Thursday, 3 December 2015

December is here!

Christmas Savings reach record high
Our members once again beat previous records in 2015, with total collective savings of £613,000 in their Christmas Saver accounts (last year's figure was just over half a million).   Of course that doesn't reflect the total funds saved up for Christmas as many members use our Instant Access accounts for that purpose (the ones with enough will power to resist dipping in presumably!). 

This tremendous result reflects the efforts we’ve put into promoting Christmas planning in recent years and the enthusiastic way our members have responded to the call.    Many families will surely be glad they did and as a result fewer will dread the arrival of those post-Christmas credit card bills or be tempted to take out high-cost short-term credit to pay for it. 

Since the Christmas Savers were "unlocked" on 1st November, our staff have paid out £470,000 and are still busy responding to requests.  Happy Christmas everyone!

AGM 2015
I am looking forward to our AGM next Tuesday - the 8th December - in Hull's historic Guildhall, starting at 5.45 pm.   For me, it is like a big annual "family gathering" when members of our Credit Union family come together to review all we have achieved, discuss our progress and announce our exciting plans for the year ahead.

Our AGM gives us a chance to show members and guests just what we do and share news and information about our products, services and the people who make it all happen - our wonderful staff, volunteer and partner team.

I do hope you’ll be able to come.  If you aim to arrive a little early, there will be some food and drink, (from 5.15 pm) and an opportunity to mingle with other members.   We will have our ever popular Fairtrade stall to entice you with festive gifts and treats, plus a free raffle and maybe even some goodies to share out as a "thank you" for coming.

The directors and I look forward to seeing you there!

Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer
We're delighted to announce the appointment of Carmel Seston as our Partnership Officer for Northern Lincolnshire.

Carmel is very experienced in financial services, the world of education and the voluntary sector.  As a primary school teacher she used resources provided by PFEG to introduce financial capability into the school curriculum.  With Irish family roots, Carmel has always been familiar with credit unions, which are found everywhere in Ireland.  During 2015 she has been our East Riding Project Officer, working to establish school savings clubs on the north bank, a role which will run alongside her new duties.

Carmel has already started working with the Winterton 2022 project to develop school banks and community contact points in the town of Winterton.  She will also support our growing partnerships with the Ongo Group, North Lincolnshire Council and North Lindsey College.  I know she has already met many members of the Northern Lincolnshire community and we wish her every success in her new role.

School Banks News
Our new Pennies 2 Pounds bank at Appleton Primary School in Hull had a fantastic launch with 28 savers joining on the first day.

Pennies 2 Pounds Christmas Card Competition
·        The schools team ran a competition among the P2P schools to colour a Christmas Card, which attracted 24 entries.  The winners of a selection box and £5 HEYCU savings voucher were:
·        Key stage 1 - Leah Pearson (Northfield Primary)
·        Key stage 2 – Abigail Little (Roos Primary).
·        Everyone who entered will be receiving a party bag in the next week or so, with our thanks for taking part.

Credit Unions meet to prepare for transformation
HEYCU joined other credit unions entering the transformation phase of the Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP) in Manchester for a special conference last week.  Over 70 delegates from 35 credit unions attended.
The Transformation Programme will see credit unions like ours introduce a new range of modern products, services and access channels for our members during 2016.
The conference began with a special message from Lord Freud reiterating the UK Government’s ongoing support for the credit union sector, and the Chair of Cornerstone Mutual Services, Lord Hunt, welcomed credit unions to the event.
Delegates then enjoyed a packed programme of presentations and workshops on topics ranging from the automated lending system known as PowerCurve, how to prepare for migration, credit union governance and the marketing support available for transforming credit unions.
The CUEP is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) won the contract to deliver it. CUEP is managed by Cornerstone Mutual Services,  ABCUL’s subsidiary company.
ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “Credit unions have made a very significant commitment in signing up for transformation, and there is a clear determination to deliver products and access channels that will attract and serve a new generation of credit union members.
“As credit unions continue to engage with the project, 2016 promises to be a momentous year for Britain’s credit union movement.”

Board Assessment
Our members may not be aware of all the work that goes on “behind the scenes” to make sure our Credit Union is governed in the best possible way.

Each year HEYCU's directors conduct a self-evaluation survey, to help them monitor how well they perform as a board, and as individual directors, and discover any areas for improvement.   Each director completes a questionnaire which is then sent confidentially to an independent assessor, who collates all the results and presents them with an Assessment Report.  The annual survey has now run for three years, so it's possible to observe trends in each area.  

The areas covered and a summary of the Assessor’s latest findings are:
·        Board performance - here the overall score was 85% in 2013; 85.2% in 2014 and 88.2% in 2015, showing that the directors feel the Board is working together better than ever.
·        Strategic management - 2014's big increase has been maintained, reflecting the significant work done on two major projects - the North Lincs CU merger and the Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP)
·        Board governance - the score is up to 82% this year (80.7% in 2014) and only dented slightly by some concerns about lack of diversity in the Board's membership.
·        Individual director performance - an average score of 87.7% (84% in 2014) shows a confident and accomplished team of directors who really do perform well together.
·        When asked what issues had occupied the Board this year, most directors quoted CUEP, the merger, business planning and the loans strategy, with the merger being the stand out success they took special satisfaction from.  Diversity and a good mix of skills are key areas they feel need addressing, while in the coming year they feel the board should focus specially on increasing the Credit Union’s loan activity, CUEP and attracting new members.

The Assessor summed up his report with "Volunteer directors are not easy to keep motivated and focused yet the results of three years of surveying board performances show evidence of consistency that would impress the staunchest Investors in People assessors."  "The leadership of HEYCU must take some credit for the creation of a cohesive board team" and "this survey ... allows greater scrutiny of the workings of the Board of Directors than many similar businesses would allow".   

We hope our member-owners take some pride in these findings, but we will not rest in our aim of working towards world class standards of governance here at HEYCU.

Business Start-up Loans
Do you know anyone who is planning to start their own business, or who has been running one for less than two years? If so, why not tell them about our Business Start-up Loan?   It could be just what is needed to put their new business on the ladder of success.

Applicants can be considered for loans of up to £25,000 per business, repayable over 12 to 60 months.   The interest rate is a very competitive 6.19% APR.  

We can also make available free mentoring and other special offers.

Applications are open to most kinds of businesses – we know for example that people are thinking about the business opportunities that Hull City of Culture 2017 and beyond will bring.
For details of the information we will require to consider a loan please visit our web page.

Member Satisfaction Survey Q&As
Here's another question that a member raised in this year's Member Survey and our response:
Q:  Could members be informed if their money would be better in a higher interest account?
A:  As a Credit Union we are not allowed to advertise rates of interest on dividend-bearing savings accounts.  Returns on different accounts are in the form of a dividend (share of profits) which is declared at the AGM in December each year and posted to accounts the next day.  On our website we show the dividends paid on each account over the last few years, so that members have an idea of past returns (although these cannot be a guarantee of future returns).  The savings accounts we offer have slightly different terms and conditions (some are instant access; others have limits on withdrawals etc) so members can judge for themselves which one is best for their needs.

Get organised for Christmas 2016

Get organised for next Christmas with our special Saver account - an ideal way to save for the festive season 

·        Be prepared and save in advance

·        Easy ways to pay in whenever you like

·        We’ll look after your money safely 

If you've never had a Christmas Saver with us before, we'll match your first deposit up to £10 when you open one.   If you live in Northern Lincolnshire, your friend can also earn £5 for referring you!


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Beginning of November

Christmas Saver pay out time!
We're now into the busiest season of the year, with the start of the Christmas Saver pay-outs this week as well as hundreds of members popping in (or going on line) to arrange their Christmas Loans.  It's always a hectic time for our staff and volunteers but also a very satisfying one as we try to play our part in helping our members to "get Christmas sorted" once again.  But please bear with us and be understanding if we take a little longer than usual to deal with applications.  We will get back to everyone just as soon as we can.

International Credit Union Day
On 15 October we marked this important event in the Credit Union Calendar with a New Member Recruitment Session at County Hall in Beverley.  Sandra and Susan from Central Office were there to sign up the employees of East Riding of Yorkshire Council for saving by payroll deduction.  We gained quite a few new members, one of whom was in the money straight away as she won the prize draw - well done Gill Drury, hope you enjoy spending your Say Shopping vouchers!

At Hull Central Carmel put on an international display in the foyer on the theme "People helping People" and gave out goodies to visitors.  When I walked by there was a member with her young son studying the display and he managed to name correctly all the international flags!  When I explained about International Credit Union Day, the Mum said joining us had been one of the best things she had done.

My trip to the seaside
Last week I headed over to Withernsea to take some flyers to the Town Council for door to door distribution and found they'd moved their offices to the Meridian Centre, a fine old building in the town centre that I remember as the Co-op Department Store, before it became a club/pub, and more recently has been under seemingly endless renovation.

Mrs Anne Blake, last year's Mayor, treated me to a guided tour of the building which is a fantastic resource for the town!  The top floor houses a big screen cinema and function suite, while at ground level there's a large meeting room with tables, Council chamber, and offices for hire.  I do hope the people of Withernsea and the surrounding area are going to support this impressive new facility - it deserves to succeed. 

I then popped into a cafe and at the next table a family were discussing money.  They were chatting about their grand-daughter saving with a school bank.  "It's with the Credit Union", they said, "and it's done wonders to teach her the value of money and all about saving regularly".  Of course my ears pricked up and I just had to introduce myself (they might have been our members) but it turned out the grand-daughter lived in Sheffield and saved with one of Sheffield Credit Union's school banks, which apparently are just like ours.

After a quick call at the Council's Withernsea Centre and The Shores to renew contacts, I picked up the latest Seaside Radio Magazine (we are in there with money tips for Christmas!) to read on the bus home.

Hull 2017 - it's not all about a logo
I attended another briefing at Hull Truck about our forthcoming City of Culture year.  The place was packed to the rafters with business leaders and it was the day they unveiled the new Hull 2017 logo.   Well, I've learnt that the one thing that's guaranteed to stir up the good folks of Hull is the launch of a new logo.  We've had loads of them over the years, from crowns to sailing boats, to cogs and silhouettes of buildings, and goodness knows what else.  All resulted in reams of column inches in the Hull Daily Mail as people vented their feelings - mainly negatively - about the latest idea.  And that's before we even mention (dare I) that this one was designed in Sheffield!

But hang on a minute!  It's only a logo - surely it's what we do with our City of Culture opportunity that really matters - the events, the contacts, the foundations laid for a prosperous future.  The logo is just a way of identifying things related to it.   Let's face it, it would be impossible to design one that everybody likes.  And remember, it's not even the "brand" - the "Hull brand" is much more than a logo, it's all the things that make our city what it is, and can be - the experience our visitors will remember about us when they return home.

As I write these notes, I've just returned from Liverpool (had to attend a meeting there about Credit Union regulation).  They were European Capital of Culture in 2008.  As you walk around the city centre, with its impressive architecture (like Hull's), you can see how they have benefited.  The city, once a rundown place with little hope, now has a confident air about it, and looks like somewhere that's on the up.  And so it will be here - so let’s try to be positive.

(I quite like the logo, by the way, it's clever)  Well, now I've got that off my chest . . .

School Banks News
I was very pleased to see that we had 40 new Junior Savers in the month of October.  Many came through the new autumn intake at our primary schools, especially the schools starting Pennies 2 Pounds for the first time, such as Aldbrough.  But some of the established ones have also done well with recruitment.  Giving our youngsters a fun way to save is such a good investment in their future.

Our next launch comes at Appleton Primary School in the North-West corner of Hull, on 12 November.   I must admit to having special interest in this one as I am on the School Governing body there, and it's where my own children enjoyed their early school life.

We recently had an enquiry from Hilderthorpe Primary School in Bridlington about starting a school bank.  Rita was quickly "on the case" and plans are afoot for a launch in January. 

Could you be one of our Directors?
It's the time of year when we invite members to consider volunteering for election to our Board of Directors.  There will be five vacancies to be filled at the AGM on 8 December, and only three existing directors will be eligible to apply, leaving two clear vacancies to be contested for.

If the idea of being part of a Board (team) helping to decide the strategy and policies of one of the most successful and forward-looking credit unions in Britain appeals to you, why not put yourself forward?  

You can find out more about the role of Credit Union director on our website.  You'll need to commit a bit of time (but it can easily be combined with a job or other voluntary activities) and we are looking for people who are passionate about credit unions and what they stand for.   It's an important role but, guess what, you won't get paid for it!  It's completely voluntary (although travel and out of pocket expenses can be reimbursed).   Imagine being a director of a bank and not getting paid any fee, never mind a fat-cat bonus!  Well, it's one of the things that makes us different, and, as many of our members would say, better than a bank.

If you're still unsure about it, one of our directors, Emma, has written about her experiences as a recently-elected director of HEYCU.  Read it here.   You are also welcome to call me for an informal chat if you wish.

Anyone who wishes to stand will need to get their Nomination Form to the CU Central Office by 6 pm on Monday 23 November. 

Remembrance Day
On Wednesday 11 November at 11 am we will take part in the two minute silence to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of the country.  In Hull the start and end of this act of remembrance is traditionally marked by the firing of cannon in the city centre.

TV Screen - Scunthorpe Branch
Have you been into our Scunthorpe Branch recently?  If so, you'll probably have seen the TV screen over the counter, like the ones we have in Hull Central.  We use the screens to show changing messages that will interest our members while they are waiting to be served.  It saves plastering the walls with lots of notices that can soon get out of date.

Rent Direct and Jam Jar Accounts go-live
HEYCU is working with Hull City Council to pilot a Rent Direct service in readiness for the launch of Universal Credit in the city early next year.   Universal Credit, the new state benefit replacing six other welfare payments, will be paid monthly and tenants will be responsible for making sure their rent is paid on time.  That’s where we come in.  Hull City Council tenants will be able to set up a Rent Direct account to receive their Universal Credit.  We will make sure their rent is paid when due and the spare funds will be made available either loaded on to a Prepaid Debit Card, transferred to a bank account or collected from a branch in cash.  
Tenants using this service will have peace of mind knowing that their rent is sorted without effort or fuss.  What’s more, they know that any money left over is actually theirs.   Hull City Council is supporting the scheme, so that it can be provided for their tenants free of charge.  

Alongside this service is a Jam Jar account which enables users, for a fee of less than £1 a week, to let the Credit Union look after other regular payments (as well as rent), so that users never need worry about bank charges or missing payments again.   It’s a hassle free way to take control of your finances, and can be used by anyone, whether in receipt of wages, benefits or pensions.

For more information on how to set up a Rent Direct or Jam Jar account, contact Hull City Council on 01482 300300, Hull Families Project on 01482 809333 or the Credit Union on 01482 775783.

If you are a landlord and would like to work with us to provide a similar service for your tenants, please get in touch.   Email jsmith@hullandeycu.co.uk

Take a fresh look at Credit Union Loans!
This month we are urging anyone thinking about borrowing money to give us a chance to meet their needs.  Try us, rather than your bank, and see if we can offer you a deal that saves you some money.  And you can now apply online!   Take a look at the Loans page of our website and see how easy it is.


As a little “thank you”, we will enter everyone who gets a loan from us in November into a prize draw to win £100.   

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

W/c 12 October

Hull Fair is here again!
Well, it's that time of year when what is known as the Biggest Travelling Funfair in Europe rolls into town!   Yes, it's Hull Fair Week and judging by the huge crowds descending on the Walton Street Fairground each evening as I pass by (ever so slowly, mind) in my homeward bus, everyone seems to be well aware of it.   But for those of my readers who don't live round here and haven't ever heard the phrase "Hull Fair weather", or sampled the tasty delights of a bag of Hull Fair Brandy Snap, I just thought I'd mention it so that you might consider visiting our "fair city" and seeing what all the fuss is about. 

A thrilling victory for our Eastern Raiders FC 
On Saturday my wife and I had the great pleasure of popping over to Goole to watch a football game played by our sponsored team, Eastern Raiders.  The Credit Union had sponsored the match balls and so I was invited to a photo call to present them to the team before the kick off.  We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the Raiders didn't disappoint for one second!  In a thrilling end-to-end encounter they smashed their opponents. Orchard Park, 5-1 to retain their place at the top of Division Two, East Riding County League. Mind you, Orchard Park promised revenge when the return fixture is played at their ground!  Up the Raiders!

Are you looking to move house?
If you are a Council tenant or a Housing Association tenant in Hull and fancy moving to a smaller or larger home, did you know that you can mutually exchange?   Hull City Council and partners are hosting a House Swap Event at the Mortimer Suite (Paragon Street entrance), Hull City Hall on Wednesday 14 October, from 9 am to 12.30 pm.   Come along and see what it's all about.  We'll be having a Credit Union stand there, to make people aware of our new Rent Direct and Jam Jar Accounts (supported by Hull City Council) and affordable credit for people needing to furnish their new homes, among other services we offer.

Looking forward to International Credit Union Day
Another exciting happening this week comes on Thursday 15th October, when it's International Credit Union Day. Credit unions all over the world are planning events to promote our movement's many achievements.  This year's theme is "People helping People", the idea being to raise awareness of how credit unions help people to pool their money and make loans to each other.

We'd like to think that our members would see this as a great opportunity to spread the word about what they like about credit unions, be proud of their membership of this wonderful "worldwide family", and try to join up a friend, relation, work colleague or other associate.

What are we doing here at HEYCU to celebrate?  
·        Well, a little bird tells me that if you pop into our Hull Central branch in Brook Street, there may be a few little treats in store, and the place will have an international look about it!
·        At County Hall in Beverley, from 12 noon to 2 pm we'll have a recruitment stand outside Room 7 again, where East Riding of Yorkshire Council workers can find out all about saving with us regularly direct from their pay and, if they wish, sign up on the spot.  Last year's event was very popular so we're hoping that those who joined then will tell their workmates what a great benefit it has been and urge them to join!  Council staff who sign up this week (12-17 October), either at the event, online or in branch, will be entered into a prize draw to win a £20 shopping voucher.
·        Watch out for our First Person article in Thursday's Hull Daily Mail, which I have written with an International Credit Union Day flavour.
·        If you take any pictures of an ICU Day event, please send them in to our Facebook page, so we can share them with credit union friends around the world.

Now, for those of you who are really keen on history:
The first International Credit Union Day was held in 1948 but credit unions go back much further than that, to early 19th century Europe.  In 1846-7 Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Raiffeisen laid the foundations for the first credit unions when Germany was devastated by famine.  In 1849 Schulze-Delitzsch, a judge, founded a "thrift and loan association" which included 57 shoemakers who had been affected by industrialisation.  Raiffeisen was mayor of several villages in the German Westerwald province and wanted to help farmers to set up co-operatives to improve their lives. In 1862 a charitable association in the town of Heddesdorf that he founded became a credit society where members' deposits were used to make loans to other members. 

It's amazing to think that our modern day movement, comprising 57,000 Credit Unions with 217 million members in 105 countries sprang from such modest roots.  

Christmas Saver time approaches
There's less than three weeks to go before you eager Christmas Savers can access your money and go festive shopping.  It's an exciting time as all that scrimping and saving pays off and you can finally get Christmas "sorted".   Those who opened a new account earlier in 2015 should find a little extra in your account as your Matched Bonus, plus dividend, gets added on.

We've sent out letters and emails to members at certain branches (outside Hull) asking how and when you'd like your funds.  Please help us plan for this busy season by completing your letter and dropping it into a branch (or you can fax, email or post it back if you’d prefer), and we will organise it for you.

Year end challenges
Our Year End passed smoothly on 30 September and we had our final accounts drafted by the next morning and away to the auditors, a record that we have achieved for many years now.  It's a personal challenge for me and my Management Team and this year we had the extra task of merging in all the accounts of the former North Lincolnshire Credit Union, but thanks to the diligence of our Scunthorpe branch colleagues all was accomplished painlessly.  Now we have the auditors in and we are keeping fingers crossed that they will give us a "clean bill of health" so that the directors can make a good report to our members at the AGM on Tuesday 8 December on their stewardship of our members' funds. 

Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer
We have shortlisted candidates for this role and the interviews will be held next week.  So we hope to have someone in post very soon to help develop our business across Northern Lincolnshire.  Watch this space!

Pennies 2 Pounds
We are delighted to announce that another Pennies2Pounds school bank was launched on 7 October, at Aldbrough Primary School on the Holderness coast.

There's an Autumn Term Competition on our website that any of our Junior Savers can enter this month.  Take a look - there's some good prizes to be won.

Bulk Oil Buying Scheme
Now the weather is turning chilly, it's time to switch on the heating.  Many residents in our rural communities are not connected to the gas mains and depend on oil to heat their homes.  Keeping their oil tanks filled can be an expensive business but fortunately there is a Bulk Oil Buying Scheme, run by the Humber & Wolds Rural Community Council (H&WRCC), they can join to help them obtain the very best buying terms. 

Even so, having to fork out all at once for a tank full of oil can be a major challenge for many people.  That's where we can help.  We’re partnering with H&WRCC to offer bulk buyers a way to either save up regularly with us towards oil purchases, or alternatively apply for a loan to spread the cost over an extended period.

Peter Hirschfeld of H&WRCC says, "The YORSwitch Oil Buying Scheme is a form of co-operative, so the more oil users that take part, the better buying terms we can obtain from oil suppliers.  We are pleased to have the Credit Union working with us to offer additional ways to help our members make their oil purchases more affordable."

The scheme has recently been extended to North Lincolnshire, as well as across East Yorkshire.

Don't pay more than you need to for Christmas

We're running a campaign highlighting how a small loan from a Credit Union offers an unbeatable deal when compared with alternatives. Take a look at some comparisons for typical Christmas loans and you'll see what I mean.  We don't see why anyone should pay more than they need to for Christmas, so please help us to spread the word.  Members can now apply for their Credit Union loan online too.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Week commencing 21 Sep 2015

It’s all happening at the Credit Union just now, with our busy season about to start, plus it's "year end" next Wednesday!

Driffield 10th Anniversary
Last Wednesday I was proud to attend the celebrations at our Driffield Branch.  In my speech I named and paid tribute to those community-minded residents who founded the branch back in 2005 (at an event in the Blue Bell Inn) and, joined by others over the years, have run it with flair and dedication ever since.  Special achievements have included:
·        pioneering our primary School Banks, which developed into a model that has successfully spread out across  East Yorkshire';
·        playing a big part in the life of the community, raising funds for a whole host of good causes including National Children's Homes, Age Concern, Citizens Advice, Driffield in Bloom, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Macmillian Nurses, Friends of Guiding, a local skate park, old folks' tea and an overseas flood disaster fund.  
The "birthday party" was well attended and it was good to welcome Paul Rounding of Driffield Town Council (who made the prize draw) and Marc Hall, Financial Inclusion Officer of East Riding of Yorkshire Council (who helped me cut the fabulous decorated cake).
Well done to our Driffield Branch volunteers, and here's to the next ten years!

Lloyds Banking Group
I was invited to join the managers from the region's Lloyds and Halifax banking branches at a couple of training sessions to brief them on our Credit Union.  Lloyds Banking Group recognises that the credit union sector provides a very important service to many people in the UK and are providing a £4 million fund to support its development.  In 2014 we were successful in our application for a Lloyds/Credit Union Foundation grant to assist with our North Lincolnshire merger. 

As part of this ongoing partnership, Lloyds and Halifax have agreed to promote credit union membership to their customers in a leaflet available in their branches which highlights our services, for example loans that are not part of their product range.  They are also interested in sharing business expertise with us by involving bank volunteers in credit unions.  As this initiative develops, it will help UK credit unions to improve and grow significantly over the next four years.

Eastern Raiders Football Club - your team!
The new football season is now well and truly under way. Many of you will be following the fortunes of your favourite high-flyers on "Match of the Day", while fans in these parts will be spurring on the Tigers to regain their place in the Premier League. However, in this piece it's to the East Riding County League that I want to direct your attention.

For HEYCU has just become the proud sponsors of Eastern Raiders FC, an up-and-coming team in Division Two.  The Raiders are based in Goole but play all over East Yorkshire in their quest for league and cup victory. They look splendid in their new purple and white kit featuring our Credit Union name and logo, and it's brought them luck so far, as the first match – away against Hull’s Apollo Rangers – resulted in a decisive 3-0 win, followed by an 8-4 victory over Patrington last Saturday, taking them to the top of the league!   You can follow the weekly fortunes of your sponsored team on our social media pages, so if you are a HEYCU member why not become a supporter and give them a shout?  Go Raiders!

Christmas is coming . . .
It hardly seems five minutes since we were on holiday, relaxing in the garden and enjoying the summer, but now our thoughts are turning to Christmas! 

Many members are already planning ahead and thinking about a Christmas Loan.  If you need to borrow say £400 to spread the cost of your festive spend over the year, you won't find a cheaper deal than your Credit Union.  With repayments of just £9.18 a week, our loans are many times cheaper than a doorstep loan, and more convenient, with payments direct from your bank account or your wages on the day you get your income.  What's more you can now apply on line.   Tell your friends and neighbours. . . why pay more?

Northern Lincolnshire Partnership role
There's just a few days left to apply to be our Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer.   All the details are on our website and if this interesting role appeals to you, please get your application form in without delay.

Members' Survey 2015 responses
I've now replied personally to those members who raised issues in our Members' Survey that I felt needed an individual response.  I promised to share a selection, as you may find them of general interest, so here goes:

Member's comment:
"I actually know nothing about the credit union at all. My Mum is a member and said it was a good way of saving some money for Christmas.  When I went into my local branch I was given an application form and a receipt for the deposit and that was that. I now pay in every week by standing order but I still don't know what the CU is all about. I didn't know it helped the local community, I just thought it was an easier way of saving money without all the red tape banks usually have. Perhaps it's my fault for not being more informed but I also don't feel the CU sold itself to me, and I'd never heard of it before my Mum mentioned it."

Our response:
"Thank you for your comments, from the viewpoint of a new member, which make some very good points.  We do want our members to fully understand what the CU is all about, especially the fact that they are more than just customers - they are member-owners with various rights and responsibilities. I am glad your Mum was able to introduce you to us, but you are right we should tell you what membership means when you join.  If we get it right, you will feel properly informed but not bombarded with too much information all at once, which some people don't like. 

"If you have access to the internet, you can learn a lot from our website and, as you have given us your email address, you will be sent twice yearly E-Newsletters, an invitation to our AGM, and a member survey.  As a result of your comments, we have decided to reintroduce a leaflet called Your Credit Union, which will in future be given to new members as they join."

Wearable banking devices
I've heard of people wearing their hearts on their sleeves but never their bank!  According to a publication that crossed my desk the other day, a major building society is pioneering the use of an Apple Watch or Android wrist device for customers to check their balances and move money between accounts.  The wearable app can even be voice activated, so no need to input a password, you simply speak a command and your balance appears on screen.  Since wearable banking arrived on the scene, the response has been sensational, my source explains. 

I was interested to learn that the society's employees play a big role in shaping these deveopments. Earlier this year staff took part in a mass trial of the contactless payment wristband.  Apparently, they were sorry to lose their band when the test ended!  What a great idea - if your staff are enthusiastic about a new product or service it will rub off on the customers.

It's fascinating how quickly technology is changing everyday life, in ways we'd never have imagined. Truly amazing!  Someone will be inventing a wheel next, I am sure.

Pennies 2 Pounds School wins a Centre of Excellence in Education award
Congratulations to Spring Cottage Primary School who were recently awarded excellence status as a Centre for Financial Education by Young Enterprise. The school successfully launched their school bank last year in response to requests from parents for a safe way to save up for expensive residential trips.

The club was initially offered to Year 5 pupils saving for their special end-of-year outing. Soon other family members wanted to join, alongside school staff who enjoyed the convenience of a savings bank at their workplace.

Two pupils volunteered to help run the bank and were very proud to be given their volunteer badges at the end of their training. This sparked great interest among the other pupils. The teachers capitalised on this enthusiasm by running classes in money management.

Soon the word spread among the local community. We were invited to display information about the Credit Union at the Summer Fair. This proved to be one of the busiest stalls as families and local residents were keen to find out more about a safe and convenient alternative to high street banking. Plans are now underway to recruit more volunteers and to launch a roll out programme of saving to the wider school community.

Brownie Badge for Junior Volunteer
Congratulations to Camille Jenkins, one of our youngest volunteers for successfully working towards her Number Fun badge.  Camille is a keen Brownie when she is not busy running the school bank. She was looking for a project to use her new skills during the school holiday.   A Number Fun Brownie Badge is awarded for:
·        Helping at an event where you have to collect money and give change;
·        Keeping a record of money you are given and spend during one month;
·        Knowing how to open a savings account and finding out about one savings account.

Pennies 2 Pounds offers experience in all these areas. Perhaps you know a young saver who may also enjoy working towards this award?

Junior Savers Autumn Competition
Watch our website for details of the latest competition for our Junior Savers.  We'll be inviting them to find out about the currencies used in other countries. Children over the age of seven will have an additional challenge to draw the flags of the countries named in the competition. Vexillology is the term given to the study of flags, a good word to note if you are taking part in a quiz! 

Could a Community Account help your club or group?
We're getting some great comments from users of our Community AccountSome of our local clubs and groups use it to deposit the grants they receive from funding organisations such as the Council, Big Lottery and Comic Relief.  One says: "As Treasurer of our Residents Association I can rest easy knowing that our funds will be looked after at the Credit Union by people we can trust. Then, when we need to pay our bills, it's so easy, we just send in a signed request and the Credit Union sends a BACS payment without us having to bother with cheques."   Worth finding out more? 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

7 Sept 2015

This week’s Blogger – w/c 7 Sep 2015

Summer holidays
I hope you have had a good summer and managed to enjoy a break.  Now it's back to business and I will aim to bring you up to date, every couple of weeks or so, with the happenings at HEYCU:

Member Survey results
A big thank you to all those members who took the time and trouble to complete our 2015 Member Survey.  I won't repeat the survey findings here, as you can read them on our website (About page) but we were very pleased not only that members scored us highly for most of the general satisfaction categories but also had lots of ideas and suggestions to help us improve our (or should I say your) business and do even better in future.   It shows just how much our loyal members care about their credit union and want it to succeed.  How many bank customers would feel the same about their bank, I wonder?

I can assure you that the Credit Union's directors do read all these comments very thoroughly and take note of what our members say.  We had a full discussion on the survey at our Board meeting on Tuesday, and the directors naturally challenged me (that's their job!) to act on many of the findings.  It was very timely, as the September Board meeting is the one where we approve our new 3-Year Business Plan and the financial budgets for the year ahead. 

Over the coming month I shall be sending a personal reply to those members who sent special individual comments or suggestions in the survey - having gone to that trouble, they deserve a response.  It may not always be possible to adopt every idea, but we try to do what we can.  I will feature some of those ideas, and our response, in future Blogs. 

Job Opportunity - Partnership Development
We are looking for a special person, with a passion for the credit union ethos and great organising and communicating skills, to help us develop our business in Northern Lincolnshire.  This exciting part-time opportunity, over a three year period (which could be extended, depending on its success), has been funded by our partners Winterton 2022 and North Lincolnshire Council.  To find out more, visit our Employment Opportunities page.   If you think this is the right role for you, or you know someone else who would match our needs, we need applications by 28 September.  Please use the application form, no CVs will be accepted.

Driffield Tenth Anniversary
We're all looking forward to helping the volunteers of our Driffield branch celebrate their tenth anniversary of serving the town and surrounding community next Wednesday 16 September from 10 am.  If you are in town that day, do pop in and say "hello".  The event is being held at our Credit Union Office at 2-4 Market Walk (that's the Town Council HQ).  There'll be light refreshments and free-to-enter competitions and everyone attending will get a free ticket for a prize draw.  I shall be attending, together with some of our directors, so hope to see you there!

Goole Presentation Event
It was great to attend an event at The Courtyard in Goole last Friday, in the presence of many worthy community groups and organisations, for the Yorkshire Water Goole Community Fund presentations.  The £20,000 Community Fund was created by Yorkshire Water to thank local people for their patience while the company's pumping station at Carr Lane was upgraded after the terrible floods in the town in 2012.   To allocate the funds an independent panel was formed from local councillors and representatives from the media and local college, chaired by Andrew Percy MP.

We were delighted to receive an award to provide a laptop for our Goole Pennies2Pounds School Banks project.  Jo will use this fantastic resource to help us operate our school and community savings points and develop materials for use in educating young people about good money management.   Thank you, Yorkshire Water!  And thanks to Diane, one of our P2P volunteers, who accompanied me to the very uplifting event, to receive our cheque.

Schools - Welcome back!
Just a quick "hello" and welcome back to all our Pennies 2 Pounds School Banks, at the start of another academic year.  We will have some new schools joining us this term and we hope the existing school banks will have another successful year, with lots more savers (junior and adult) enrolled.

Northern Lincolnshire Local Members’ Group
I attended the August meeting of this group and there was a lively discussion about how best to grow our business across the county.  Using local Credit Union champions to encourage interest in the work of the credit union was one idea. The positive "can do" attitude of the staff and volunteers at Scunthorpe branch was commented on.  If you live in the area and would like to join the Group, it meets at the branch on the second Thursday each month at 7 pm.  You'd be most welcome!

Let's Help You . . . find somewhere to live
A new website https://hull.letshelpyou.co.uk/lets/ has been launched to help tenants find affordable rental property across the Hull City Council area.  It's free, quick and easy to use.  You can use it to find one, two, three, four or more bedroomed houses, flats or shared accommodation in an area you'd most like to live.

The website has a useful calculator giving you accurate information about housing allowance rates and you can search in specific areas or throughout the whole of Hull in one go.  You can save property search criteria, such as number of bedrooms, house or flat, postcode, to your profile and store favourite properties, and even opt to get weekly emails showing properties coming up to match your search settings.  That way you can be one of the first to view a tenancy.

Once you find a property, contact the landlord and arrange to view. The service is available to anyone searching for rented accommodation whether receiving housing benefit or not, and there are alternative ways to use it if you don't have internet access, including a free Android app and free iOS app.

Heritage Open Days 2015
Do you like looking round historic buildings, taking part in guided tours or listening to expert talks on local history?   If, like me, you enjoy learning about our fascinating heritage and you are in Hull this weekend (11-13 September), you are in for a treat!

It's that time of year when lots of Hull's interesting buildings throw open their doors and let the public in for free to have a look around and explore our great city's history.  There's about 70 places to visit, ranging from the ever popular Holy Trinity Church to the BBC Building, HM Prison, Annison's Stables in Witham and the factory of Ideal Boilers.  There's some quirky ones to discover too, such as a 1932 Eco-House in Inglemire Avenue and something called the KC Lighthouse, which I've never heard of!  Together with a range of guided history tours such as along Beverley Road and down by the River Hull, there's far too much choice for my liking altogether, so it'll be fun deciding what to miss out. 

We have Hull Civic Society to thank for arranging this family event as always (together with the building owners of course) and more details can be found at www.hullcivicsociety.org.

Other Services page
Have a look at this new page on our website - it gives information about some of the things we offer that you might not know about - including Say Shopping Vouchers and exclusive deals on electrical goods.

Could a Community Account help your club or group?

We have a very handy deposit account for clubs, groups, societies and organisations of all kinds.  Our Community Account offers a "no fuss" way for your group to look after its funds and make payments as they are needed.  And of course you know that those funds are being used for the benefit of your own community.