERS’ GROUPS

Here’s a quick reminder that in parts of our region, we have Local Members’ Groups meeting regularly to engage our members in learning more about their Credit Union and helping to promote it in their area.
Driffield Local Members’ Group meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month from 10 am to 11 am at the branch office, Market Walk, Driffield.  Recently they ran a very popular stall at the Christmas Market with the help of our Penny the pennywise penguin, and they often raise funds for local charities.
Goole & District Local Members’ Group next meets on Wednesday 31 January from 6.00 pm at the Courtyard, Boothferry Road, Goole.  There’ll be light refreshments, a quiz and a prize draw.
If you are a member living in those areas, why not pop along and join in?  The meetings are very informal and you’ll be made most welcome.


TIME FOR A NEW YEAR MONEY MAKEOVER

This month we’re really keen to help people across the Humber Region to give their money a New Year Makeover.  We’d love members and non-members alike to pop into one of our branches for a chat to see if we can save them some money.
At this time of year, those credit card bills drop through the letter box and many people find themselves embarrassed by the balances they ran up on the festive spends.  Some will certainly be paying more in monthly payments than they need to. This is where we may be able to help.   Why not see if you could Swap & Drop by switching to a Credit Union Loan with lower interest and lower repayments?
With a CU Loan, you not only simplify your finances by making one simple, smaller payment, but you can choose to “save as you borrow”, with repayments split between your loan and savings.  So, when you’ve repaid your loan, you’ll have built up some handy savings too. 
As part of the Money Makeover, we’d also encourage you to open a Christmas Saver account.  With over £700,000 saved in 2017, ours is probably the Humber Region’s biggest Christmas Club, with all the funds safely protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (many clubs aren’t), and locked away from temptation until 1st November each year. 
The Money Advice Trust, a debt charity, is advising consumers to plan ahead, set a household budget for 2018 and look at joining a Credit Union to save up for a stress-free Christmas.   We’d agree – and to make it even more appealing, for a limited period we’re offering a £10 Bonus to anyone who opens a Christmas Saver account with us, makes at least two deposits, and keeps the savings in until November.   The £10 bonuses are kindly funded by the Illegal Money Lending Team, a public agency that helps to combat loan sharks.
So there’s just two ideas for your New Year Money Makeover – let’s see if we can help, pop into a branch today for a chat with our friendly team, or call us on 01482 778753.




Monday, 27 November 2017

JOHN’S BLOG – NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

Life is buzzing here at HEY-CU as it’s “all hands on deck” to provide our members with the funds they need to afford the coming festive season.  If we take a little longer than usual to respond to your enquiries, we hope you will understand.


OUR AGM







We are looking forward to meeting our members at the AGM on Tuesday 12 December in Hull Guildhall.  The meeting starts at 5.45 pm but food and drink is available from 5.15 pm.  It promises to be an interesting meeting as we have lots to tell you about our action-packed year as well as our exciting plans for 2018.   We promise there won’t be any long speeches but we are thrilled that Aidene Walsh of the Fairbanking Foundation is coming to say a few words about our award of a 5-star Fairbanking Mark which was obviously one of the highspots of our 2017.

Our Annual Newsletter and Report & Accounts are now on our website for you to and we will shortly post details of the candidates nominated for the Board of Directors so that you can read about them ahead of the meeting if you wish.   If you are unable to come to the meeting but would like to email a question on the report, we’ll try to have it answered at the meeting and then forward a reply to you.


RECORD CHRISTMAS SAVINGS
It’s been another record year for our Christmas Saver accountMembers accumulated just over £700,000 by 1st November, the date when the funds were unlocked for withdrawal.   All branches increased their festive savers this year but I want to make particular mention of our newest contact points – Howden and Hemingbrough – where, despite us only opening in June and September respectively, the savvy-saving residents managed to amass £4,634 towards Christmas, and earn themselves £1,450 in bonuses thanks to our Shop the Sharks Campaign!

While browsing a well-known bookshop the other day I was fascinated to find a paperback called Me Sannies are Brannies by John Brien.   It lists all the words and phrases that Hull folk use that are unique to the city, you know, like “mama mia” (here I am, mother) and “goin’ on rerd (going shopping).  It even mentioned Didlums – the informal savings clubs often run by work mates or neighbours Hull people use to save up for Christmas.  Here at HEY-CU we must surely be running the biggest Didlum in the City – our Christmas Saver account!   It’s probably the safest one as well, because it’s entirely protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, unlike those informal ones.   If you haven’t joined yet, why not give it a try and aim for a stress-free Christmas 2018.   I can see all you non-Hullites wondering: Me Sannies are Brannies?  - My sand shoes (gym shoes) are brand new.


LOANS GALORE


We’re very delighted that more and more people are discovering that our Credit Union Loan offers a great way to spread the cost whether it’s for Christmas treats, replacement domestic items, a new car, home improvements, a holiday, a special family celebration or whatever.  Since the morning BBC TV series featured credit unions a few weeks back, footfall in our branches has been higher than ever, and our loans are up 35% compared to the same period last year.  Our Child Benefit Loan and Savings Plan has taken off in a big way – check it out on our website – while, for our payroll members, our Flexi-Credit product is proving highly popular.    

During October and November we experimented with Saturday opening at our main Brook Street branch and there was a good response.  We will be evaluating the results shortly to see if this is something that would be worth repeating.

There’s still time to apply for a CU Loan for Christmas but don’t leave it too long!


DRIFFIELD CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL AND LIGHT SWITCH ON
If you’re out and about in Driffield on Friday 1st December the chances are you’ll meet our pennywise friend, Penny the penguin!   She’ll be helping our volunteers on the Credit Union stall at Driffield’s Christmas Market, which starts at 2 pm and lasts until 8 pm.  The festive fun takes place in the Market Place, with the big switch on at 7 pm. There’ll be lots of gift ideas, music and street entertainment, a family fun fair, tombola, hog roast and a chance to see Santa on his sparkling sleigh.  Talking of gift ideas, why not open a First Saver account for the special children in your life; you’ll be setting them up for a bright financial future?


OUR GOOLE TOY APPEAL
We’re proud to be supporting the Our Goole Christmas Toy Appeal, which distributes gifts to local families who need a bit of support. Anyone wishing to donate may drop off new unwrapped gifts at our Goole branch, 22 Pasture Road on Mondays, Tuesdays or Fridays from 10 am to 2 pm.  Let’s make their Christmas a special one.


MEMBERS’ LOTTERY
Those Credit Union Friendly Folk who run our monthly Members’ Lottery have issued their Annual Report and Accounts which make interesting reading.  During the year to 30 September 2017 they sold 12,371 Lottery tickets and paid out prizes worth £7,278 (58%).  They again donated £5,000 to our Credit Union to support our training, marketing and postage costs.  We are most grateful to the Hull Branch of UNISON, the public service union, for becoming our main Lottery sponsor for 2017-19, which means more prizes for our members each month. 

We’re keen to find more sponsors to help swell the prize fund.  Organisations who become Lottery sponsors get great publicity in our newsletters, on social media and the branch TV screens, which are seen by thousands of members.  If your organisation would like to support us, do please get in touch.


DEMENTIA FRIENDS
Our staff team had an interesting talk by one of the Dementia Friends Champions, a trained volunteer from the Alzheimer’s Society.  We wanted to understand more about dementia so that we can better help members with the condition when they visit or call us on the phone.  We learnt five important things about dementia:
·        It’s not a natural part of ageing;
·        It’s caused by diseases of the brain;
·        It’s not just about losing your memory, it can affect thinking, communicating and doing everyday tasks;
·        It is possible to live well with dementia; and
·        There’s more to a person than dementia.  With support, people with dementia can and do take an active role in life.
Hopefully, by becoming Dementia Friends we can play a small part in helping to build more dementia-friendly communities.  If you need support or advice about dementia, visit alzheimers.org.uk or contact the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.  To enquire about becoming a Dementia Friend, email dementiafriends@alzheimers.org.uk or call 0845 306 0898.


CREDIT UNION ARCHIVE
One of our active volunteers suggested that, now HEY-CU has passed its 18th anniversary, it could be time to set up an archive to ensure our proud history is properly recorded for the benefit of future generations.   We are required by law to keep minutes of our board and committee meetings of course, and we have a full set of annual reports, but also over the years we’ve amassed a range of artefacts such as City of Hull Credit Union mugs, pens, coasters, rulers, shopping bags, membership cards and printed material of every kind.  We’ve also won one or two awards and trophies along the way which would look very splendid in a display case.   If anyone is interested in helping us to celebrate our history, has any expertise in this area, or any relevant items they’d like to donate to a HEY-CU archive, do please get in touch!


TAKE FIVE – TO STOP FRAUD
We are always anxious to help our members to stay safe and avoid becoming victims of financial fraud.  That’s why we’re supporting Take Five – a national campaign led by Financial Fraud Action and backed by HM Government, that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help everyone stay clear of preventable financial fraud.

Many of us think we’d never fall for a fraudulent text or email, but criminals are more sophisticated than ever.  Take a test to see if you can spot the fraud and know when it’s time to say ‘My money? My info? I don’t think so’.

It’s worth remembering, your bank, credit union or the police will never:
·        phone and ask you for your PIN or full banking password, even by tapping them into your phone keypad;
·        ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping;
·        ask you to transfer money to a safe account for fraud reasons, even if they say the account is in your name;
·        send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards or cheque books if you are a victim of fraud;
·        ask you to purchase goods using your card and then hand them over for safe-keeping.


FESTIVE OPENING TIMES
As Santa and his helpers prepare to make their deliveries, here at HEY-CU the seasonal work of our staff and volunteer team will be almost done, and we’ll be ready for a little rest.  So, some of our branches will have different opening times between 18 December and 2 January.  Check out here when your branch will be open.  Our phone lines will open the same days as Hull Central branch.



Everyone at HEY-CU sends seasonal greetings and wishes all friends a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018.