Friday, 27 March 2015

An out and about week! (w/e 27 March 2015)

An out and about week!
The work of a Chief Executive is by no means all done behind a desk these days, nor is it "wall to wall" meetings (though it can seem like it sometimes!).  To carry out the role successfully you have to get out and about, meeting colleagues and members of the community and finding out what makes our organisation, and the large region we serve, tick.

It's certainly been one of those weeks for me, but I must say I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Hessle opportunities
On Monday I was in Hessle, with Carmel (our School Project Officer for Haltemprice), meeting Councillor Paul Hogan, a local elected member, to look at opportunities for opening school banks and making our credit union more accessible to this quite large suburban community (the town where I grew up in fact).   Councillor Hogan was also interested in whether HEYCU could provide banking services for the local businesses.  When our new IT/Banking platform is in place this may be possible, including business loans.

Afterwards we popped into the Council's combined library and customer service centre (the Hessle Centre) and were pleased to find the staff well briefed about the Credit Union and keen to help local residents pay into their Credit Union accounts using the cash deposit facility.

Goole
On Tuesday morning it was over to Goole but unfortunately the railway line was blocked just south of the town so it was necessary to take a two and a half hour detour via Doncaster.    A good job I had lots of paperwork to catch up with while sitting on the train!  Apologies to any members who went along to our branch that morning only to find it shut.  Only the previous week there were problems with the river bridge, and it's amazing how incidents like that can cause a major snarl up in a town.

Holderness happenings
By contrast Wednesday morning found me heading east on a bus to Withernsea.  It was a lovely journey across rural Holderness, bathed in spring sunshine.  After greeting our volunteers, Mareth and Malcolm at the Credit Union Contact Point, Julie (our School Project Officer for Holderness) and I took part in a photo-call arranged by East Riding of Yorkshire Council with Councillor Jackie Cracknell, the Portfolio Holder for Community Involvement, to celebrate the extension of our Pennies2Pounds school banks.  Jayne Nendick, the ever-so-busy CEO of The Shores, who has "opened a few doors for us", was also able to join in.  We really appreciate the County helping to fund P2P, and I am sure that future generations who get the chance to save up from early childhood to gain financial resilience, will be glad too – one day!
                                
One of our members came up to me and said how much he liked his Credit Union account, and couldn't praise the service enough.  In these times when the big banks seem to make it difficult for their customers to contact them, with automated overseas call centres and reduced branch networks, he said it was so nice to pick up the phone and speak to a "human voice" who genuinely wanted to help.  That's part of the credit union difference, you see, our members are what we are all about. It was kind of him to tell me and I know our staff really appreciate the feedback.

Welcome to our new Bishop
This week it was announced that Rev Canon Alison White has been appointed the new Bishop of HullAlthough Bishop Alison is only the second woman to be made a Church of England Bishop  she won’t want to be judged on that, but on her contribution to the life of our City and County.   We congratulate her and look forward to meeting her.

We got to know the previous Bishop, Richard Frith, quite well for he made a point of joining our Credit Union on International Credit Union Day 2013, just after being delegated to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings (see the wenbsite ToyourCredit for more details).  So, a warm welcome to Bishop Alison, and the membership form is in the post!

Jam Jar Account planning
Thursday afternoon I was back at base chairing a planning meeting for the Jam Jar Account that we are launching in partnership with Hull City Council.  This product will be welcomed by people who’d like some help to budget, especially with Universal Credit on the way.

Easter Competition
Our junior savers will be wondering who’s going to win the magnificant Chocolate Easter Egg that is rather tantalisingly on display just outside my office.   All will be revealed next week (if it’s still there, that is!).

Christmas Saver
At the end of March our 2015 Christmas Saver Campaign comes to an end – so get a move on if you haven’t opened an account yet to claim your £10 bonus!

Hull Business Improvement District Awards 2015
Only a few days left to nominate city centre businesses for this year’s Hull BID awards – I am thrilled to find that we’ve had some nominations!   Thank you, kind members.

Our Dream Loan makes dreams come true!
Anyone need a loan for a spring garden ‘make over’?   Now is the time to apply.   Have a look at our Dream Loan - it's like a bank loan but at a lower interest rate.  

Friday, 20 March 2015

Another busy week at HEYCU! (ending 20 March)

Our week to 20 March

East Riding of Yorkshire Financial Inclusion Forum
On Tuesday John (CEO) and Carmel attended this event at County Hall.  The theme was Young People, the issues related to money that they face and the projects/support available to them. Our presentation on the roll out of our Pennies 2 Pounds school banks was very well received.  Other presentations were from the Money Advice Service, Hull & East Riding CAB, The Warren Young People’s project and Humber & Wolds Rural Community Council.

HEYCU Board of Directors
We had another positive Board meeting on Tuesday evening with updates on the North Lincolnshire Credit Union merger, Credit Union Transformation Programme and a proposal to trial a start-up business lending scheme.   More details available soon.

Hull People’s Premium
John and Juliana (Quids In Project Officer) were in Hull Guildhall for the launch of Hull People's Premium on Wednesday.  Councillor John Hewitt spoke at the launch, saying the People’s Premium is like a “Hull residents club” of people who are interested in learning more about ways to make the most of their money.   It’s a completely free service and to join all you need to do is text HPP to 60999.  You will then receive free texts from time to time making you aware of special offers such as our Credit Union’s Christmas Saver £10 matched bonus campaign, details of energy switching deals and other ways for Hull residents to make their money go further.

The Chancellor’s Budget
Budgets generally contain a mixture of good and bad news, depending on your personal circumstances and no doubt your political views.  But one piece of good news in this year’s budget was for savers.  From April 2016, basic rate taxpayers will not pay any tax on the first £1,000 of income they receive from their savings. Higher rate taxpayers won’t not pay tax on the first £500.
This means many credit union members will not have to pay tax on the dividend they receive from us. Banks and building societies will no longer deduct tax at source when they pay interest to their savers. 
HEYCU Chief Executive John Smith welcomes this, saying: “This is good news for our credit union and its 12,000 savers, as the dividends our members receive on their credit union savings will, in most cases, be tax free. This provides everyone with a further incentive to save regularly for planned and unplanned expenses.
“It is also very welcome to see the playing field levelled between banks, building societies and credit unions, as the other providers will no longer be offering a service – tax deduction at source – that credit unions cannot. Our trade association, ABCUL, has long called for the removal of this barrier for Britain’s credit unions, and this equal treatment will help them compete in the savings market, where they already manage over £1 billion in members’ shares.”

Voluntary & Community Sector Meeting
On Thursday John attended a meeting of the City Plan’s Voluntary & Community Sector group and heard an interesting presentation on the way the new City of Culture team plan to involve a wide range of groups and organisations in the City of Culture 2017 programme.  It all sounds very exciting and I am sure what is being planned will leave a lasting legacy of benefit for our great city.

A visit to our communications agency, Fox, to plan three exciting member recruitment campaigns to be launched in the spring, rounded off another hectic but fruitful week at the Credit Union.

Our Dream Loan makes dreams come true!
Anyone need extra funds to get started on those home or garden improvements?   Now is the time to apply.   Have a look at our Dream Loan - it's like a bank loan but at a lower interest rate.  

Friday, 13 March 2015

Week ending Friday 13th!

Old Goole
John (CEO) visited the Moorlands Centre in Old Goole on Wednesday, where we have our new credit union contact point.   It’s a buzzing place, with a cafĂ©, second hand store and IT training suite, as well as the Credit Union now every Wednesday morning.   A centre user kindly drew our Prize Draw for a super hamper of goodies, with every CU saver who had joined there getting a free ticket.  Congrats to our winner - Mr John Prescott!   

Pennies 2 Pounds progress
After the successful launch last week at Cottingham Children’s Centre, we’ve had a brilliant first day at Roos Primary School, in Holderness.   Julie, our Project Officer, presented at a school assembly earlier in the week, and was bowled over by the enthusiasm, as we had 36 children open accounts and 6 staff!  The Holderness Gazette came along to take pictures, so if you live in the area, keep an eye open for those.  

Driffield Latest
Well done to our Driffield Branch members who held their annual quiz evening recently to raise money for the community.   This year they raised a record £337 with the proceeds shared between Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Macmillan Nurses.  A great effort! 

Greatfield Big Local
We are proud to be working with the residents of Greatfield Estate in Hull to bring credit union services to the notice of the community, as part of the Big Local Project.  On Wednesday John and Beth attended the Steering Group and it was fantastic to see the whole project coming to life, with lots of great ideas and projects taking shape.  The vintage bus idea is brilliant!  We are keen to work with the schools there to establish Pennies2Pounds school banks, which are proving so popular elsewhere in our area. We’ll keep you updated. 

Easter Competition for Junior Savers
We are running an Easter Competition for all our First Savers and Pennies 2 Pounds School Savers.  We want the youngsters to design a smart card.  The closing date is now 27 March and there’s some chocolatey treats for the winning entry!   Have a look at our website for details. 

ABCUL Annual Conference
Last Saturday we were represented at the ABCUL Conference in Manchester, finding out about the latest developments in the world of credit unions.   It is the annual gathering of members of our trade association – the Association of British Credit Unions and is attended by over 300 of the most active volunteers.  We were able to tell them about North Lincolnshire Credit Union members’ decision to merge with us, and to celebrate receiving a grant via the Credit Union Foundation to support the merger. 

Our Dream Loan makes dreams come true!
Anyone need a loan for a special holiday or a wedding?   Now is the time to apply.   Have a look at our Dream Loan - it's like a bank loan but at a lower interest rate.  

Friday, 6 March 2015

The first week of March!

NLCU merger
We are thrilled to learn that the members of North Lincolnshire Credit Union (NLCU) have held two special general meetings and voted to merge their credit union with ours!    We are looking forward to working with their staff and volunteers to build on their good work and help to bring affordable not-for-profit credit union services to many more people across Northern Lincolnshire.  

Running a small credit union isn't easy these days and the NLCU members deserve congratulations for all they have achieved over the years, and for having the foresight to recognise that a merger from strength with a reputable larger credit union offers the best way to achieve long term success for their members and ours.

We've set up a web page to keep NLCU members and the people of Northern Lincolnshire informed about our "merger story" as it unfolds.   Once the regulators have registered the transfer we'll be able to set a date for introducing the HEYCU range of services to the wider region. But rest assured the branch in Scunthorpe High Street will continue to offer a friendly welcome and caring service to all who call in to do business there.  It will trade as Northern Lincolnshire Credit Union (part of Hull & East Yorkshire Credit Union Limited). 

So, if you happen to be a member of NLCU, welcome to the family!

Pennies 2 Pounds progress
Our school banks team - Rita, Jo, Julie, Carmel and Beth - have been exceptionally busy recently, finding new places to open our very popular Pennies2Pounds school banks.   During February new school banks were launched at Hutton Cranswick (Driffield) Primary School and St Nicholas (Beverley) Primary School.   We also opened a community contact point at The Moorlands Centre, Old Goole which operates every Wednesday morning.  On 5 March we opened at the Sure Start Children's Centre in Cottingham (every Thursday).   Then, next week, we are starting up at Roos Primary School in Holderness!    

Day one at the new school banks has generally been very hectic, with lots of eager children and their parents too pressing forward with their joining forms to claim their free money box, saver card and sticker!    It's a great time for the adults in the family to start saving up for Christmas - as until the end of March we are matching the first deposit (up to £10). 

Lots of other places are now asking if they can have a school bank, but we will have to prove the success of these first and not try to do too much all at once.  Who knows, one day we may achieve our aim of introducing all families in our area to good money management through an early engagement with a school bank.

Happy Birthday!
Just a quick note to say Happy 10th Birthday to The Shores Centre at Withernsea!  The Shores is home to our Withernsea branch which opens every Wednesday morning, and it always seems to be teeming with activity whenever you enter. It's one of those places that would really be missed if it wasn't there.  The Diner's pretty good for food and drink too!   We salute your success over the past decade, Jayne and team, and here's to the next ten years!

While were on the subject of anniversaries, congratulations to our Wetwang branch, which has just had its first birthday.   Over the past year Pat and her volunteers have done wonders getting the local community saving.  Well done!  Tuesday mornings in the Community Hall is the time and place to be to join up.

Hull BID Awards
As a business with a big presence in Hull City Centre (Brook Street to be precise), we are part of Hull Business Improvement District (Hull BID for short).   They are holding their second round of Business Awards very soon, with eight different categories, including such things as Outstanding Employee or Team Award; Service with a Smile Award.

Members of the public can nominate businesses in the city centre for an award.  It's really easy to do, by visiting www.hulldailymail.co.uk/bidawards for a nomination form.  Our member feedback slips suggest that many members are delighted with the service they get from our staff team when they visit Brook Street.   Perhaps someone might consider us worthy of a nomination?  Now, that would be nice . . .

Fairtrade Fortnight
We've been celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 by raising awareness of the great work of the Fairtrade Foundation, who promote fairly traded foods, clothing and crafts to help ensure a better life for producers and farmers in less developed countries of the world.   The Fairtrade premium - an extra sum that farmers and workers receive - is invested in community projects like ambulances, local schools, clean water supply and business improvements.

When you buy Fairtrade products you are helping to transform people's lives through fair prices, better wages and the Fairtrade premium.  As a credit union we support Fairtrade because fairness is what we are all about - the fairer alternative is our strapline.  It's the right thing to do.   At our AGM our Fairtrade products stall always proves popular, which shows that what our members believe too. 

Our Dream Loan makes dreams come true!

Anyone need a loan for a special holiday or a wedding?   Now is the time to apply.   Have a look at our Dream Loan - it's like a bank loan but at a lower interest rate.